Pharmacist Feature Friday: Profession has Changed, But the Role of a Pharmacist is the Same

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Simply said, some 43 years ago, I went to work for an independent pharmacist, below minimum wage, for the chance to learn something about the profession of pharmacy. The concept of utilizing my skills to aid patients with their healthcare was gratifying. The more I worked, interacted, and learned from this mentor, the more I wanted to be involved with the profession of pharmacy.

I completed my undergraduate studies, and then attended Samford University School of Pharmacy for my Bachelor of Science degree. My career has taken many, unpredicted, but wonderful iterations! The profession has changed so much from the original journey I envisioned.

I have worked in a retail setting, where I have had the distinct honor of interacting, and developing lifelong friendships with many of my patients. As a pharmacist, I have participated in their families' growths through the happy illness-free times, and then assisted them with sorting through the more challenging illnesses, and medication administration issues to drug interaction questions. Now, I can further protect their families by disease state management, and administering vaccines.

Yes, the current dialogue is about many business metrics, prescription volumes, workload concern, etc... but at the center of all these issues, the pharmacist still remains as the most accessible and trusted healthcare professional. Often times, the pharmacist is the most uniquely qualified individual to triage and interact with the patient. This thought has never be far from my mind as I interact with the challenging, contentious patient to the delightful patient. My career has been blessed with more of the latter!

As a consultant pharmacist, we improve the quality of life for our senior population. A great number of patients are nursing home bound with multiple medications, possible interactions, and chronic disease states. The pharmacist is at the forefront of patient care by evaluating pharmacotherapy appropriateness. I completed my Doctor of Pharmacy degree at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences. Now, I utilize these skills as a clinical pharmacist at a large hospital, where I evaluate appropriateness of antibiotics, total parental nutrition, and anticoagulation. I am also involved in diabetes and pain management. This is far from a comprehensive list of the vital functions a pharmacist completes daily.

Yes, things have and are changing, but my vision to aid the patient with their healthcare needs has not changed. The pharmacist and our pharmacy organizations have etched out the many areas of the new pharmacists’ job role. No, the change has not come overnight or easily, but the opportunities, and the involvement of a pharmacist in each and every facet of our patients’ care is a reality.

One of the most rewarding and privileged activities of my pharmacy career is working with the young pharmacists, residents, and students. It is my honor to mentor, and precept students, and residents. These students are the next generation of pharmacists. This new generation of pharmacists will have limitless patient interactions and healthcare opportunities. As pharmacists, we will continue to advance patient care initiatives and national provider status. I am excited to be a part of these new adventures in our profession!

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