Recently, Pharmacy Times invited a small group of pharmacy students to participate in a roundtable discussion on "Pharmacy Practice Issues." Our intention is to share this discussion in our fall Pharmacy Careers publication for pharmacy students. Because I have spent a great deal of my career as a faculty member and have spent a lot of time with pharmacy students, I know that today?s pharmacy student is brighter, has more life experiences, and, therefore, is more mature than those who went to school with me. In fact, I have often said that I was glad I applied to pharmacy school when I did because I probably would not be admitted today with such a competitive admission process.
This recent roundtable discussion, however, confirmed for me that my experience with pharmacy students in 1 school of pharmacy is the norm. These 9 panelists representing 8 different schools of pharmacy were both insightful and articulate. They knew the issues affecting pharmacy and shared ideas on how to tackle them. They felt prepared to enter practice because their curricula meet their needs. A majority of the participants felt that their management training appropriately prepared them for practice, although several students admitted that this area did not receive enough attention in their curriculum. Nearly all the participants were in their third professional year, so they had completed most of their classroom education. Therefore, the discussion was based on their experience in pharmacy school, not their perceptions. Although plans can change, their career interests varied.
In assembling the panelists, we invited someone from the school to recommend a participant. Thus, we probably got the best students. In that sense, the panel may not be a true representation of all students. On the other hand, student pharmacy leaders often become pharmacy leaders too, so I felt that I was listening and seeing students who would be the leaders in pharmacy during the next decade. I was encouraged.
My generation is often critical of the younger generations. We were more focused, more dedicated, and more selfless, we think. How will our country or our profession survive when we pass on the mantle of leadership? When we stop generalizing, however, and look at the individuals in pharmacy schools today, we must admit that these are great people with as much zeal for life and desire for success as we have. Instead of criticizing today?s young people, start looking at what makes them stand out. I think you also will realize that pharmacy?s future will be in excellent hands.
Fred M. Eckel, RPh, MS
Professor and Director
Office of Practice Development and Education
School of Pharmacy
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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