Over the past few months, I have been active on Linked in, forming a group, Pharmacy Connections, to present a forum for pharmacists to air their concerns regarding the state of the pharmacy profession. There are so many issues which have been presented, leading me to the conclusion, which has always been prevalent in pharmacy, that we need, as a profession, better representation by pharmacy organizations and state boards.
When I graduated pharmacy school in 1987, the profession was wide open. Recruiters lined up at testing sites after the exam to sign up potential candidates, jobs more than plentiful. We controlled our present and future back then. What happened? The separation between hospital pharmacists and retail pharmacists, PharmD's versus RPh's created a schism which has never healed. The corporations which control our profession-hospital and retail, have dictated how we must operate as pharmacists. They have petitioned and lobbied state boards and state legislatures to increase the number of pharmacy programs to ensure that there is a surplus of eligible pharmacists. They have replaced experienced, older pharmacists with new graduates, saving money for stockholders. They have initiated immunization programs in retail pharmacies to increase the profit margin, giving pharmacists the illusion that they are enhancing the profession. If you refuse to immunize, you are targeted for dismissal. Twelve and 13 hour shifts have become the norm; no breaks, standing on your feet all day. Technology and increasing the pharmacist to technician ratio have replaced positions, traditionally filled by pharmacists.
Who speaks for pharmacists? Why are we so divided that we cannot properly represent ourselves to the corporations which have the tremendous influence to get exactly what they want without input from pharmacists? Why does the American Medical Association (AMA) have a powerful lobby, to ensure that they are represented before the state and federal legislative bodies? We join the pharmacy organizations, hoping that something will be done. We are too content to collect large paychecks but we forget that we need to be treated with respect by our employers. Do we have any input into what our state boards are accomplishing?
Our employers fear collaboration in any form. They are threatened by unionization. They want us to remain sheepishly quiet and accept our lot so that their bottom line supports huge salaries for upper management within the corporate structure. I'm not saying that a union is the ultimate answer because I know that most pharmacists are intimidated, the fear of dismissal, terrifying. I am saying that we need to have an organization, which combines every subgroup of pharmacy, to provide a strong voice, to stand up to the corporate structure, to lobby state legislatures and the federal government. Yes, we presently subscribe to our various organizations but do we hold them accountable to our demands and our rights?
I propose an organization to consolidate the activities of every group which represents us-state boards and every other organization. We need to open communication between each pharmacist and the groups which should be presenting our issues. We need to take control of our profession!
Please go to my group on Linked in, Pharmacy Connections, and join. It's time to get it together! Express your concerns and your suggestions to improve pharmacy. Stand up for your rights!