I was recently at a conference called the Pharmaceutical Care Lyceum in the middle of nowhere in central Minnesota. It was a great conference and with a very laid back environment. How often could you wear sweatpants to a conference and no one cared? The temperature was FREEZING, but the debate was heated. The Pharmaceutical Care Lyceum was about perceptions in pharmacy practice and really trying to figure out what the hell we are doing as a profession. The group that attends is primarily ambulatory care, clinic based pharmacists. There is definitely a smattering of other folks as well which enhances the discussions.
The discussion that really intrigued me was a fellow colleague bringing up the fact that we do so much infighting in pharmacy practice when really we should all being doing a better job of supporting each other. A big challenge I see with pharmacy practice is that we are so different in our roles and that leads to different goals sometimes.
An example that came up was professional organizations and how some groups are working to get better reimbursement rates for the sale of medications, while others in the same organization are seeking provider status and to enhance the ability to expand the role of the pharmacist in the clinic setting. In comparison to nursing groups, we don’t have that many people to be fighting against each other. We have all worked incredibly hard to demonstrate the value of what pharmacists can do and I think that shows in that we are one of the most trusted professions.
Something I have struggled with was not doing a residency. I’ve gotten over it at this point, but there were several years where I definitely had a feeling of insecurity about this. When I talk to students about this, if they are not applying for residency, they are almost apologetic as to why they aren’t doing one. A residency can absolutely be a useful tool to help open doors for younger pharmacists, but it does not determine the trajectory of your career.
I also remember a situation in pharmacy school (about 10 years ago) where someone was implying that if you went to work at Walgreens or CVS you were inferior. I can remember a classmate who was one of “those” pharmacists who was going to work there. She was very upset. That’s the kind of attitude we don’t need. We all bring value and the location you work at doesn’t determine your professional worth.
I have worked in community/retail pharmacy, long term care, and ambulatory care pharmacy. We need to recognize what all brings us together. We have a simple, common goal of getting the best, safest, most appropriate medications to our patients and ensure that they are taking them as prescribed.
I am very proud of the profession and the progress we have made on provider status. I think everyone understands the urgency and need for us all to be recognized as healthcare providers.
I don’t have a perfect answer here in how to best create bridges amongst the variety of pharmacy practices, but I would ask that you recognize the value of each pharmacist and the challenges that each setting might present. If you are in a clinic like I am, go out and try to meet some of the community pharmacists in your area to create a face to face connection. You might be surprised how helpful that simple gesture can be.
What experiences do you have with the potential conflict that exists between the different pharmacist roles? Please be respectful.
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