Professional Advice / Opinions:

The Core Values of a Pharmacist

By: Joseph Lee, Pharm.D. Candidate c/o 2013

In the book, Strengths Finder, Rath describes thirty-four different strengths that people possess. At the end of the book was an extensive survey, which included a plethora of questions that, through an algorithm, was able to identify my five strengths. One of my strengths was belief. The following is an excerpt from the description of one who possesses the theme of belief:

If you possess a strong “belief” theme, you have certain core values that are enduring. These values vary from one person to another, but ordinarily your “belief” theme causes you to be family-oriented, altruistic, even spiritual, and to value responsibility and high ethics — both in yourself and others… This consistency is the foundation for all your relationships. Your friends call you dependable. “I know where you stand,” they say. Your belief makes you easy to trust. It also demands that you find work that meshes with your values. Your work must be meaningful; it must matter to you. And guided by your “belief” theme, it will matter only if it gives you a chance to live out your values

After reading this description, I concluded that our profession demands every pharmacist to possess a strong belief theme. Popularly conceived as one of the most trusted professionals, pharmacists must be driven by core values of responsibility, high ethics, and altruism. There is meaning behind every decision. Pharmacists must be dependable and easy to trust. Without core values, pharmacists can neither achieve optimal therapeutic outcomes nor provide patients with the best care possible.

Pharmacy is a profession that is constantly evolving. Health care professionals, politicians and lobbyists are always conjuring up new ways to improve the health care system. Pharmacists were not always considered an integral part of the health care team. In the early days of pharmacy, pharmacists served as a bridge between the medical and chemical world. The doctor would diagnose each patient, and apothecaries, through the art of compounding, created remedies to treat each patient’s ailments. However, after experiencing the industrial revolution in the 1950s, pharmacists were no longer needed to create medicine for each patient because of the ability of machines to mass-produce. At this time, pharmacists were able to shift their focus more towards patient care, and become more directly involved in catering to the needs of patients. Although the art of compounding should definitely not be overlooked, this shift in focus was the defining moment of pharmacy. In 1990, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) made the doctor of pharmacy degree (Pharm.D.) the new standard in pharmacy education. The Pharm.D. Program would focus more on the clinical aspects of health care and give students a “hands-on” experience for an additional year. This change led to pharmacists taking on greater responsibilities in health care. Pharmacists began to participate in clinical research and became more extensively involved in patient care. Another pivotal point in the history of the role of pharmacists in health care was established when the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 was passed. The Act, widely known for Medicare Part D, which expanded prescription drug coverage for Medicare beneficiaries, deeply impacted pharmacists’ involvement in health care. The Act allowed pharmacists to be more involved in monitoring and modifying complex drug regimens to improve therapeutic outcomes by providing Medicare beneficiaries with Medication Therapy Management (MTM).

In addition to providing Medication Therapy Management and moral support, providing patient education is a top priority in patient care. Without proper patient education, it is impossible for pharmacists to fulfill their duties to monitor drug therapy and yield optimal therapeutic outcomes because the patient will become non-compliant. When a patient becomes non-compliant, it negatively affects the patient’s health and results in unnecessary costs. With all of the ever-changing responsibilities of a pharmacist, our core values should remain consistent and be the driving force behind providing all patients with the best health care possible.

Published by Rho Chi Post
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