American College of Clinical Pharmacy
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ACCP Report - January 2019

President’s Column

A Year of Celebration!

Written by Suzanne Amato Nesbit, Pharm.D., FCCP, BCPS, CPE


This year marks the 40th anniversary of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy. Forty years! Some might say we are now entering “middle age.” Milestones such as these provide an opportunity to reflect on where we have been as an organization and what directions we will chart for the future. For an organization, reflecting on the environment at the time of its inception, and its founding principles, is a worthwhile endeavor.

  • Are our core values still guiding the organization?
  • Are they relevant for the profession today and as we look forward to the next 40 years?
  • What should our goals be in the next 40 years?

What was the health care and pharmacy practice landscape like in 1979? Donald Brodie’s 1961 article in the American Journal of Hospital Pharmacy (AJHP) suggested that hospital pharmacists should provide consultative services in therapeutics and pharmacology. Brodie used the term drug use control in hopes of defining the pharmacist’s responsibility in ensuring optimal medication distribution and safety. William Zellmer, as editor of AJHP, endorsed the concept that “the pharmacist holds ultimate responsibility for drug use control.” A decade later, in 1971, the National Center for Health Services Research and Development convened a task force to draft criteria for the clinical role of pharmacists in any health care setting. By 1977, there were 10 schools of pharmacy with fully accredited Pharm.D. programs.

With these elements in place, ACCP was founded in September 1979 at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. There were 29 founding members, and Kim Kelly was elected as the first president. The other inaugural officers of the College were William Evans, Donald McLeod, and John Rodman. At its inception, ACCP defined clinical pharmacy as “a health science discipline that embodies the application, by pharmacists, of the scientific principles of pharmacology, toxicology, pharmacokinetics, and therapeutics to the care of the patients.” Although organizations such as the American Pharmaceutical Association (APhA) and the American Society of Hospital Pharmacists (ASHP) may have embraced clinical pharmacy, they were focused on the larger landscape of pharmacy practice.

ACCP’s founding members were intent on forming an organization that would be the voice and home of clinical pharmacy. The newly formed College would work to advance high-quality professional education and practice. ACCP also became the leading voice promoting “clinical” residencies. Early on, most clinical pharmacists were practicing in teaching hospitals, and many were full-time pharmacy (or medical) faculty. ACCP embraced clinical practice, education, and research as its pillars. Early successes of the College and its members included petitioning the Board of Pharmaceutical Specialties (BPS; now the Board of Pharmacy Specialties) to recognize clinical pharmacy as a specialty. After some debate regarding its name, that specialty was approved and called pharmacotherapy (the specialty of today’s BCPS designation). The College also spurred the FDA to affirm that those who held the Pharm.D. degree could be eligible to serve as principal investigators in clinical research studies. Pharmacotherapy, founded by Russell R. Miller (see the story, “Pharmacotherapy: 38 Years in Print,” elsewhere in this issue), later became ACCP’s official journal. Then, only 2 years after the College was founded, in 1981, the ACCP Research Institute was established to support clinical pharmacy research. Quite an auspicious beginning!

To commemorate its 30th anniversary in 2009, ACCP published Clinical Pharmacy in the United States: Transformation of a Profession. The profession of pharmacy was transforming from a “product-focused profession to one that is patient focused.” In the introduction, authors Robert Elenbaas (ACCP’s first executive director) and Dennis Worthen challenged the profession to truly realize the 2004 JCPP Vision of Pharmacy Practice in 2015 developed by the Joint Commission of Pharmacy Practitioners, which stated that pharmacists will be the health care professionals responsible for providing patient care that ensures optimal medication therapy outcomes in the next 10–20 years (emphasis added). Moreover, the JCPP vision called for ALL pharmacists, regardless of practice setting, to be responsible for ensuring optimal patient outcomes.

In 2019, we continue our quest to ensure that all pharmacists across the care continuum assume responsibility for medication optimization (as evidenced by ACCP’s current strategic plan and this year’s committee charges). And if we examine the College’s core values today, we see that the foundational principles espoused by those 29 founding members in 1979 still hold true. The core values that characterize ACCP are:

  • Passion for extending the frontiers of clinical pharmacy
  • Dedication to excellence in patient care, research, and education
  • Commitment to challenge the status quo, state our beliefs, and act on them
  • Integrity, honesty, reliability, and accountability
  • Courage to lead while remaining responsive to our members

We are privileged to have our founding president, Kim Kelly, also a member of this year’s ACCP Presidential Task Force, help address the charge of casting a vision for ACCP’s next 40 years. Look for numerous activities over the coming months to commemorate ACCP’s 40th anniversary, culminating with the Annual Meeting in New York City, October 26–29. Let the celebration begin!