The Cynical Pharmacist (TCP) dropped by my site and left a great comment in response to my Why pharmacy continues to fail. I don’t know who TCP is, but I hope to meet him in person some day. I get the impression that we would have some great dinner conversation; some pharmacy related, some not.
You can see more of his musings on Twitter – @TheCynicalRPH
TCP makes some great points in his comment, and in my opinion his thoughts reflects the sentiment of many pharmacists practicing in the real world. I was going to refer you to the comment, but felt it would be better to post the meat of it below:
Here’s my opinions –
I agree with you that pharmacy is on a precipice of massive change, and like everything else in this world, it’s all about money and power.
Subtle clues convinced me that it was headed this way long ago. If one reads the various medical, nursing, and pharmacy journal articles, it’s easy to notice. The medical and nursing journal articles NEVER have authors telling them what their roles should be, or how they should practice their profession. Almost every other pharmacy journal article has the phrase “the role of the pharmacist” somewhere in it’s description. It seems to me that we’ve always been desperately looking to find and describe a role for us since 3rd parties came into the picture. Now, it’s supposedly MMT.
These articles also point out a reason why pharmacy is so fragmented and why we haven’t fully been able to communicate with each other and work together. These same authors are often “telling” pharmacists “how” they need to practice their profession, as if we are beneath them instead of being their equals, or like we aren’t capable of doing it right. It sends a negative subconscious message to other pharmacists.
In my experiences, pharmacists also waste inordinate amounts of time competing with each other contemptuously in order to prove to themselves that they are smarter, richer, or somehow “better” than the “other” pharmacists. It seems that way since I’ve been a pharmacist, and I first experienced it in school. While we were foolishly fighting with each other about what pharmacists should be doing, how to do it, and who’s better, the profession’s enemies did away with us.
Like they say.. divide and conquer.
Also, while we were bullshitted by our leaders years ago that technology will “help” the pharmacist, I believe it will eventually replace us. If you ever visit or work for a PBM, you’ll see that robotics has already replaced pharmacists, and the BOPs give them special preferences because of their robotics are more accurate. Think about this too – how many hospital pharmacists do you know whom carry smart phones or other hand-held devices that they automatically pull out when asked a question by a doctor or nurse? Everyone, right? So, what’s to stop those other healthcare providers from doing the same thing? Why try to find, and consult with, the pharmacist, especially one they don’t like, when they can use the same devices the pharmacist does, but quicker and with less effort?
The same goes with community pharmacy. It’s “been” a given that third parties, and some of our chain “colleagues” have already, and will finally, make it so that no individual pharmacist can make a living through “legally” operating an independent pharmacy. Even the chains are finding it difficult now.
In chain pharmacy, everything has become automated and computerized, with improving capabilities being discovered daily. Corporate powers concerned with the bottom line, again with help from some of our “colleagues”, have enabled technicians to take over our traditional roles altogether, and have almost fully pushed us out of the pharmacy. So, where are we to go?
Of course, our “colleagues” in higher education, probably fearful of losing their jobs, or of having to work front line positions that they may consider “beneath them”, try to find ways where the system can use pharmacists. Again, we don’t have a defined role anymore. It’s always changed throughout the years, and like I said before, now it’s MTM.. or what I like to call “babysitting”.
But, of course, we are not “smart enough” or “capable enough” to handle that job. In order to teach us to be almost as equal to our journal colleagues, we must pay higher tuition rates, enlist in residencies and become certified. Instead of 6-years of college education we have, we’re now “unofficially” required to have 8-years or more of education in order to considered “good enough” to provide the same services we’ve been already providing for years.
So, now that would give us the same amount of education required to becoming a physician – someone considered a “provider” by Medicare, someone who can bill insurances for their services, a decision-maker, someone who is able to make their own treatment decisions and prescribe, or even someone who can command an equally-educated pharmacist to be his/her handmaiden.
If you ask me, why spend the time and money becoming a pharmacist instead of a physician, or why not even spend less time and money becoming a nurse, whose roles are already defined, and who seemingly have the ability to bring their profession together as a whole?