Pharmacists do not become pharmacists to just dispense medications.
They do not do it just to make a lot of money.
They do not go through 6-8 years of study to feel important or to walk around being patted on the back.
They do it (at least I hope they do it) because they want to help a person, a patient, who needs help.
I remember the day the Pharmacist’s Oath was read aloud to my newly graduated pharmacy class. The feeling of accomplishment filled my being, and I felt proud and nervous to begin the career I had spent the last many years preparing and studying.
This is the updated version in 2009 by the American Pharmacists Association:
“I promise to devote myself to a lifetime of service to others through the profession of pharmacy. In fulfilling this vow:
• I will consider the welfare of humanity and relief of suffering my primary concerns.
• I will apply my knowledge, experience, and skills to the best of my ability to assure optimal outcomes for my patients.
• I will respect and protect all personal and health information entrusted to me.
• I will accept the lifelong obligation to improve my professional knowledge and competence.
• I will hold myself and my colleagues to the highest principles of our profession’s moral, ethical and legal conduct.
• I will embrace and advocate changes that improve patient care.
• I will utilize my knowledge, skills, experiences, and values to prepare the next generation of pharmacists.
I take these vows voluntarily with the full realization of the responsibility with which I am entrusted by the public.”
These points should be important to all pharmacists, and many of them embrace the reasoning we chose pharmacy in the first place. We care, continue to learn, respect, remain ethical and work toward change and preparation for the future of our profession.
These points sound well and good. It wraps up neatly the ideas and beliefs we should hold dear; however, is it applicable in the day-to-day grind of pharmacy work and life?
The retail pharmacist that dispenses with minimal staff has something to add to the conversation.
The pharmacist overseeing warehouse fulfillment operation on a reduced staffing budget would probably worry about the optimal outcomes for patients.
The hospital pharmacist held tightly under a metric goal of so many orders per hour would probably worry as well.
There is a balance between profit margins and production regardless of what field discussed. Physicians and nurses are under tight restrictions as well and at the end of the day, the patient is the one who may suffer.
What does it mean to consider the welfare of humanity and relief of suffering to be our primary concern? It could mean that when a nurse phones down for an immediate dose of a pain medication for a patient, we should do all we can to make the time from phone call to patient receiving the medication as small of a time as we can. It could mean that when someone is out of medication refills in a retail setting, we attempt to help if we can. It could mean that we do all we can to make sure in the warehouse setting that medications are checked and double checked for accuracy and advocate for standards of certification for technicians. The examples go on.
Go above and beyond for the patient. If a pharmacist keeps the ultimate customer in mind, the patient, how could it be argued? Providing care for the patient should be the pharmacist’s manifesto.