National Pharmacy Week, American Pharmacists Month Have Been Celebrated for Nearly a Century
The first “National Pharmaceutical Week” was proposed at the 1924 APhA annual meeting. In 1925, the inaugural week celebrating pharmacy was held from October 11 to 17.
The first “National Pharmaceutical Week” was proposed at the 1924 annual meeting of the American Pharmaceutical Association (APhA) by Robert J. Ruth, a pharmacist from North Carolina. One year later in 1925, the inaugural week celebrating pharmacy was held from October 11 to 17.
Ruth envisioned this would be a week to commemorate the contributions made by pharmacists to their patients and communities. The original intent of this week was to remind pharmacists of their responsibility to the public to uphold a standard of ethics.1 Seventy-nine years later, the APhA expanded the week into a month-long celebration.
Since 2004, October has been officially designated as American Pharmacists Month with the popular campaign, “Know Your Medicine, Know Your Pharmacist.” This slogan was chosen in effort to raise awareness about the positive impact of open communication and a personal relationship between patients and their pharmacists. It remains popular almost 2 decades later and continues to appear on promotional and pharmacy advocacy materials.
APhA also selects an annual theme to highlight a timely focus for the profession. These themes are meant to promote the best of the profession and to feature pharmacists’ roles and contributions to the public and medical community. Themes such as “Easy to Reach and Ready to Help” and “Essential Providers, Accessible Care” reinforce the accessibility of pharmacists at all times, who have long been considered one of the most frequent points of contact for patients.2
For 2021, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the national campaign has been named “You Stand By Us All.”3 This theme highlights the profession’s selfless and tireless dedication to patients, even under the most difficult of circumstances. Throughout the pandemic, pharmacists have made countless personal sacrifices in order to serve their communities throughout the pandemic.
While American Pharmacists Month is often the most visible celebration of the profession in October, it is not alone in recognizing pharmacy each fall. Although “National Pharmaceutical Week” evolved into American Pharmacists Month, the third full week in October remains designated as “National Pharmacy Week.”
This week is promoted by the American Society of Health-system Pharmacists, who, like APhA, selects an annual theme to foster timely awareness of the profession.4 The 2021 theme of “Pharmacy Strong” compliments the American Pharmacists Month 2021 theme, as it advocates for the endearing role of pharmacy in even the most difficult of circumstances.
In recent years, 2 days in October have also been set aside to honor important groups within pharmacy: October 12th is now designated as Women Pharmacist Day and October 19th is Pharmacy Technician Day.4
Interestingly, some states have begun their own campaigns to celebrate pharmacy during October. The Alabama Pharmacy Association, for example, recognizes pharmacists this year with the campaign “Our Members Are Heroes. Thank You Pharmacists.” Additionally, throughout the country, many cities, towns, counties, and states make their own proclamations in October that celebrate the value of pharmacy and its contributions to patient care and the community.5-6
Often, pharmacists celebrate themselves by planning events for others. Each October, activities are scheduled to draw attention to pharmacy’s role in patient care. Health screenings, clinics, special education or counseling, staff member spotlights, giveaways, and even pharmacy tours (where allowed) are held to promote the profession. An endless number of other recommendations can be found on numerous pharmacy and campaign websites.
These patient-centered activities fulfill the vision Ruth had when he first proposed a time designated to pharmacy awareness. While there is no single, consistent way to celebrate, there is likewise no wrong way either. What is more important this National Pharmacy Week is to acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments, contributions, and wholly unique role each member of the pharmacy profession plays in our communities and our patients’ lives.
Quick facts about the history of Pharmacy Week - FSHP. fshp.org. (2019, October 18). Available: https://www.floridapharmacy.org/page/APM
Pharmacy Times. (2021, March 4). Pharmacists ranked as second most trusted profession in Annual Gallup poll. Pharmacy Times. Retrieved September 15, 2021, from https://www.pharmacytimes.com/view/pharmacists-ranked-as-second-most-trusted-profession-in-annual-gallup-poll.
American Pharmacists month. American Pharmacists Association. (n.d.). Retrieved October 4, 2021, from https://www.pharmacist.com/About/Leadership/American-Pharmacists-Month.
National Pharmacy Week. October 17-23, 2021. American Society for Health-System Pharmacists. Available https://www.ashp.org/pharmacy-practice/resource-centers/public-relations/national-pharmacy-week?loginreturnUrl=SSOCheckOnly
American pharmacists' month - Alabama Pharmacy ... - aparx.org. aparx.org. (n.d.). Retrieved October 5, 2021, from https://www.aparx.org/?page=37.
American Pharmacists Month: Its history, and the impact of Pharmacists in America. MedPro Healthcare Staffing. (2014, October 10). Retrieved October 6, 2021, from https://www.medprostaffing.com/american-pharmacists-month-its-history-and-the-impact-of-pharmacists-in-america/.