Why Pharmacy Should Be the Most Trusted Profession


The possibilities to promote the pharmacy profession are limitless.

For most of the 1990s, Gallup’s annual Honesty and Ethics Poll ranked pharmacy as the most trusted profession. That top spot now belongs to nursing.

Several factors led to this shift, but one thing we can learn from nurses is the power of promoting the role of the pharmacist. This comes at a pivotal time for our profession, when obtaining provider status is within our grasp.

The possibilities to promote the pharmacy profession are limitless. We must represent ourselves as professionals every time we interact with patients, other health care professionals, and the general public.

How you look and dress should support the ideals expected from a health care professional. The knowledge base that we cultivate in pharmacy school could be easily overlooked if we do not present ourselves well.

Presenting as a competent professional begins by introducing yourself with your full name and title. When you show respect for yourself and your occupation, people will show you the same level of respect.

Master the art of communication by learning how to articulate clearly. Public speaking and effective writing skills are crucial abilities that pharmacists and pharmacy students can use to promote the profession. Consider presenting health information for local community groups, join outreach committees, participate in political activities, and stay active in professional associations.

As you begin to learn more about policy issues, especially those concerning pharmacy, reach out to public officials by e-mail, letters, or phone calls to express yourself and your view. Increasing the visibility of the profession is a major step toward obtaining the formal provider status we deserve.

The federal bill, H.R. 4190, would provide coverage for pharmacist services under the Medicare program. If passed by Congress and signed into law by the President, the bill would insert the following new subparagraph in the Social Security Act:

“Pharmacist services furnished by a pharmacist, as licensed by State law, individually or on behalf of a pharmacy provider—(i) which the pharmacist is legally authorized to perform in the State in which the individual performs such services; (ii) as would otherwise be covered under this part if furnished by a physician, or as an incident to a physician’s service; and (iii) in a setting located in a health professional shortage area…”

If passed, H.R. 4190 would have some of the most significant implications for pharmacy practice seen in years. The bill supports cost-effective health care by increasing access to care and minimizing long-term health care costs such as those associated with preventable higher-cost conditions.

Several professional pharmacy organizations advise pharmacists to become more actively involved in promoting provider status legislation. Some of their suggestions include educating legislators about the role that pharmacists play in patient care and participating in town hall meetings to inform the public about the issues that affect pharmacy practice. Effectively communicating how pharmacists contribute to the community demonstrates the value of the profession, as well as the importance of passing H.R. 4190.

For an example of how the profession can successfully achieve greater reimbursement for clinical services, pharmacists should look to nursing. In 1990, reimbursement for nursing services was available only in rural areas and skilled nursing facilities. Seven years later, Medicare expanded reimbursement of nursing services to all geographical and clinical settings. This success was earned through the powerful political actions of the American Nurses Association, which cited outcomes data to show how nurses add value, led partnerships with specialty organizations, and empowered grassroots movements by local nurses.

Obtaining pharmacist provider status is within reach. Pharmacists need to continue their efforts to demonstrate the value that we provide to health care. Cultivating the pharmacy profession will better prepare us to become more actively involved in the health care industry.

H.R. 4190 is our ticket to claim our rightful place as providers, but this window of opportunity will not last. I urge my fellow pharmacists to put their best foot forward and get involved.

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