US Pharm. 2007:32(12):1.

Whatever winter holiday you celebrate, it's that time of year again when we all become kids for a few weeks. It's also that time when we treat our friends and neighbors with the utmost respect and try to forget about the sagging economy, make a special effort to remember those less fortunate than us, and pray that our soldiers who cannot celebrate the holidays with us are safe and return home quickly. It is also that time of year when many of us will vow to change our lives for the better in the coming year.

I've been writing an opinion column for more than 25 years. And almost every year I devote my December column to a review of the past 12 months in which I tend to comment on how tough the previous year was for pharmacists. I certainly have plenty of material to use, for a year doesn't go by that I don't receive mail from pharmacists complaining about poor working and economic conditions, and a general disrespect for the profession by government officials and others responsible for reimbursing pharmacists. Since I thought that approach was too depressing, this year I think it is more appropriate to look toward the future.

Over and over again I hear retail pharmacists saying they are their own worst enemies, repeating the mantra that they alone are to blame for the plight of today's pharmacist community. Looking at it from a historical perspective, I would have to agree with them. How many pharmacists belong to and actively participate in discussions taking place at state or national pharmacy associations? How many pharmacists actually contribute their time and money to political action committees that regularly lobby Washington on key issues facing their profession? If you answered "not me," you really do only have yourself to blame, because as bleak as things seem to look, you have the power to make a difference. History has proven that individuals can and do make a difference. If every pharmacist took responsibility for their own actions, this profession would have a powerful voice in how it is ultimately perceived before government officials, consumers, and other decision makers.

I've occasionally been called a "fossil" out of touch with reality because I don't work behind the pharmacy counter on a regular basis. While I may be guilty on both counts, I do have the privilege of seeing the opportunities and challenges facing this profession from a very different perspective than the average pharmacist working "behind the bench." The anonymous emails (of course they're never signed) and letters accusing me of being out of touch don't really bother me. However, I am bothered by correspondence from pharmacists who write to me admitting they've done nothing and actually take responsibility for the way things have turned out for their profession. Many have thrown in the towel saying the situation is hopeless. Call me the eternal optimist, but I don't believe that is true. In fact, I see better days on the horizon for pharmacists. Turning around this profession is like a big ocean liner trying to make a turn in rough waters. It takes time, patience, and perseverance.

It also takes the power of one. Not only do individual pharmacists have to take responsibility for their actions; if they are serious about moving this profession in a positive direction it is essential that the goals and objectives be unified. What we need is the power of one unified voice for pharmacy; the power of one unified mission; and the power of one unified vision for the profession. So, as we greet another year, I ask that one of your New Year's resolutions be a pledge to embrace the "power of one."

I would like to take this opportunity to tell you all how much I appreciate your support and readership. I am sincerely honored to be able to represent a small part of our profession. I wish you and your families all a very joyous and healthy holiday season and a prosperous and fulfilling New Year.

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