We are MUSC Pharmacy: Mark Sweatman

Roby Hill
October 08, 2020
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Mark Sweatman knows how to get things done at the State House. He and his team are the ones advocating for MUSC with the governor, the South Carolina General Assembly, and key committees and subcommittees who set the state budget.

When the South Carolina legislature passed the 2019-2020 budget, there was a line item in it supporting the funding of a new pharmacy facility. It wouldn’t have happened without Sweatman and his team.

“We had a series of meetings with leaders throughout the enterprise to come up with a vetted list of priorities for the University and the College of Pharmacy was one of the top ones,” said Sweatman, director of governmental affairs and secretary to the MUSC Board of Trustees. “Then we met with staff and legislators to explain our priorities and why they’re important. These folks get a lot of information, so the important thing is to be short and succinct.”

And persuasive. The budgeting process is lengthy, stretching about six months from the governor’s initial recommended budget through various iterations via the Ways and Means Committees of the Senate and the House of Representative. Every step of the way, the importance of a particular item must be confirmed as essential. Effective advocacy is critical during this shepherding process.

“They have to know that when they have a question, we’ll give them factual information,” Sweatman said. “The president can’t come up to Columbia three or four times a week, so our job is to be as informed as possible.”

MUSC’s advocates have a list of leaders at the University they call for clarification, which can range from finance to student affairs to faculty research to health care.
They also help give MUSC students experience with the legislative process. On a regular basis they work with visiting groups of students, interns, students on rotations, Presidential Scholars, and at least once a year, a wave of white-coated student pharmacists.

The South Carolina Pharmacy Association created Pharmacy Day at the State House so pharmacy leaders and students could talk with legislators about issues in the profession, its practitioners, or its patients. This kind of education is vital to good policy.

“It’s hard for medical professionals like pharmacists to serve in the General Assembly because of their jobs,” Sweatman said. “With all the communications they have to make with their constituents out of session, serving in the General Assembly is almost a full-time job. We try to be a voice for those who can’t be up here, by studying up on the issues they tell us are important.”

Sweatman, who started his own career as a page in the state senate before stints in the U.S. Senate, South Carolina Governor’s Office, and the S.C Chamber of Commerce, has been at MUSC for 14 years. His advice to a pharmacy student? Get involved.

“Find some way to be active in public policy because when you look at the South Carolina code of laws, they control your pharmacy pocketbooks,” he said. “You’ve got to look at some way to serve, even if it is just writing your local legislator and telling them what is important in your industry. Be active, however you can.”

About the Author

Roby Hill

Keywords: College News, Pharmacy Month, Alumni News