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Debunking the Biggest Misconceptions Around Pharmacy


Pharmacy is an exciting and diverse career. You can often find pharmacists conducting research that will influence future rules and regulations within various healthcare fields, working alongside a team of doctors to directly care for patients, and even educating future generations of pharmacists. Unfortunately, there are a few misconceptions around the field. We’ve spoken with pharmacists to learn what they believe the biggest misconceptions are–and we plan to debunk them!

Here are the top four misconceptions around the field of pharmacy:

Pharmacists only count pills

As Dr. Tom Kalista, Clinical Assistant Professor of Ambulatory Care, said, “The biggest misconception around pharmacy is that all we do is count pills and label the bottles in which they get put. The image of “traditional” retail pharmacy is still around, but that’s not to say that it’s entirely a negative thing. Pharmacy’s reputation has been undoubtedly built on that paradigm, and we would be misguided to dismiss or demean it. Instead, I would elaborate by saying pharmacy has evolved.”

While the well-established value of the pharmacist is still very much intact (if not enhanced), the full range of healthcare services a pharmacist provides has grown substantially. In fact, as the medication expert on the team of doctors, pharmacists provide a role no other healthcare professionals are trained to handle.

Pharmacists are behind-the-scenes

“So many members of the community come to my pharmacy first before going to their physician. Patients trust the pharmacist’s advice,” said pharmacy student Nimit Jindal. Pharmacists provide patient-centered care by considering the relationship between medical conditions, lifestyle, medications, and other variables. In fact, a Gallup Poll measuring public perceptions of professional ethics and honesty found that 68% of participants responded that pharmacists have “very high” professional ethical standards, second only to nurses.

There isn’t job diversity within pharmacy

“I’d like to break the misconception that there is a limited number of jobs a pharmacist can have,” said Dr. Paul Szumita, Clinical Pharmacy Practice Manager in Critical Care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “In the ever-changing field of healthcare, pharmacist have many unique career paths within the healthcare environment.”

Pharmacist attend to traumas, code blues, premature births, and contribute in saving lives. As members of the healthcare team, pharmacists use evidence-based medicine to help team members choose the best drug for their patients. They advocate for their patients’ best interests and take that message to our nation’s legislators. They are involved in research, drug development, and clinical trials for new medications. The possibilities are endless.

Pharmacists aren’t part of the medical team

“As a pharmacist working in the hospital setting, working directly with other members of the medical team, I always wanted to model the value added by a pharmacist as part of a rounding team,” said Dr. Kristen Gawronski, Clinical Pharmacy Specialist. “We are THE medication experts.”

The conclusion?

A degree in pharmacy, known as a PharmD, allows you to pursue a plethora of career pathways where you can operate outside of the more “traditional” community pharmacies. If you’re interested in pharmacy, you won’t be bored. A day’s work as a pharmacist is challenging, however, many report being happy knowing that their actions directly impact those around them.

It’s also important to note that the field is ever-changing. New opportunities are constantly presenting themselves as breakthroughs and advances are made. Pharmacists are known as the medication experts and every day the industry is creating new opportunities and unique routes to providing patients with the best healthcare services possible.

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