Another great article from The Redheaded Pharmacists...
The profession of pharmacy is in a state of flux right now. Many are wondering what the long-term prospects are going to be for our great profession. What will happen to pharmacists in the future? What direction are we collectively headed?
One of the things that inevitably happens during such a critical juncture is the tendency to panic. Many pharmacists are worried about their future within our profession. What will happen to the job market for pharmacists going forward? What will community pharmacy look like in say five or ten years? Will independents survive?
Among all this worry and fear about the future there seems to be a lack of focus on one very positive aspect of change. With any change comes opportunity. But will our profession seize that opportunity?
A fun past time for many pharmacists lately is to try and predict what any new potential healthcare legislation will mean for the overall healthcare system and our individual jobs. We are somehow supposed to dust off some magical crystal ball and look into our collective futures with clarity and confidence. The future though doesn’t often lend itself towards such clarity.
I’ve often thought about what more government intervention into the healthcare system will mean for pharmacy. But such a volatile subject is too difficult to accurately predict. What I’m more concerned with is the role of pharmacists in the future of healthcare.
But what I’ve noticed is that for many within our profession, the word change is synonymous with something that has a negative connotation. There is much more fear than optimism among pharmacists when the subject of the future is brought up. We’ve relegated our own thoughts to assume the worst.
I think there are positives that can’t be ignored. Pharmacy has huge opportunities to make a difference and to solidify ourselves as integral parts of the healthcare system. We can improve outcomes. We can save the system money.
Think about the opportunities related to serving the aging baby boomers or the growing epidemic that is diabetes or obesity. What if pharmacists stepped up and filled the role of patient care managers and helped people live healthier lives or managed their chronic diseases more effectively?
What if the government fundamentally changes our healthcare system and expands coverage to millions who up until now were on the outside looking in? Can we handle that opportunity to meet the needs of all those new patients?
What if the healthcare laws are struck down or otherwise fail to be implemented? Doesn’t that still provide pharmacists with great opportunities to serve patients and improve outcomes?
As a profession we need to fear change a little less and embrace our opportunities to adapt to change a little more. This may involve a fundamental change in pharmacy practice models but why is that idea a bad thing? Change is only bad for those that fail to adapt. We have the means to adapt and thrive. But are we willing to do so?
The statistics don’t lie. We have an aging population and a huge explosion of obesity and diabetes. Cancer and heart disease are still killers that don’t discriminate. Patients need help managing chronic diseases and improving their quality of life. Why not have the profession of pharmacy meet all of those needs?
I think many of us focus on the negatives that now face our profession to the point where we become blinded to all the potential positives. Pharmacists can expand and enhance our roles as patient care providers and help reduce healthcare costs at the same time. We need to be willing to open our eyes and look at the opportunities around us.
I’m not saying that changing our profession to meet the evolving needs of our healthcare system will be easy. It will take leadership and courage. But that doesn’t mean it is a lost cause or that it can’t be done. A little faith will go a long way for all of us.
Change is coming. What it will look like and even when it will arrive may be up in the air. But you can count on change as an inevitable part of life. My question is this- won’t that change create opportunities for pharmacists willing to embrace it? Will we be willing to listen as this opportunity knocks? I sure hope so.