10 reasons I’m still proud to be a pharmacist

July 10, 2014

Written by a pharmacist who has endured through thick and through thin, these 10 tips remind pharmacy professionals that they have plenty to take pride in.

I’m rapidly approaching my 10th year as a licensed pharmacist, and while it certainly hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows, I still find deep-seated satisfaction in my chosen profession. I hold my head up high when I proudly tell people I’m a pharmacist. Here are ten reasons why you should too:

1.  Trust us. Sure, we’ve had our scandals, but a 2013 Gallup poll ranked pharmacy second only to nurses as the most honest and ethical profession. Patients know that we put them first and that we can be trusted as medication experts.

2.  Egalitarianism in practice. A recent study found that the disparity in pay between pharmacists at opposite ends of the earnings spectrum is the smallest seen in any healthcare profession. In addition, the pay ratio between female pharmacists and male pharmacists is currently around 0.92, which represents the lowest gender-based wage gap to be found in any healthcare profession. (Sure, I’d like this ratio to be 1:1, but I will celebrate the fact that pharmacy is well ahead of the national average).

3.  We are family. We all know it’s tough out there, so we adhere to an unspoken code and take care of our own.

4.  We don’t eat our young. We nurture and encourage our pharmacy students and residents as if they were our own children, challenging them to develop to their fullest potential in order to ensure the success of pharmacy’s next generation.

5.  We go the extra mile. We stay open late for a patient caught in traffic, we deliver a maintenance medication to an elderly shut-in, and we work out payment plans for impoverished patients. We do what it takes to give our patients the very best care we are able to provide.

6.     Versatility. A pharmacy degree is essentially the Swiss Army Knife of professional healthcare degrees. These days, there isn’t much you can’t do with a degree in pharmacy. 

7.     We’re fighters. A week does not go by that I don’t get a letter from a pharmacy organization asking me to write a letter to my congressperson about a pharmacy-related bill. And how hard have we worked toward getting provider status? We are constantly striving to advance our profession and we will continue to do so.

8.     Aftermarket upgrades. Even after we graduate, we have countless opportunities to enhance our education by earning additional certifications and credentials. As pharmacists, we have unlimited resources with which to expand our knowledge and cultivate our skill sets in order to better serve our patients.

9.     Extreme multitasking. There is not a pharmacist among us who can’t talk on the phone, type on the computer, and eat a slice of cold pizza, all while having a conversation with a technician. We can tame printers, wrangle fax machines, decipher the illegible, and visually count to 30 with the blink of an eye. We do this because we have to - and because a varied skill set is what being a good pharmacist requires.

10.   Built pharmacist tough. We regularly triumph over a depth and breadth of job hazards unmatched in any other medical profession. Every pharmacist will face the challenges of long work hours, understaffing, work environments fraught with poor ergonomics and a variety of stress-induced medical conditions. On top of this, depending on where we practice, we may also encounter threats of robbery, radioactivity, carcinogenicity, verbal abuse from patients, infectious disease, or hostility from other healthcare professionals.

Sure, my reasons for being a pharmacist have changed over the years, just as I, as a pharmacist, have changed over the years. The point is, it doesn’t matter where you practice or what your job title is. We all have a unique opportunity to make a positive impact on our patients every time we put on our white coats and report for duty. In big ways and small, we can and do change patient’s lives.

So hold your head high when people ask what you do for a living. As pharmacists, we have much to be proud of. 

Kelly Howard is a freelance pharmacist in Southeastern North Carolina. Contact her atkelly@gottsman.org or www.thefreelancepharmacist.com