US Pharm. 2015;40(2):1.
I’ve been a licensed pharmacist for 45 years. For the first few years after becoming credentialed, I bounced around from one retail pharmacy to another searching for the ideal position. I even managed a supermarket pharmacy for 3 years and did a short stint in a relatively small hospital pharmacy. But what I really wanted was a store of my own. My dream eventually came true … twice. I became the owner and operator of two independent pharmacies that brought me a great deal of personal and professional pleasure. There is no question that I was an idealist believing that the profession of pharmacy would only change for the better, offering pharmacists more opportunities to collaborate with physicians, which in turn would elevate their status among other healthcare professionals. Unfortunately, the evolution of that scenario was excruciatingly slow. Because of poorly constructed pharmacy insurance programs, profits eroded. And while my personal expectations for the profession never wavered, on the basis of my experience at the time I saw little hope for my stores. It was with a heavy heart that I made the decision to leave the once-stable world of retail pharmacy a decade after first putting the key in the door.
Determining to put my enthusiasm for the profession to better use, I accepted the opportunity to write for a pharmacy journal. I spent the next 30 years in medical publishing, where I had the unique privilege of attempting to move the profession’s needle positively though dialogue and discourse. In return for my efforts, it was not unusual for me to receive correspondence calling me “naïve” and “out of touch with reality,” along with an assortment of other insults. Despite this, my optimism for the profession never faded, and to this day I continue to push for pharmacy provider status, payment for pharmacist counseling, and anything else that would further raise the standing of the pharmacist in the eyes of consumers and politicians.
My spirits have been buoyed recently by a flurry of articles portraying pharmacists in a positive light. Last month, the National Governors Association (NGA) distributed a white paper urging states to “consider engaging in coordinated efforts to address the greatest challenges pharmacists face,” which will allow them “to develop policies that permit pharmacists to practice within the full scope of their professional training across the health care continuum.” This NGA paper also caught the attention of Steven C. Anderson, president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, who commented that the paper enhanced the “increased recognition by lawmakers—and the nation’s governors—of the evolving role of pharmacists in the healthcare delivery system.” The paper, he said, urges “an exploration of enabling pharmacists to work to the top of their license to better serve patients in the states.” Another article, published by Forbes, cites pharmacist, in a study by the job search website CareerCast, as one of the best healthcare jobs in 2015. And yet another poll, conducted by the well-respected Gallup organization, found that Americans placed pharmacists on a par with physicians as the second-highest profession, exhibiting honesty and ethical standards; only nurses scored higher.
As someone who sees the profession of pharmacy as a glass that is half full, these articles are encouraging enough for me to continue to promote the professionalism and value pharmacists bring to the healthcare table. It’s time for pharmacists to become recognized by lawmakers for what they do in keeping this country healthier through medication therapy management. Hopefully, if we all act in unison, it won’t be long before the glass is neither half full nor half empty; the glass will be filled to the top.
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