Looking to the Past and Future During American Pharmacists Month


In October, we celebrate American Pharmacists Month.

Written with Stephen Caton, PharmD Candidate 2019 Harrison School of Pharmacy Auburn University

In October, we celebrate American Pharmacists Month. During this month, pharmacists are encouraged to celebrate their profession, highlight their skills, and reach out to their patients in various ways, including using social media.

Evolving from antiquity as an integral part of medicine, pharmacy is one of the oldest professions in the world. During the time of King James I in the early 17th century, Western society is credited as having established the first independent pharmacist guild. However,

the formal distinction of the profession of pharmacy is traced back to the early part of the 19th century.

“Apothecaries” were early community pharmacies where medications and remedies were compounded and dispensed. These establishments were also the site where patients could receive front-line medical advice. These European traditions traveled to the new world and flourished for centuries.

The major changes in the profession of pharmacy in America began in the 20th century. Governmental regulations such as the creation of the FDA and numerous pieces of legislation gradually molded the field of pharmacy into what it is today. However, with the dynamic health care environment, the role of the pharmacist is constantly changing.

The job of a pharmacists is shifting away from being focused solely on dispensing medications. Pharmacists are focusing on a patient-centered models of care to improve health outcomes. In both the community and clinical settings, pharmacists direct their goals toward medication and disease state management, counseling, vaccinations, collaboration with other health care providers, and preventive care screenings.

According to the National Pharmacist Workforce Survey, in 2014, 60% of pharmacists provided medication therapy management and 53% performed immunizations. Ten years earlier, only 13% of pharmacists provided medication management and just 15 percent administered vaccinations.” (CVS)

This is just one of the many examples of how pharmacists' roles in the community has changed in just the past decade.

Medication therapy management and vaccinations are just 2 of the many progressive and patient-centered skills pharmacists are offering to patients both in outpatient and inpatient facilities.

Ask your pharmacist today about smoking cessation counseling, diabetes management and care, anticoagulation therapy monitoring, and lipid screenings. In addition to pharmacists in the community and clinical settings, pharmacists also provide invaluable research in numerous “hot topic” fields such as oncology, genetics, and infectious disease.

The only thing constant about the profession of pharmacy is change itself! I challenge you this October to ask yourself, “As a pharmacist, what am I doing to highlight my skills, celebrate my profession, and reach out to patients?”


Hartley, Frank, et al. “Pharmacy.”

Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. 1 Nov 2013. [cited 13 Sept 2017]. Avaliable from


“The Role of Pharmacists in the Changing Healthcare Environment.” CVS Health. 26 Jan 2017. [cited 13 Sept 2017]. Avaliable from


Zebroski, Robert.”A Brief History of Pharmacy.” St. Louis College of Pharmacy. c2017. [cited

13 Sept 2017]. Available from


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