An Exciting Future for the Scope of Pharmacy Practice

Pharmacy CareersPharmacy Careers Fall 2015

Who would have thought that the girl who could not even swallow a pill at the age of 14 would pursue a career as a pharmacist?

Who would have thought that the girl who could not even swallow a pill at the age of 14 would pursue a career as a pharmacist?

Since I disliked taking pills—and medicine in general—with all my heart, I never thought that I would choose to devote my life to helping individuals in a health profession focused on medications. I quickly realized, however, that pharmacy was not just about learning to fight my old fear of taking pills. As I learned that pharmacy is much more than simply dispensing medication safely, I recognized that it was something that I could see myself doing.

I have always known that I am more of a math and science person than anything else, but medical school did not seem like a good fit. Pharmacy offered another path to a secure and flexible career for my future. More importantly, however, the reason that pharmacy looks to be right for me is the positive effect that pharmacists can have on patients’ lives. My time at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) has opened my eyes to how significant that role is and how the widening scope of practice allows pharmacists to have a tremendous impact on public health. I want to be a part of these efforts, which are growing significantly day-by-day.

One way to broaden the scope of pharmacy practice is through point-of-care testing (POCT). POCT, including strep tests and flu tests, provides services that benefit public health in general, but it is especially helpful for those who struggle with access to health care.

With most Americans living near a community retail pharmacy, pharmacists can be the most accessible health care professional for the general public. Also, with the convenience of the community pharmacy, patients can receive immediate care. As an emerging pharmacist, this is exciting news because I want to be there to help patients get the care they need, especially those who have difficulty accessing a physician. It is an exciting time for pharmacists to expand their role and work at the top of their license. POCT will allow pharmacists to administer more services to their patients.

Pharmacists now have a larger role with the incorporation of POCT, but they can also help in the fight against antibiotic resistance, which has become an important health care issue, since there could be a post-antibiotic era if we do not change the way we handle antibiotics now.

It is terrifying to think that someday a simple illness that is now easily cured by antibiotics could seriously harm a patient simply because the bacteria that cause the illness have become resistant to the antibiotics that were once used to fight it. This is where the pharmacist comes into play, as pharmacists are highly respected for their ability to counsel patients.

Pharmacists can help patients by taking simple steps that will have a major role in reducing antibiotic resistance: monitoring patients’ medications and instructing them in how to take antibiotics correctly.

After I graduate from pharmacy school in 2020, the world of pharmacy will undoubtedly be different from what it is today. Opportunities to help patients, however, will only increase. POCT and antibiotic resistance are just 2 topics that I was exposed to at NACDS, and I continue to learn more and more about the field of pharmacy every day.

The effect that pharmacists can have on patient lives is incredible. The field is developing day-by-day and future pharmacists like me can either sit back and watch it happen or participate in the change that is happening right before our eyes. No longer will I be the girl with the fear of taking pills. Instead, I will be the one working alongside them, improving patient lives 1 pill and service at a time.

Parker Shay is a pre-pharmacy student at the University of South Carolina.

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