My apologies for the spin on the old Monty Python line. The reference seemed fitting. For some, community pharmacy is already dead.
I’m here to warn you to not write the obituary for our work quite yet. While community pharmacy does face a lot of challenges, I’d hardly call us a dead profession.
I’ve heard people reference community pharmacy as being in the past tense. My fellow colleagues have uttered that sentiment a few times to me.
While I can understand the frustrations behind the thought, I hardly agree with it. The future is not yet written for us. Why should we assume the worst?
It’s hard to believe all the changes I’ve seen in my years working in retail pharmacy. And the wheels that have been set into motion can appear to be unstoppable now.
Large retail pharmacy corporations, the insurance industry, state boards, and pharmacy organizations all influence our work. And believe me, not all of that influence is positive.
But simply assuming retail pharmacy is dead is the lazy conclusion. There’s as much opportunity for community pharmacists now as there are challenges. You just have to open your eyes.
We can do things now that pharmacists a couple of decades ago wouldn’t dare dream to do. We can break from a dispensing only function. It’s already happening in so many ways.
Focusing on low prescription margins or the influence of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) ignores the positives. What about medication therapy management (MTM)? How successful has our vaccination services become? Helped anyone with an over the counter drug question lately? I bet you have and then after the fact you didn’t twice about it.
The key for community pharmacists going forward is to build on our successes while working towards solving our problems. And yes, working to solve problems does not mean focusing solely on them or harping on what you can’t fix.
What we must realize is that while there are many things we can’t control, we should work hard to influence the things we can. And doing so will require us to work together. That fact is often overlooked.
I’m looking at a lot of different things in my own life that will help me as a pharmacist and hopefully contribute to the profession as well. For starters, I will attend a board hearing or two in my state. It’s a small step, but a start.
Writing or calling my local media outlets and telling them to report a good story about a pharmacist once in a while is another. Why is it the only time a pharmacist is talked about on the news, it’s for something bad that has happened? We do so much good that is just ignored or overlooked.
I will try to find local pharmacy organizations and attend a meeting. This is difficult to do because of my work schedule but I think it’s important.
So yes, we’re not dead yet. Community pharmacy may be facing challenges and a bit of uncertainty, but we’re still an integral part of the healthcare system. Try not to forget that the next time someone talks down on community pharmacy.
The Redheaded Pharmacist