The holidays are over and we’ve just embarked on another 67,000 mph orbit around the Sun, which means it’s time for MSHP get back to work! Throughout 2017, the amazing volunteers of MSHP had the opportunity to collaborate with the Missouri Legislature and the Board of Pharmacy to review our existing pharmacy rules and statutes. An underlying goal of this process has been to reduce unnecessary regulation and, more importantly, to enhance patient care through the advancement of pharmacy practice. This has been an exciting process thus far and I’m confident that in 2018 we’ll make great strides in expanding the role of pharmacists.
This process of reviewing our rules and regulations left me wondering about what the profession looked like 100 years ago? What challenges were our pharmacy forebearers facing and what were they saying about those challenges? By a stroke of luck, I came across this enlightening article from an issue of the Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association published in 1918. It’s kind of funny because were it not for some subtle linguistic differences, you could almost be fooled into thinking it was published last week:
“Pharmacy must revise its ideals and define anew and in broader terms its scope and purposes. The mortar and pestle are not adequate insignia for twentieth-century pharmacy. They serve modern life too poorly, touch it at too few angles, and have become of secondary rather than primary importance.
This point of view need not shock even the most conservative among us. We have but to look at our sister profession of medicine to find that time and time again it has emerged from out of the hard shell of its former practices and into a newer and better one, repeatedly has it redefined its scope and broadened its usefulness. And yet it has not changed its name. The physician is no physicist and yet he has insisted upon mastering the technique of the x-ray machine. He claims to be no electrician and yet he will tell you much about the electrocardiogram. He is no engineer and yet he raises his voice on questions of sanitary problems. These things could by no possible stretch of the imagination have entered into a definition of the practice of medicine half a century ago.
May it not be that what we need more than anything else is to infuse and rejuvenate the profession which we all think so much of, for to one who has been behind the counter for years there is a real charm in pharmacy that only he knows, may it not be that what we need is to include in the definition of pharmacy something besides that which we have heretofore always included? Can we not fill the older now empty or nearly empty spaces with something besides commercial sidelines?
It can be shown with reasonable certainty that pharmacy and medicine are essentially complementary professions and that in the large their business is to solve the problems of health and disease. Anything included under these problems may, therefore, belong legitimately to pharmacy or medicine. Why should we only sell tablets and make tinctures and leave all the rest to medicine is not at all clear. The physician needs our aid along far more important lines and so does the public. Is there any logical reason, then, why we should continue as we do?”
-C. Ferdinand Nelson
Although the profession has changed significantly over the last 100 years (for example, in 1918 a pharmacy degree from a school of pharmacy wasn’t required to become a pharmacist), several challenges remain the same, especially within clinical pharmacy. Even though the positive impact of clinical pharmacists have been proven time and time again, it often feels as though we’re stuck in a Groundhog Day scenario as we’re repeatedly forced to explain our value to others, whether that be the government, public, and even to a degree other health care professionals and hospital executives. But we’re making inroads. The national conversation regarding provider status has accelerated in recent years and a growing number of legislators are being made aware of the myriad ways that pharmacists can positively impact patient care. Let’s keep this momentum going! Write letters to Representatives, send emails to Senators, and never shy away from telling others the role you play in patient care. Even better, consider joining an MSHP committee and work with us to propose changes to our pharmacy practice act. Let’s work together to move our profession forward this year! We need to do our part to ensure that someone in the year 2118 reading about what practice was like in 2018 will say, “I can’t imagine what it would be like not be able to prescribe, order labs, or even be considered a provider, we’ve come a long way in 100 years!” Let’s make 2018 the year that we take a giant leap forward. Also, hover boots. Let’s also make 2018 the year of hover boots.
Jeremy P. Hampton, PharmD, BCPS