John Gans: On his life at APhA

July 14, 2008

John Gans tallks candidly about his role at APhA, his departure from APhA and other timely matters affecting the future of pharmacy.

What are your greatest accomplishments?

The greatest accomplishment-and the reason I took the job-was to begin to get the profession to focus on a different societal mission. The first thing I did was begin to talk to people about a different thing that pharmacists would do as a societal role. Making drugs was still an important component, but it wasn't what the public was going to be needing in the future and that was for the profession to become that force in society to help society get the best possible outcomes from its drug therapy. Getting our House of Delegates to approve that new mission is what springboarded everything we did after that for close to 20 years.

Do you see more unity among different pharmacy organizations going forward?

There's clearly unity around this mission. Does that mean all these organizations will become one? Probably not, because there are differences, but if you are able to work collaboratively and agree that this is the vision for pharmacy in 2015-that pharmacists will be healthcare providers responsible for providing patient care that ensures optimal medication outcomes-then the number of associations is not nearly as important as what binds us together.

Do you have any regrets about things you have not managed to achieve during your tenure?

You can always look back-you make mistakes, some things don't work out, but they were all keeping with that overall vision we created in 1991 that pharmacists were going to be that force in society for maximizing therapeutic outcomes for medication.

There are some who feel that APhA has not fought for better working conditions for pharmacists for fear of alienating the chains. What's your response to that charge?

Working conditions have improved, but at the same time the stress level has gone up because you are going through and handling more orders today. Do I think we could have done better in that area? Not necessarily, based on the tools we have. We have 300,000 certified techs. Are we using them properly? That's up to the individual pharmacist.

Do you think APhA has been assertive enough in defending the interests of pharmacists?

We have championed and dealt with many issues today. Could you do more? Yes, you could always say you could have done more, but I don't know an issue that we didn't address.