Although many pharmacies practice compounding, few pharmacy schools teach this skill to students. Should all pharmacy students learn specialized skills?
In his August 16,2013 newsletter@CompoundingToday.com, Editor Lloyd Allen states, “These numbers simply emphasize that compounding pharmacy is a vital and growing part of health care today! The training of pharmacists has long been handled by colleges of pharmacy. However, we are in a situation where the colleges of pharmacy in most universities are not adequately training pharmacists to do the exact thing for which pharmacists are known, and there is no other profession charged with this responsibility.”
He asks whether this lack of proper training of student pharmacists is malpractice on the part of pharmacy educators. I understand where Lloyd is coming from. He and I are from the same era of pharmacy. His career as a pharmaceutical educator was in the area of physical pharmacy, a subject that is receiving less emphasis in today’s curriculum. Allen makes the point that there is a lot of compounding going on in pharmacy today, but many schools do not teach it. It seems like his solution would be to teach this skill to all student pharmacists as was done when I went to school. For a while this was done and clinical pharmacy was taught as specialized area to some student pharmacists using elective courses or post graduate training programs.
Here’s the question I want to pose: What skill set should be taught to all pharmacists as a foundational role and, then, what specialized pharmacy practices should be taught to selected individuals? I think pharmacy education has it right—teaching clinical skills as an underpinning knowledge base, so all pharmacists can help patients manage their drug therapy outcomes. Those pharmacists who want to do compounding would then take elective courses to learn that role.
Do you agree or do you think what truly differentiates a pharmacist from other health team members is the understanding of drug dosage forms and how to make them accurately and safely? Has the essential role of the pharmacist changed over the last 50 years? At first, I wasn’t sure but now I think it has upon reflection. What do you think?