Letters: August 2009

August 10, 2009

Pharmacists speak out about new pharmacy schools, professional standards, and big-box manners.

Key Points

In an April survey of Rutgers pharmacy students entering their final year of practice-experience rotations, 80 percent indicated that they believe that the current supply of pharmacists in New Jersey and surrounding states exceeds the demand.

Our 2009 graduates are experiencing much more difficulty in obtaining full-time positions than we have seen in the past. Several have been forced to accept offers in distant parts of the United States. In light of the astonishing expansion in the number of schools that will be producing graduates in coming years, the current demand for pharmacists in our region calls into question the prediction of AACP's William Lang that jobs will be available for all future graduates. "

I entered pharmacy school in the mid-1970s when federal capitation grants allowed schools in the health professions to greatly increase enrollments. The cry from the profession was that this would soon create a glut of pharmacists, and unemployment would become rampant. It never happened. Then, when we began allowing pharmacy technicians to do much of the preparation work previously done solely by pharmacists, the cry went up that technicians were going to put us out of work. It never happened.

In my department, we accept students from four different pharmacy schools and provide opportunities from the P-1 level on up. My pharmacists and technicians work hard to provide all our students with a quality experience that includes much personal attention. It costs us in our time far more than the schools compensate us, but we are dedicated to helping tomorrow's pharmacists obtain quality experiential opportunities.

I believe society is just beginning to grasp how complex and dangerous medication therapy can be. Once all aspects of pharmacy practice fully embrace the opportunities MTM and medication safety are creating, we will continue to find ourselves with an ongoing pharmacist shortage even with all these new schools.

Paul L. Witkowski, MS, PharmD
ALLIANCE, OHIO

Loving ourselves

A great religious teaching is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. On many occasions I wonder whether pharmacists love themselves, judging by the way they treat each other ["Colleagues, not competitors," May 2009]. I have been placed on hold by other pharmacists for 20 minutes. I have had pharmacists pick up the phone, find out I am another pharmacist, and put me on hold again. I hate to think how much money is lost by pharmacists waiting for other pharmacists to answer the phone. Probably millions.

Leonard L. Edloe, BSP, PharmD, MDiv
RICHMOND, VA.

Nothing is more annoying to me than calling one of my big-box competitors and getting put on hold while they finish the prescription they are working on, counsel the patient, reprimand the tech, clean off the counters, eat their lunch, and then maybe, just maybe, take the time to give me a copy.

I, like you, am usually quick to respond to a fellow pharmacist on the phone. I am used to being treated as a "less than" by doctors' offices, insurance companies, and even some of my patients, but I feel our brothers and sisters at the bench should understand our plight and take even the smallest step to alleviate it!

I think I am going to fax your article to the local Walgreens - and hope that I don't call for a copy while they are busy reading it!

Michael J Anderson, RPh
WISCONSIN RAPIDS, WIS.