Descriptions of pharmacists’ adverse working conditions abound among professional publications. Equally common are articles describing the profession’s state of perpetual decline. Such articles usually assign responsibility to employers, academia, and various branches of government.
While these parties play a significant role, I believe that pharmacists themselves bear ultimate responsibility. The profession is many times bigger than all other responsible parties combined; therefore pharmacists should be most accountable for allowing the current state of affairs to develop. Positive change for the profession will happen only when pharmacists take action.
If enough pharmacists followed through, significant changes could occur in two areas: the unification of the profession and better pharmacy practice.
What kind of pharmacy do you practice?
Oh, yes. I said it. Many pharmacists need to do a better job.
How can we do a better job? We can start by examining our daily actions and asking ourselves, am I really being the best pharmacist I can be? Passively filling as many prescriptions as possible, focusing on enigmatic metrics, and being a businessperson in a white coat while knowingly allowing our clinical skills to decline — an entirely too common scenario — does not qualify us as good pharmacists and scarcely justifies years of extensive education and training.
The only thing keeping pharmacists in that picture is a set of antique laws, which can easily change — especially if we continue to fail to prove our value to the people we serve.
Start by speaking out
With regard to professional unity, the reality is simple: There is strength in numbers. So how do we get pharmacists to come together?
Paying dues to APhA and other professional organizations so that they can keep talking while we sit and wait for them to take real action is not a solution.
Pharmacists hiding behind the counter need to come forward, stand together, and refuse to accept the current status quo.
Perhaps a good first step would be for pharmacists to conquer the fears that employers instill in them and speak out. Get your name and voice out there. You just might influence others to do the same.