Should Students with Cerebral Palsy Be Permitted to Become Pharmacists?


A student with cerebral palsy is battling to become a pharmacist.

I stumbled across an article the other day about a gal with cerebral palsy who desperately wants to get into pharmacy school, but the program’s physical requirements may prevent her from getting in.1

Her cerebral palsy would make it challenging, if not impossible to do many things that are required by a pharmacist. “Spasticity makes it difficult or impossible for her to do anything with her hands, which she often keeps clasped,” the article states.1

As I read the article, my initial gut reaction was that if she has the mental capability and grades and can beat out the competition, then there needs to be a way to get this gal into pharmacy school.

I realize that it is easy to look at this from the outside and say, “accept her,” but all of the accommodations that will need to be made for her potential candidacy will be very significant. I think back about 5 to 10 years ago, prior to having kids, and I can’t help but wonder if my reaction might have been a little more rigid back then.

If she can’t do everything that everyone else can, then she can’t be a pharmacist. She won’t be able to compound drugs, do a physical assessment, check blood pressure, or administer a vaccine. She really won’t be able to do a lot of the things that most pharmacists can do, but should exceptions be allowed?

As I look at the situation today, I can’t help but think about being one of the parents of this woman. Watching your child grow up struggling throughout her life and not being able to do what other children can do must be incredibly challenging. It’s extraordinarily inspiring to watch people overcome obstacles and pursue what they love.

Knowing the profession, and obviously having gone through pharmacy school, I believe this gal is capable of doing many pharmacist-related activities. With the rapid advancement of technology, I believe she would only be able to do more and more activities as her career advances.

What role could she take on in her pharmacy career?

Could she be a world-class pharmacy educator, going around the world promoting the profession she loves? Absolutely.

Could she round with physicians and nurses and provide expert clinical advice? Absolutely.

Should she be prevented from pursuing those opportunities because she cannot make an IV by herself? If she is academically qualified to get into pharmacy school, then I think it should happen.

Should a pharmacy license be given to people based upon what they can’t do, or should it be based on what they can do?


1. Springer P. Student with cerebral palsy fighting NDSU pharmacy school's regulations that bar her entry. The Forum. December 12, 2015.

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