First-of-its-kind conference in Lexington Oct. 2-4 will look at the role of pharmacists in public health

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

The Advances in Pharmacy Practice 2015 Fall Conference, “Discussing the Role of the Pharmacist in Public Health,” will be held Oct. 2-4 in Lexington and is open to pharmacists and public-health professionals.

The conference will offer a broad overview of public health issues and the role of the pharmacist in addressing them.

“To my knowledge, there has not been a conference like this before,” Patricia Freeman, director of the Center for the Advancement of Pharmacy Practice at the University of Kentucky, told Kentucky Health News.

Freeman said that there is a real push right now by national organizations to recognize the role pharmacists play as active partners in public health.

“In Kentucky we lead the nation in many public-health issues,” Freeman said. “Pharmacist, I think, have a responsibility to understand how they can contribute as part of the public health team to address these issues that have negatively impacted the citizens of Kentucky.”

One of the speakers at the conference, Cmdr. Lori Hall of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will talk about the overlap between CDC health priorities and pharmacy practice.

Freeman noted that the CDC has laid out a federal plan on how pharmacists should be utilized to improve the nations public health and said, ” If they are saying that at the federal level, then we should be saying that same thing and exploring those opportunities at the state level.”

Kentucky pharmacists play an active role in several public health initiatives: they provide immunizations, help the state with emergency preparedness through the mobile pharmacy, and can now, because of Senate Bill 192, dispense Naloxone for patients who are at risk for opioid overdose. Both topics will be addressed at the conference.

“The pharmacist is such an underutilized health care professional,” Freeman, who is also president-elect of the Kentucky Pharmacists Association, said. “They are so accessible in all of these different communities, we’ve really started . . . some additional public health activities that the pharmacists could be fulfilling in a more active role.”

The conference will be held at the Griffin Gate Marriott Resort in Lexington. Registration fees vary depending on the sessions chosen. Go to and click on “live events” for details.

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