A Pharmacist in Every Family Practice?

Getting out of our comfort zone may not be easy, but when we do it, we reap great benefit.

I recently represented my state pharmacy association at an event held for state legislators who were returning to session.

I never look forward to these types of events because I don’t like to strike up small talk with individuals I don’t know. I also find maintaining conversation outside of pharmacy hard, plus trying to eat, drink, and talk at the same time is difficult for me. Like many pharmacists, I’m more of an introvert than an extrovert, but I attend trade events because it’s important for the profession and really for me, too.

At this particular event, I got into a conversation with a lobbyist for a state medical association who was on the other side as we were trying to introduce legislation to expand pharmacist immunization opportunities.

As we started to discuss how we needed to find ways to cooperate in our lobbying activities, he floored me when he said, “I fully believe that within 10 years, most family practices will have a pharmacist as a team member—not to dispense medicines, but to help manage medication therapy.” He went on to suggest that smaller practices may not have a pharmacist, but I noted that they will at least virtually have one, and he agreed.

Here’s what I found encouraging about the lobbyist’s observation:

1. It’s consistent with the role that pharmacy education is preparing pharmacists to perform.

2. It will require more pharmacists as these new opportunities become available.

3. Drug therapy outcomes for patients will improve.

4. Society will have a better understanding of the important role pharmacists play.

5. Most pharmacists will be very satisfied in their role and look forward to coming to work each day.

6. What I’ve been pursuing throughout my career has made a difference.

Driving home from the meeting, I reflected on how far pharmacists have come in our efforts to be recognized as essential members of the health care team. Getting out of our comfort zone may not be easy, but when we do it, we reap great benefit.

I left the event feeling good about my profession and excited for its future. That’s why it’s good to push yourself to do something uncomfortable: it makes you grow.