Why aren't we helping our colleagues, instead of trying to push them aside? Why aren't we creating a pathway for experienced pharmacists to get more training?
Jim "Goose" RawlingsI ran cross-country in high school, and I enjoyed it. We had a strong seven-man team. In most meets, your first five finishers scored, so the lower the score, the higher your team placed. For example, the team would achieve a perfect score if it took the first five places, for a score of 15. We had three strong runners who always finished well, while the last four of us battled for those last two scoring positions.
For one race we ran every year, though, it was the time of the last-place runner that was the most important. The race was called the Hokum Karem. You ran as a team and finished as a team, running in a tight pack with the runner in the back constantly rotating to the front. The faster runners could not run as fast as they wanted to, but usually the slower runners would run their best times of the year, not wanting to hold the team back. Your recorded time was clocked when the whole team had crossed the finish line.
This race was great for encouraging the guys who would never win a race, to let them know they were important too, because they were. The coach never let us forget that, because he was a runner himself - and a good coach. He always stressed teamwork, and he treated all of us the same. There were no stars or prima donnas on his teams.
I get quite a few e-mails from colleagues that all touch on the same theme. Fellow registered pharmacists are not against ramping up their training and education to take on more duties; they just can’t figure out how to do it. Many are paying for their own children’s education, or at least saving for it. They can’t go back to school for a PharmD. They are stuck living life and just trying to get by.
Residency training is not a viable option for RPhs, either. While you don’t need a PharmD to fulfill a residency, you’ll never get one - not with all the PharmDs vying for one now. You also could not afford the cut in pay; these positions usually rate less than half a pharmacist’s salary.
The folks who contact me want the additional training, they just wish there was another way.
Pharmacy organizations and academia, why isn’t there another way? Your shortsightedness has created a race that many of us cannot even run in, much less win.
Take ASHP, for instance, which has set the goal that all pharmacists involved in direct patient care should have a residency by 2020. Tell me, who is working in a pharmacy that isn’t involved in direct patient care? So where are all the additional residencies going to come from? There aren’t enough residencies now for everyone who wants one.
What kind of profession are we when we set our older, more experienced members up for job loss and failure, when we create a standard that will be impossible for many of us to achieve? Even the residents I know can’t figure it out. I know because they ask me, an old RPh, to explain it.
In the future, pharmacy will be known as the only profession that did not let its members finish their careers with their baccalaureate degrees. We are not allowing some of our best and most experienced to finish the race.
Why aren’t we helping our brothers and sisters, instead of trying to beat them? Why aren't we creating a pathway that enables older pharmacists to get more training?
Here’s my suggestion: Vote with your donations and dues. Don’t pay them to universities and groups like ASHP until you see change. These groups understand only one thing … money.
Until we see change, not one dime. From any of us. That’ll do it.
Jim "Goose" Rawlings is a senior pharmacist in central Indiana. He dedicates this article to fellow pharmacy school classmates and former harriers Brian Ayres and Steve Link. E-mail him firstname.lastname@example.org.