Pharmacy then and now: 1963 vs. 2016


One difference is immediately noticeable.

Back in 1963, Drug Topics, The National Newspaper for Retail Druggists, dedicated its April 8 edition to new graduates entering the profession of pharmacy. Nine full tabloid pages listed every pharmacy school in the nation, including every dean, class president, and newly minted graduate.

Members of “The Pharmacy Class of 1963” looked quite different from today’s graduates. The majority of the graduates were men, all but one of the class presidents of 68 pharmacy schools listed were male, and only one dean was female, Dr. Blanche Sommers at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, Okla.

The congratulatory ads from the Hoffmann-La Roche, Squibb, and McKesson & Robbins companies, which were recruiting pharmacists for their organizations, were geared to new male graduates. Their ads included depictions of the new male pharmacist, and one specifically wanted to add “fifty men to our staff of professional service representatives.”


Opportunities in pharmacy included many of the areas in which pharmacists practice today: retail pharmacy, hospital pharmacy, manufacturing, education, detailing, governmental and armed services, and wholesaling.

The emphasis, however, was on retail pharmacy because, as Drug Topics’ Editor Louis E. Kazin, RPh, wrote, retail pharmacy was where “most of the Class of 1963 will find employment.”

A state-by-state comparison of pharmacy opportunities in 1963 revealed that in most areas of the country, retail pharmacists were in demand. There were four exceptions - Alaska, Connecticut, Louisiana, and South Dakota - for which secretaries of state pharmaceutical association classified the employment prospects for retail pharmacists as “fair.”

If you go to our story Supply of pharmacists outnumbers jobs, you will see an analysis provided by the Pharmacy Workforce Center that delineates the variations between supply and demand for pharmacists around the country. As of November 2015,  the states with the highest demand for pharmacists are Alaska, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

Good advice

In his address to 1963 pharmacy graduates, Perry A. Foote, president of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, encouraged new graduates to become involved in their local, state, and national pharmaceutical associations, and to “adopt a spirit of enthusiasm for pharmacy. It will carry you far on the road to success.”

That spirit continues to inform the profession. Philip P. Burgess, RPh, MBA, a former Walgreens executive and pharmacist (profiled on pages 14 and 31) urges today’s graduates to continue to participate in their local pharmacy associations and to be active in the political arena.

“It’s key for pharmacists to see themselves as changemakers,” Burgess said. “If pharmacists ever get provider status, it will be because we are out there selling the message, not just to legislatures, but to the public.”

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