Tuesday, September 14, 2010

State of the Profession.....Unity

For the past nine months, I've been writing this blog to attempt to get pharmacists to look at where the profession has been, where it is currently, and where the future lies. I've shared my commentary on some issues that have popped up, thrown in some posts for a laugh, and griped some.

The medical fields are changing quickly. We, as pharmacists, need to know where we are and where we are going. If we don't adapt to the changes that are occurring, we may find ourselves to be extinct.

Over the next few weeks, leading up to American Pharmacists Month, I'm going to run a series of posts on issues that I perceive to be important as we move forward. Be forewarned, my experience has been in the retail environment for the past 15 years so my writing will be biased towards those who practice in the retail setting. I don't have the numbers, but I believe that most pharmacists work in a retail setting so I believe that we should address issues facing those in retail first.

That being said, the first topic in my state of the profession series is...


When you describe your occupation to somebody that you just met, what do you say you are?

  • Retail pharmacist?
  • Clinical pharmacist?
  • Consultant pharmacist?
  • Hospital pharmacist?
  • Nuclear pharmacist?

All of these are valid answers to the question. But the answers are part of one of the problems we face as professionals.

We fragment ourselves.

By identifying with the particular practice setting we are involved with, we break ourselves down into, for lack or a better term, special interest groups. Me, I work in a community retail setting. If I view myself as a retail pharmacist only, I'm not going to concern myself with issues that affect other practice settings. By self-segregating ourselves into these groups, we lose the ability to speak as a whole profession.

I still have my dictionary from college. One of the definitions of unity in my dictionary is the quality or state of not being multiple : ONENESS.

Do you feel that the profession of pharmacy is unified? If not, what can you do to bring the profession into a state of unity?

I'm going to offer a simple solution that will hopefully start to bring unity to the profession. The solution lies in the answer to the question that I posed earlier.

When somebody asks you what your profession is, there is one and only one answer:

I am a Registered Pharmacist


The Redheaded Pharmacist said...

Eric, when I tell people what I do I usually just say "I'm a drug dealer" and be done with it but your answer is better. We should all identifiy ourselves as pharmacists and as being part of one collective group instead of fragmenting our profession into these different subgroups all the time. And as usual, you are spot on with your post and your commentary. Looking forward to the rest of the installments in your "State of the Profession" series.

Firestarter said...

Good idea, our teachers call them selves simply teachers instead of pharmacists, so they should also call them selves as pharmacists i think.

The Ole' Apothecary said...

I'm a pharmacist.

Say what you might say about pharmacy, but the profession gives us an unambiguous title. There are people whose titles (IMHO) are a smoke screen for featherbedding. That is, when the axe falls, they could get chopped out. When I read "deputy assisant director of subpar central fission sectors," I think it is just a political, or eben a nepotismal, appointment.

I'm not saying that anyone in any type of work is indispensible (we pharmacists could be decimated in numbers tomorrow by some movement or gadget), but It is very rare that I have to explain the profession.

I would drop the "registered" part of it, though. All pharmacists must secure governmental permission to practice. And, in the spirit of your theme, let's have just a single word by which we call ourselves. It's like nursing. A nurse is a nurse, whether his or her credential is registered, practical, or vocational. Divvy up the levels of practice AFTER the introduction, not before.

Anonymous said...

I'm a pharmacist. The conversation usually moves to where I work, but I don't start out with my type of practice.

I think we are further fragmented by the two degrees. When I sign something, I sign it Joe Pharmacist, R.Ph. I see some with a Pharm D sign Jane Pharmacist, PharmD. I was asked by an drug company what my degree was, R.Ph. or PharmD. I tried to explain that I had a BS in Pharmacy and that those with a Pharm D would also be R.Ph. to no avail.

Anonymous said...

I, also, am a pharmacist. When I was in pharmacy school, one of the professors told us that all pharmacists were registered so that descriptor was not needed.

Phathead said...

I agree about dropping the Registered part. It's one of the more dated aspects of our titles.

When an M.D. is asked what they do for a living, they reply that they are a doctor. Invariably the next question the layperson asks is, "Oh, what specialty?"

That is where pharmacy needs to get. To have an awareness that we can specialize in community or hospital or nuclear or so on and so forth.

Then again, that all comes back to a re-education of the public, but that is another post.

Eric Durbin, RPh said...

It looks like we all get the point, based on the comments here, emails, and DMs on Twitter.

The next step is to get our fellow pharmacists to describe themselves in the same manner,