Letters to the editor: January 23, 2006

January 23, 2006

I enjoyed reading Dennis Miller's December Viewpoint regardingwhether a Pharm.D. degree is needed for retail pharmacy. I am afirm believer that experience is the cornerstone of practicing ourcomplex and demanding profession. Yes, I agree that newer and morecomplex drug therapies are being introduced at a rapid rate, but asan experienced and dedicated pharmacy professional, I have theability to find all the needed information about these medicationsand new, advanced therapy systems.

My interaction with Pharm.D. students and recent graduates shows both positive and negative results. Some students have a clear and realistic goal for the future, some are driven by sheer capitalism, and others are in a quandary as to what and where their interests lie after graduation.

I have also noticed that different programs produce different graduates. I feel that some Pharm.D. programs are now diluted to the point of being equivalent to the B.S. program. Are the deans of these schools under so much pressure that they are pushing students through to meet the demand in the market? I often answer that question with a YES.

Hooray for you! Dennis Miller has written what I've been saying for many years.

I have a B.S. degree in pharmacy (graduated in 1958) but can use a DPh title that was given to us several years ago by the State of Tennessee. I'm still not a Pharm.D. and never wished to earn this degree since my professional focus is community pharmacy. I was an independent pharmacist for many years until I sold my practice to a chain where I still work. B.S., Pharm.D., or DPh all paid the same ... my company just wanted to be sure that I had a license to practice.

Mr. Miller hit the nail on the head when he wrote that almost all dispensing errors occur from being overworked and understaffed, not from the lack of education. I usually attain more than the amount of CEs as mandated by my state and consider myself a knowledgeable pharmacist. I also depend on our computer and its updates to take up the slack.

I believe that schools should offer both the traditional degree (B.S.) as well as the Pharm.D. for those who wish to carry that degree.

Eddie Lazarus, DPhELaz6636@aol.com

Not only do I feel that Pharm.D. should continue to be the entry-level degree for pharmacists, but I also believe that all pharmacists practicing 10 years from now should be required to have the degree. Robots and technicians can do many things pharmacists do, but pharmacists must either provide a greater number of professional services or allow machines and technicians to take our place.

The Pharm.D. helps to ensure that the patient receives the right drug and the right advice. We know the questions to ask, we have an understanding of the lab data, and we can see the total picture when it comes to drugs. For many of today's medications, the prescriber knows only what the drug is supposed to do and how often it should be taken. The key is blending our experience and our knowledge to make things better for the profession and the patient. While the computer is a wonderful thing, saying that the computer levels the playing field between the B.S. and the Pharm.D. is like saying the computer levels the playing field between the technician and the pharmacist. It does not.

I have practiced for 35 years. The Pharm.D. has been professionally rewarding to me, and I truly believe that not only have I been able to improve patient outcomes, but I have been able to reduce the number of medications some of my patients take and in some instances come up with more cost-effective medication.

Take the time and look at getting a Pharm.D. It may not be easy. If that knowledge has helped even one of your patients, you will strive even harder and perhaps encourage a few more pharmacists to obtain their Pharm.D. You owe it to yourself, your patients, and the profession.