Times, They are a-Changing...
The present time lays claim to being the period of the greatest rate of change in human history.
The present time lays claim to being the period of the greatest rate of change in human history. Our intellectual, technological, scientific, political, and societal lives are transforming at paces unexperienced in the past. Because change is commonly associated with anxiety, the world is being flooded with negative energies previously unseen. This fact, however, is not where the story ends. The panoply of our lives (intellectual, technological, etc) is also changing in ways unpredicted even a few years ago. Unfortunately, there are a few final aspects that make the massive and unforeseen changes even more traumatic: change is not easy and is not getting any easier, change is not smooth, and change does not always lead to advancements—at least not immediately.
Thankfully, we are not living a “3-strikes-and-you’re-out” existence. We are, instead, at what may be thought of as the most opportune time to become masters of our own universe and to thrive like never before. Because we have had tremendous advancements in our understanding of how our world works, how we fit into our micro and macrocosms, and how we can advance as a unitary “organization” (eg, worldwide civilization), we might consider this the best of times and not the worst of them.
For many, on an individual and a professional level, the lack of a clear difference between the traumatic and opportunistic parts of our world is resulting in what could be considered a “bipolar outlook disorder.” On the one hand, there is optimism unlike any before, and on the other, there is uncertainty, chaos, and fear. This disorder, while not fatal, certainly has no single cure; even if one did exist, it might work on the individual level but not necessarily the professional level (or vice versa). Similar to other diseases, it might be amenable to manipulations based on cutting-edge science and an ever-deepening understanding of the inner workings of the brain and body. It is certainly, however, similar to other diseases that are negatively impacted by hopelessness and victimhood.
Pharmacy and pharmacists are not immune to these pressures and uncertainties. Indeed, many (and some would say most) aspects of the pharmacy world have undergone fundamental changes in the recent past, so some mental trauma should be expected. Thankfully, not all of these changes are inherently negative. Indeed, many have led to expanded roles of pharmacists as key health care professionals, to better health care outcomes and disease management, and to higher job satisfaction rates in some sectors. There is a very dark side to these changes, however: some changes have led to increased disenfranchisement, higher stress levels, and a belief that the primary raison d’être of the profession has been corrupted beyond recognition.
Identifying who is right in this debate is perhaps an unsolvable conundrum. For sure, focusing on finding fault may compound the negative issues and do nothing to advance the positives. Taking more than cursory looks into the issues may help set up action plans that will help us understand the changes and better position us to enhance the good and minimize (or even eradicate) the bad.
It is with this backdrop that we are happy to embark on a journey with you, readers of Pharmacy Times, that will take us into some of the darker depths and brighter vistas of our world. We’re taking advantage of some of the more progressive of our human advancements: communication technologies and deeper understandings of how the human psyche works (or doesn’t). Over the course of the near future, we will share with you a number of reflections about the current state and future opportunities of our profession, how pharmacy education may be radically different in just a few short years, how the practice of pharmacy may evolve into one that doesn’t involve the dispensing of medications at all, and how we may be able to create an army of learner-players who take health care to an elevated and transcendent level, quite possibly beyond your wildest dreams.
Get ready to read, view dynamic slide presentations, and be enthralled (and possibly appalled) by videos on a wide number of topics mostly avoided in the past. Why are we doing this, and why is Pharmacy Times supporting such an endeavor? Because we care about you and our profession. We want to do what we can to ensure a place for us in the future. And we want to help you find meaning, purpose, and flow in your professional and personal lives. You, and we, are worth it.
Gary Keil, PhD, RPh, serves the Pharmacy Leadership & Education Institute as a board member, acts as National Program Co-Director at Beautiful Mind Strong Body Center, LLC, and is the Co-Owner of Evolutionary Health.