I Want To Be a Pharmacist
I want to grow up to be a pharmacist. Well, not really: let me explain. I recently ran across a woman who told me how her income had expanded exponentially in the last 3 years since she decided to become an immunization pharmacist. I am pretty up on healthcare matters, but I had never heard of such an occupation before.
I swallowed my pride and asked exactly what she did for a living. She explained that she is contracted to an independent chain of pharmacies to provide vaccinations to walk-in patients at their retail pharmacists. She gives flu shots and immunizations-providing not just education and counseling, but administering the shots as well. She will sometimes visit homes or skilled nursing facilities and charges per vaccination administered. Pharmacists can do that??
Apparently many professional pharmacy associations with the support of the CDC agree that pharmacists have the knowledge and expertise to provide such a service.
They then make sure this right is written into local pharmacy scope of practice laws, making it legal to do so. Smart!
Over the years pharmacy organizations like the American Pharmacist Association (APhA) and the American Society of Health System Pharmacist (ASHP) have advocated for an expanded role for pharmacists.
This orchestrated campaign started with making the entry level degree a doctorate. What was essentially a bachelor's degree was morphed into a PharmD using very innovative and creative ways to grandfather current practitioners when the change was made. Patients, physicians and healthcare colleagues started looking at pharmacists with renewed admiration. Who does not respect a doctorate?
It has become common practice for pharmacists in hospitals to do clinical rounding, monitor and manage patients on therapeutic drugs, antibiotics, pain medications, anticoagulants and so on. Not only do they use available lab data to adjust dosage, but in many cases they have been authorized to order the lab tests as well. The pharmacist is possibly the most respected individual on the hospital's pharmacy and therapeutics (P&T) committee.Doctors will ask for clarification or rationale, but rarely question the pharmacist's knowledge or veracity.
The Joint Commission and other regulatory agencies have written standards indicating every medication order must be reviewed by a pharmacist. All medication in a facility are under the control of pharmacy and the pharmacists dictate what medications are available on the floors, in what form, and in what quantities.
In states like Georgia pharmacists have made a huge push to perform testing for glucose, cholesterol, pregnancy and so on in retail sites.
Pharmacists, quite rightly, have made a case for an expanded scope based on their education and training. This initiative has been a concerted effort by pharmacy organizations that incidentally have very strong lobbyists in state legislatures.
I have become a little queasy about some of their more aggressive efforts, but for the most part I admire them and wonder why clinical laboratorians are wiling to play shrinking violets rather than being more aggressive.
So, no, I don't really want to be a pharmacist; but I really respect and admire what they have done for their profession, scope of practice and patient care.