The Greatest Profession

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

Touted by U.S. News & World Report as a top career for 2009, pharmacy offers unique opportunities for growth and professional fulfillment.

Dr. Swanson is currently serving as executive resident with the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists. He is a 2008 graduate of Campbell University's School of Pharmacy.

My first 25 years have beenblessed ones. I have grownup in the best of familiesand shared memories with the closestof friends. I have learned under thegreatest of teachers in the classroomsof school, church, and life—teacherswho showed me that I really could beanything I wanted to be. I should not betoo surprised, then, when I look backon my first 6 months as a pharmacistand realize that I belong to the greatestprofession.

I will admit that I may be a bit biased—only a bit, though, and I amnot alone. Those outside the field ofpharmacy are beginning to notice justhow great our profession is, too. InDecember 2008, U.S. News & WorldReport published "The 30 Best Careersfor 2009." The fact that pharmacy wasincluded on the list is not what struckme—I was counting on that. Rather, itwas why the periodical chose to spotlightpharmacy as one of the year's topcareers. Did it have to do with income?The write-up included just 2 small sentenceson salary data. Job security wasonly briefly alluded to. The opportunityto work flexible hours was not evenmentioned. Aren't these the things thatmake for such a great profession? Icertainly do not think so.

The article noted that our professionis a changing one, and those changesqualify it as a "best career." With ever-risinghealth care costs and a consistentdecline in the amount of time physiciansspend with patients, the role ofthe pharmacist is evolving into that ofa primary care provider. Pharmacistshave long been regarded as the mostaccessible health care professionals,but these days, we are able to offerour patients so much more than triage:from medication therapy consultsto bone density screenings, immunizationsand lipid panel evaluations, evendiabetes education classes. Althoughpharmacists have long claimed ownershipof many of these activities, a lackof reimbursement for the provision ofthese services always seemed to say,"We really do not see value in what youare doing." Thankfully, that is beginningto change.

This is not about tooting our ownhorn. It is about reminding ourselveswhy we chose pharmacy as our life'scareer in the first place. Was it reallyabout the money, the job security, theschedule? My guess is that it was not—that it was about the patients we couldhelp and the lives we could touch. Inthis season of change, take a momentto reflect on how you can make thisgreatest profession even greater.