Anne L. Burns '80 receives COP Lifetime Achievement Award

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October 27, 2022

Photo of Anne Burns with Dean Mann
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Anne L. Burns, RPh, BSPharm ’80, received The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2022 Alumni Awards Ceremony on Oct. 21.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was established to celebrate alumni from the College of Pharmacy who have accomplished outstanding lifelong achievements in pharmacy, pharmaceutical sciences or public service. This award is not given in any regular, repeating time period, but only when truly outstanding candidates are identified. Burns’ stellar contributions to the pharmacy profession earned her the award this year.

"Anne is a beloved, influential teacher and leader and is an outstanding alumna of the College of Pharmacy," said Marialice Bennett, professor emerita at the college. "She is highly respected and admired in the pharmacy world and beyond. I have never met a person who did not speak highly of her expertise, her magnificent style and her influential passion. Along with being successful, many times behind the scenes, she is one of the most delightful individuals I have ever worked with. I, with many others, greatly admire her and am proud to call her a colleague and friend."

Burns currently serves as vice president of professional affairs for the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), where she provides leadership for the association’s practice strategic initiatives. More specifically, Burns is focused on:

  • advancing pharmacists’ patient care service delivery
  • payment for pharmacists’ services
  • collaboration with other health care practitioners
  • health information technology
  • health care quality

Inspired by her mother, who was a nurse, Burns always knew she wanted to go into health care but wasn’t sure which profession suited her best. She investigated different opportunities and decided that pharmacy was the best for her. She loved science and was passionate about helping others. Eventually, she chose pharmacy because it combined a rigorous scientific background with the ability to help people. She also appreciated being challenged by her professors and peers.

“The College of Pharmacy is such a prestigious institution,” Burns said. “I appreciated the opportunity to learn from so many nationally recognized professors and complete practice experiences under such skilled, innovative pharmacists. I cherish the relationships with my classmates and have been so impressed by their many significant contributions to pharmacy practice across the spectrum.”

After receiving her BSPharm from Ohio State in 1980, Burns worked at an independent community pharmacy for four years, where she provided patient counseling and compounding services – considered progressive practice in the profession at the time.

In 1984 she joined the Ohio State College of Pharmacy as a clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice and manager of the professional practice laboratory. She worked diligently to ensure that student pharmacists were equipped to deal with the changing nature of the pharmacy profession and to serve as leaders in their own practices. After 13 years, Burns left the college for APhA to lead initiatives to further pharmacy practice.

In her time at APhA, Burns has contributed significantly to the development of community pharmacy residency programs, including fostering a collaborative partnership with the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) to accredit these innovative training programs. Community pharmacy residency programs have grown significantly over the past 25 years and produced many change agents and leaders in community practice and the profession – something Burns is especially proud of.

“Seeing all of the leaders that come out of these programs across the country has been so inspiring,” Burns said. “I love knowing that I had a small part in advancing their careers and the profession.”

In addition to residency programs, Burns has led many multiorganizational pharmacy initiatives, including the development of the profession’s 2014 Pharmacist Patient Care Process, now a standard requirement in PharmD and residency training programs, and the profession’s consensus definition for medication management services. She also had a leadership role in the creation of the medication therapy management core elements service model and various other resources focused on transforming pharmacy practice and building sustainable payment models for pharmacists' services. 

Throughout her career she has served on many boards, coalitions and workgroups, including the:

  • Board of Directors for the Pharmacy Quality Alliance and the Council on Credentialing in Pharmacy
  • National Advisory Board for the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit
  • National Academies of Medicine Action Collaborative on Combatting the U.S. Opioid Epidemic
  • CDC Opioid Guidelines Workgroup
  • Pharmacy HIT Collaborative Workgroup on Professional Service Claims and Codes
  • College of Pharmacy Dean’s Corporate Council

Working with these groups has provided the opportunity to advocate for the value that pharmacists bring to patients, health care teams and payers – a crucial element needed to advance the pharmacy profession.

“My message to students is to engage in lifelong advocacy for the role of the pharmacist, whether in the local community or through state and federal efforts,” Burns said. “Establish a network of professional colleagues who can provide a source of inspiration and support, and take advantage of the many opportunities to use your expertise in the constantly changing health care system.”

Globally, Burns feels the pharmacy profession will continue to be recognized across the health care system for pharmacists’ medication expertise while new opportunities will expand the role of a pharmacist.

“As pharmacists become more specialized and work in new patient care roles, there will be significant opportunities for pharmacists going forward which will be balanced by the changing dynamics that technology brings to some traditional pharmacists’ roles,” Burns said. “There are so many unmet health care needs for patients, and pharmacists have demonstrated that their accessibility and expertise provide a solution that needs to be leveraged across the health care system."