It is hard to believe that at 17 we all knew we wanted to become pharmacists for the next 50 years of our lives? After all, most of us had absolutely zero experience as you must be at least 18 to work in a pharmacy (in most states). So the interesting question is actually quite simple. What led us to enter the pharmacy field? Did we really know much about pharmacy coming into our freshman year of college?Yes, many of us knew there was retail and hospital, but there are so many other niches in the pharmacy profession. Besides retail or hospital, we have consulting pharmacy, managed care, government (for example, the U.S. Public Health Service, which includes the FDA and the Indian Health Service, and the Bureau of Prisons), insurance companies, as well as the pharmaceutical industry. With so many areas of practice within pharmacy, why have so many graduates of MCPHS gone the retail route? I honestly find it hard to believe that our dream was to work at a job where we could never sit down, slog through insurance issues and get yelled at by customers because their co-pays are too high.
So again the question remains, why pharmacy? To be honest, I feel that at 17 we were young and immature. Heck, we weren’t even legally adults. The main incentive that I’ve heard from many students about why they chose pharmacy was the money. To be frank, the allure of a six-figure salary brought many of us to pharmacy school. Maybe we came because we thought that becoming a pharmacist would lead to a big payday. So if we came for the wrong reasons, will we leave with the right intentions?
It seems that to become a successful pharmacist, you need to enjoy at least one of two things. First, you need to have a passion for the science (the knowledge behind pharmacy such as disease states, pharmacology, kinetics, etc). However, you must also love the practice, actually being a pharmacist in the real world. Unfortunately, with the stressful workload and the pressure to do well, the love for the science is lost. But many of us like at least one aspect and then you have the infinitesimal, exceptional group that enjoys both the science and the practice of pharmacy. These students are the ones that have a love for pharmacy and are likely to advance the profession. Unfortunately, those that love neither the science nor the practice may not be in pharmacy school for the right reasons. Will they make good pharmacists?
Let’s face it; we all need money and the paycheck that a pharmacy career promises is nothing to scoff at. However, with so many schools and so many students that are graduating each year, I feel we are obligated to ask ourselves, are we graduating top-caliber pharmacists who truly care about the profession of pharmacy? Sure, you say that if they pass the NAPLEX, they are qualified, but maybe we merely have learned to be able to study and pass a test without actually learning, because we don’t care about what we are learning. One cannot look solely at pass rates, but also introspectively for the love for the profession that helps drive an excellent, high-quality, patient-focused pharmacist.
The content of this particular blog entry does not represent the official views of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) nor of The Rho Chi Society or the Psi Chapter of the Rho Chi Society at MCPHS. The content represents solely the view of the author