What is pharmacy?
If you look up the word “pharmacy” in a dictionary, one of the definitions is the art of preparing and dispensing drugs. Although the definition is simplistic and still true, it is also outdated. The word “pharmacy” was originally born in 1651.
Fast forward 362 years later, pharmacy still exists but its scope has broadened. Even the way we are trained to be pharmacists have changed. We complete four-year doctorate programs like medical doctors. We learn about human anatomy, physical assessments, and therapy like doctors. We study several more pharmacology courses than doctors. Pharmacists are licensed by a governing board and must uphold their education like doctors. Pharmacists are "pharmacy doctors".
Is all this education needed just to “prepare and dispense drugs”? Couldn’t a robot do the same things? Yes, it can.
In this author’s opinion, the modern day definition of pharmacy practice is the art of selecting the best medication therapy for patients based on their history, physical assessment, co-morbid conditions, and socio-economic factors. Pharmacists collaborate with the prescribing physician and other members of the medical team to provide the best treatment outcomes for patients. The best therapeutic options are medications that are appropriate and adhere to national recommendations or guidelines.
Whether you are a pharmacist at a retail store or an ambulatory pharmacist or an academic professor, we all practice pharmacy. You practice pharmacy whenever you counsel a patient, who is overwhelmed by the selection of antacids and probiotics. You practice pharmacy whenever you call the physician to recommend a different anti-psychotic that will not interfere with the patient’s other medication. You practice pharmacy whenever you teach your students how to counsel patients by asking open-ended questions. You practice pharmacy when you publish an article that educates patients about their medications and helps improve their compliance. Pharmacy is practiced in many settings. In all settings the goal is the same, ensure the best therapeutic outcomes for patients.
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