July 22, 2013, by Cerina

Is Pharmacy really just a waste of time?

Some people believe that a pharmacist often appears under the shadow of many other healthcare professionals and it now also appears that Phillip Lee, a leading conservative MP for Bracknell, seems to be one of these people.
A recent article from the PJ online, that I had read a couple weeks ago, detailed the events of the debate on the health expenditure discussed not too long ago. I was surprised to see that the role of a pharmacist was described as a ‘false one.’ He has said that all GPs should instead dispense drugs. But is this really a good idea?! Surely WE are the EXPERTS in medicines and medical treatment.

Over the years, the role of a pharmacist has also expanded from providing a small dispensary service of medicines to being a vital contact in promoting health and well-being as well as providing a variety of healthcare services to the public. This has become evident with services like diabetes and blood pressure screening becoming more readily available in many local pharmacies. These are only some of the reasons as to why I cannot seem to comprehend his statements.

What will follow now are my ideas on the basis of pharmacy and a pharmacist’s role, not just in community but in different working environments.

I believe the roles within pharmacy are primarily endless. Pharmacists can work in several sectors which include: academia, community, industry and hospital.
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Pharmacists within academia do not necessarily involve themselves directly in healthcare however; they instead consider the basic grounding of the profession; for example law and ethical issues. This is particularly important during legislation and regulation that GPs would have little knowledge in.

On the other hand; community pharmacists appear to be at the forefront in dealing with various minor ailments as well as dispensing and providing a good quality health service to the local community. Pharmacy in this sector has expanded in order to take a more active role on people’s health. This may benefit GPs saving them time and allowing doctors to deal with more serious cases.
Similarly, hospital pharmacists deal with many of the same issues, many of which are very severe. A patient’s medicines taking history record can be taken of current and previous medications in order to prevent side effects and regulate their medicine intake. What’s important to note here is the fact that, GPs do not have the same expertise in medicines and thus a pharmacist’s role becomes vital in a patient’s healthcare.
I myself have had a vast amount of experience in both community and hospital sector and believe that the subtle differences between the role in the two are reasonably clear and are as important as each other.

Having said this, pharmacists within the industry are in fact not very common although many pharmaceutical companies like GlaxoSmithKline are becoming more globally renowned. In this environment, pharmacists contribute towards the entire journey of a medicine – from the study of its chemical properties to patient adherence. Pharmacists here provide clinical scientists within the industry greater clinical awareness on tasks undertaken.

So all in all, I don’t agree with Phillip Lee opinions. Pharmacy is not only growing but it is also profession that is versatile, applicable and much needed in many sectors of the working industry. Could this be a reason as to why a pharmacist’s role becomes disputed in such a manner? Simple because it has no definite role, but instead includes a variety of responsibilities depending on the work environment?
What do my readers think of this issue and Philip Lee’s opinions on pharmacy? The full article can be accessed on the PJ website by registered readers or paid subscribers.

I would also love to hear from fellow pharmacists or future pharmacists and how you would describe your career role. By exploring the different career avenues in pharmacy, we can help prevent misconceptions and work together. A statement I have taken from the article, made by Martin Astbury (the President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society), describes this more clearly:

‘We need improved prescribing and concordance — that means more not less integration.’


Posted in Pharmacy in the newsUncategorized