Having practiced now for 18years both in the U.K and in the USA, I have often found myself wondering what we really do to earn our salaries. In a time when the practice of pharmacy has become more and more automated and patient contact continues to diminish, it is easy to stand back from the counter and wonder what kind of a difference we are really making. The role of the pharmacist continues to evolve, albeit not at the rate we envisioned in our halcion days in pharmacy school. We have seen Nurse practitioners’ numbers triple, Physician Assistant schools multiply and various other allied health fields spring up and yet, it may feel as if we still spend most of our days folding paper, counting pills and scanning our lives away, especially in retail.

There are definitely many issues that I have with what the role of the pharmacist has become both in our own eyes and also in the eyes of our physician colleagues, nurses and the general public. It seems that there is a disconnect between their views of our roles in the healthcare field and what we are actually able to do with the current system. That is a lengthy discussion best saved for a future date.

However, I want you to think about this. All highly paid professionals that I can think of are reimbursed based on the 99% rule. Lets look at some examples to illustrate what I mean. A commercial pilot flies thousands of hours using a completely automated system. He does the same thing over and over again and works within industry established guidelines, rarely ever having to think independently about what a course of action should be. Then a man single handedly, losing both engines on initial ascent, turns the correct way and lands a plane in the Hudson river, saving hundreds of lives. A lawyer spends countless hours preparing routine paperwork over and over again and then, once in a while, a case comes along that makes a huge difference to someone who is a victim or even a huge group of victims. A family doctor sees hundreds of routine cases that could easily be treated using minimal training and knowledge and then, once in a while, he catches something that saves a life. How often does this happen. Maybe 1% of the time. Does it make the rest of the 99% of routine plodding worthwhile?

We are a golden example of this. We have all had that moment when we find something that is not correct. We have all caught mistakes, overdoses, interactions. We have all made a difference. No one else in the pharmacy could have done it. It required a specific training. The buzz that we felt made us feel whole again. It doesn’t happen every day, but it does happen.
We need to work together to create a practice that concentrates our talents and training. We need to be on the ball, stay away from complacency and build our skills to maximize these moments.

By: Darius Randeria, R.Ph ; M.R.P.S ; BPharm (London)
AHS PharmStat, Vice President, Staffing