The Pharmacist's Manifesto


Pharmacists do not become pharmacists just to dispense medications.

Pharmacists do not become pharmacists just to dispense medications.

They do not do become pharmacists just to make a lot of money. They do not complete 6 to 8 years of study just to feel important or be patted on the back.

Pharmacists become pharmacists because they want to help patients.

I still remember the day when the “Oath of a Pharmacist” was read aloud to my newly graduated pharmacy school class. The feeling of accomplishment filled me, and I felt proud and nervous to begin the career for which I had spent the past many years preparing.

The oath revised by the American Pharmacists Association in 2009 reads as follows:

“I promise to devote myself to a lifetime of service to others through the profession of pharmacy. In fulfilling this vow:

  • I will consider the welfare of humanity and relief of suffering my primary concerns.
  • I will apply my knowledge, experience, and skills to the best of my ability to assure optimal outcomes for my patients.
  • I will respect and protect all personal and health information entrusted to me.
  • I will accept the lifelong obligation to improve my professional knowledge and competence.
  • I will hold myself and my colleagues to the highest principles of our profession’s moral, ethical, and legal conduct.
  • I will embrace and advocate changes that improve patient care.
  • I will utilize my knowledge, skills, experiences, and values to prepare the next generation of pharmacists.

I take these vows voluntarily with the full realization of the responsibility with which I am entrusted by the public.”

These points should be important to all pharmacists. Many of them embrace the reasons we chose pharmacy in the first place. We care, respect, and work toward change and preparation for the future of our profession.

The oath neatly wraps up the ideas and beliefs pharmacists should hold dear, but is it really applicable in the day-to-day grind of pharmacy work and life?

The retail pharmacist who dispenses medications with minimal staff has something to add to the conversation.

The pharmacist overseeing warehouse fulfillment operation on a reduced staffing budget would probably worry about the optimal outcomes for patients.

The hospital pharmacist held tightly under a metric goal of so many orders per hour would probably worry, too.

There is balance between profit margins and production regardless of what field is discussed. Physicians and nurses are also under tight restrictions, and at the end of the day, the patient is the one who may suffer.

What does it mean to consider the welfare of humanity and relief of suffering to be our primary concern?

It could mean that when a nurse phones for an immediate dose of a pain medication for a patient, we should do all that we can to make the time from the phone call to the medication’s delivery as short as possible.

It could mean that when someone is out of medication refills in a retail setting, we attempt to help if we can.

It could mean that we do all what we can to make sure that medications are checked and double checked for accuracy and advocate for standards of certification for technicians.

The list goes on. As long as the pharmacist keeps the patient in mind, how could it be argued?

Providing the best possible care for the patient should be the pharmacist’s manifesto.

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