Letters to the editor: September 18, 2006

September 18, 2006

Regarding your Aug. 21 cover story on the all-Pharm.D. system, I think first and foremost that many respondents to this topic are missing the big picture. Professionally, having one entry-level degree is definitely the most intelligent decision on behalf of pharmacists. Physicians in this country all have M.D.s, although their practice settings are quite varied and may be analogous to the variety of pharmacist practice settings.

The degree, in and of itself, does not a professional make. Presumably, it has provided the educational tools to prepare the individual as a pharmacist, which is what we all are regardless of degree. Professionals are distinguished from other categories of careers in that learning and education are never-ending. To this end, how the individual pharmacist undertakes professional development and continues to grow will determine the quality of clinical service provided. I am aware of B.S. pharmacists who, through their diligence in practice and learning, have achieved solid recognition and advanced practice far beyond many holding the Pharm.D.

Professionally, we need to stop bickering and infighting about who has what and get on with patient care and medication safety. The curricular decision has been made and it's the national standard. California pharmacists all earned Pharm.D. degrees long before the national conversion and have practiced in all settings with the same degree. The value of our profession will be seen not by the degree(s) but the professional contributions made and their impact on health care.

I am a B.S. pharmacist who elected to not go the Pharm.D. route, because I already have an extensive clinical practice and have been clinically involved with my patients for over 35 years. Even as an administrator, my decisions are driven by patient outcomes.

I have had Pharm.D. graduates with very good grades who just could not communicate with patients, physicians, other pharmacists, or nurses. I have had 42-year experienced pharmacists who have managed very well. I don't believe it is the degree that makes the pharmacist; I believe it is the attitude and the environment. Give me the basic knowledge and a positive attitude, and everything else can be taught.

So many people measure worth-their own and that of others-by the number of letters at the end of the name. Your pharmacy license should give you the credentials to manage medications for patients. I am offended that ASHP or APhA wants me to pay them to allow me to continue to practice clinically as I have in the past. When we first began our lipid clinic, we felt administration would be more "comfortable" if at least one or two were "credentialed" in lipid management. We took the day off, took the $25 exam, and came on home and credentialed our fellow pharmacist. In two years they wanted another $100 for me to take the exam and continue to call myself credentialed! Now it is $300 for the same $25 test, and I need at least four different exams. And, by the way, that does not cover all of the clinics that we have! What other profession does this to itself?