Consider this a Top Ten list of the things our profession should be doing to ensure that pharmacy remains a strong and vital part of the healthcare system. We could all use some goals in our day to day professional lives. Here are some of the top things I think our profession should focus on going forward.
(1) Unify! Without question the one shortcoming I see with the profession of pharmacy is the lack of a uniformed voice to represent all of us regardless of practice setting or interests. Whether you are a clinical hospital pharmacist, a consultant, a community pharmacist, or if you work in one of the many other areas of our profession there should be one large and strong pharmacy organization that represents us all.
(2) Educate! Not only do we all as pharmacists need to challenge ourselves to gain more education, but we should also strive to educate the public about what we do and why we are important. Public perception does matter, and if they don’t know why we are a vital part of the healthcare system, we might be considered expendable. That just isn’t true and we should show the world why! We must also educate pharmacy students so that they are well prepared when entering the professional ranks as new pharmacists.
(3) Expand! Yes, things like medication therapy management (MTM) services can be the future of our profession. But only if we lay the foundation for providing those services on a large scale. Bringing additional services to even rural pharmacies all across the country should be a top priority. We’ve succeeded in becoming the go-to profession for vaccinations against illnesses such as the flu, so why not provide other services on a large scale? Health screenings or disease management services would be a natural extension of our responsibilities. And while these sorts of services might already be offered, they could be greatly expanded.
(4) Be Politically Active! It’s no secret that I personally feel like the profession of pharmacy is doing a poor job of making our voice heard in the political arena. Despite my personal distaste for all things political, even I can’t deny that politics matters (and I’ve written about that very subject). As a profession we should be doing more to make sure politicians don’t legislate us out of the healthcare system completely. Phone calls, letters, lobbying, and other methods of involvement can be done to help ensure our best interests are being served. There’s really no excuse for not being politically active as a profession.
(5) Promote Ourselves! No one should be a bigger cheerleader for the profession than ourselves. Promoting our services can be as important as actually doing the services in the first place. We can accomplish great things in the area of patient care. Why not promote those achievements a little more? Pharmacists do many positive things every day. There is no reason why we can’t start taking a little credit for our collective accomplishments. But in the public eye, usually you only hear about a pharmacist’s actions only if something has gone horribly wrong! Let’s work to change that.
(6) Fight negative change! Nothing needs more improvement for the profession of pharmacy than our resistance (or lack thereof) to negative changes. We often sit back and allow the world to change in a negative way and then complain about how things after the fact. We should be fighting negative change before it happen. Being proactive against negative developments can mean preventing them from occurring. But waiting until after the changes happen and becoming outraged after the fact means we’ve become involved too late.
(7) Collaborate! I know it’s difficult for pharmacists from all practice settings to meet and discuss issues that affect our profession. But even if you don’t have time for formal organization meetings, at least become connected to the social media scene. Discussing issues that affect us all can help us better understand the problems we face and come up with unique and viable solutions. Isolating ourselves away from the rest of the profession means we aren’t going to learn those valuable alternate perspectives.
(8) Stay Informed! One of the worst things about major developments affecting pharmacy is simply not knowing about them. Read and stay tuned to the news related to our profession. Visit news sites, publication sites, blogs, or whatever other sources of information you can find. Being in the know means you are more prepared to meet any challenges you will face. It’s easy to get caught up in your own individual career, but it is a big mistake to ignore the big picture. Keep up and know why things are important.
(9) Overcome adversity! No one said advancing a profession would be an easy task. Things will happen to you personally and to the profession as a whole that will negatively impact pharmacy. But it is how we all react to those negative developments that will define us as a profession. Bad things will happen. That is a fact. But they don’t have to define the profession of pharmacy or lead to our collective demise. We can learn from the negatives that come and better ourselves for the future as a result.
(10) Serve Patients. This isn’t listed last because it is the least important. In fact, if I had ranked my list by importance, I’d probably put this as number one. At the end of the day, the profession of pharmacy is a service profession. We have the opportunity to improve outcomes, lower costs, and raise the quality of life for patients with all types of medical problems and conditions. Sometimes we get caught up in all the other things related to the profession of pharmacy and we forget what really is the bottom line: patient care. A renewed focus on helping patients improve their health and well-being will only help us as a profession going forward.
Those would be my top goals for the profession of pharmacy. We will be facing lots of challenges as a profession going forward, but I think if we focus on the above ten things, we will at least have a good chance of coming out ahead as a profession. What do you think? Have I forgotten any important goals we should be pursuing? Do you agree with the 10 focus points I’ve explained above? Let me know what you think!
Article by pharmacytimes