How to Arrange a Visit
Start with your elected official's (state or federal) local district office. The best way to offer an invitation to visit your pharmacy is after a personal meeting with the elected official in his or her district office. Or, an invitation offered through the elected official's staff is another option. Contact the elected official's scheduler and inquire about availability and receptiveness to a visit.
When to Schedule
When the elected official is back home on a weekend, or when Congress or state General Assembly is in recess. Offer several potential dates and times, possibly using a community event as your hook.
What to Prepare
Nothing elaborate or staged. Prepare your staff and managers with background information about the elected official. A simple interaction with the daily workings of your pharmacy will be informative enough for the elected official without any additional bells and whistles. Consider preparing a simple fact sheet "profile" of your pharmacy operations, e.g., number of patients per month, number of Medicare prescriptions filled last year, number of employees and years you have served the community. You may want to have a photographer there to document the event in an unobtrusive way and notify local newspapers, radio and TV stations.
Make Time for a "Quiet" Personal Talk
Set aside some time for a one on one talk with your elected official about one or two issues facing pharmacy. This helps build your personal relationship and establishes you as a professional health care information resource.
What to Expect
Be prepared for questions from the elected official and his or her staff. This is where your prepared fact sheet on your pharmacy's operations, patients, etc. comes in handy. Know your facts from studying PPA issue briefs, so you can comfortably address questions.
How to Conduct the Visit
Naturally. Just as with any other visitor, do not lobby them too much with legislative issues during the tour. The important thing is for them to see how your pharmacy plays a vital role in community health care. Talk about your patients and patient care concerns. You will have achieved your purpose if they gain a favorable impression and view you as a resource.
The above information is an excerpt from the National Community Pharmacists Association's (NCPA) Guide to Pharmacy Tours for Elected Officials. To read the full guide and for more information, please click here.
"Elected officials are continuously considering and passing legislation that impacts pharmacy either directly or indirectly. A pharmacy tour gives an elected official the opportunity to see you working in their district, see the unique services you provide as opposed to mail order, hear from you directly about what your concerns are regarding the future of pharmacy and show how your pharmacy fills a special need in the community." - Joe Bettinger, Hieber's Pharmacy
"As I was discussing pharmacy issues with my Congressman in his district office it was clear to me that a hands on tour of my pharmacy world really help to solidify my points. I invited him for a tour the next time he was back home, and after a few emails, he showed up! The tour was short and sweet but he left that day with a better understanding of pharmacy issues and the services I provide." - Eric Esterbrook, Esterbrook Pharmacy
Contact Don Smith with any questions or for assistance on scheduling a tour!