Pharmacy Times

The Next-Generation Pharmacist: Honoring the Best

Author: Fred Eckel, RPh, MS



As pharmacists emerge as leaders in health care, this program honors the field' brightest stars.

Pharmacy Times, in partnership with Parata Systems, has now completed the third year of recognizing members of the pharmacy profession with the unique awards program called “The Next-GenerationTM” awards—and within it are 10 categories that honor innovative leaders in the industry. Because I serve as chair for the panel of judges, I get to review many of the nominations. My positive sense for the future of our profession is always reinforced as I review the quality of the accomplishments by members of our profession. It makes tangible my impression that our profession makes valuable and often unrecognized positive contributions to society. The reason these efforts are often unrecognized is that much of what pharmacy does is behind the scenes, or done 1 patient at a time.

Being able to recognize these pharmacists in a tangible way through this unique program is one way we can say “thanks” to a few of our readers who are the reason pharmacists are one of the most trusted health professionals. As Tom Rhoads, chief executive officer of Parata Systems, stated at the dinner honoring the 2012 winners, “This program honor(s) outstanding pharmacists, technicians, and student (pharmacists) for their contribution to patients, their communities, and the industry.” He went on to acknowledge that “Over the next 3 years our current health care system will become unrecognizable. Pharmacists are in a unique position to take a leadership role in this emerging environment” since pharmacists “are the hub of the health care system, maintaining connections to other providers to protect patient health.” In fact, patients trust pharmacists “above all other members of their health care team,” emphasized Tom.

Although we had more than 375 applications across 42 states for the Next-Generation PharmacistTM awards this past year, I know we have many, many more pharmacists in our profession who are eligible to be a winner. So, why do you think there aren’t even more nominations? My own impression is that there are at least 2 reasons. First, one can self-nominate, but few pharmacists want to do this. It’s a reflection of the quality of people in this profession. They do what they do because they want to serve people and not for recognition.

Another key reason is that we are all so busy that taking the time to nominate a colleague is something we say we will get around to when we have time, but then never get it done. Then the nomination time passes and we feel bad that we didn’t get it done with so many worthy pharmacists across the country. This year the nominations opened on January 14, 2013—and they are open until April 15, 2013. You can go to www.nextgenerationpharmacist.com or www.pharmacytimes.com and fill out a nomination form for the pharmacist or pharmacists who come to mind as you read this editorial.

In order to increase the nominations we receive, I think it is useful to think about why we have award programs. Recognizing accomplishments says “thanks” to the award winner—but it also encourages others to see value in what they are doing. It says that we are part of a profession that takes care of its own. We appreciate pharmacists for their societal contributions and will take the time to say “Thanks for a job well done.”

It’s also a great way to influence and help students. Student pharmacists can focus their careers as they read about other pharmacists’ careers and get ideas about what they can do in the profession. So I would challenge you to commit to nominating a pharmacist you know deserves recognition for his or her contribution to the profession. With 10 categories to choose from there is a special area for anyone you know. Or, as I mentioned earlier, you could nominate yourself for this special awards program—not to draw recognition to yourself, but as an encouragement to other pharmacists or student pharmacists.

No matter what you decide, this program is an excellent way to honor pharmacists and shed light on the many, many ways we as a profession contribute to the health and well-being of the public we serve.


Mr. Eckel is a professor emeritus at the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is past executive director of the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists.