Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Robot Pharmacists?

Many pharmacy students or prospective pharmacy students wonder if automation or robots will replace pharmacists. This may be a concern for those who wonder if there will be enough jobs available by the time they graduate from pharmacy colleges. It’s a valid question to ask for anyone who is pursuing a career, whether it would be for nurses, security personnel, delivery workers, or even taxi drivers. In this age of highly developed technology and innovation, it is something job-seekers could probably think about and perhaps even do some more research as we see automation everyday in our daily lives around us. Technology seems to be improving each year with more efficiency, accuracy, and less technical problems. The grocery store checkout lines with more automated self-check-out areas replacing cashiers. ATMs readily available 24/7 replacing bank tellers. Amazon experimenting with drone delivery, and even some innovative companies making headlines with testing driverless vehicles. Not only do we see automation replacing workers, but we are also witnessing other types of technology replacing the traditional model of business. Plug-and-play wireless technologies implemented in the areas of home security camera installations as opposed to using traditional home security installers. Streaming wireless television replacing traditional cable television. Online shopping such as Amazon or travel websites replacing the brick-and-mortar retailers and the travel agent, respectively. Now with these great advances in practically every sector of society, how will this impact the pharmacist profession?

One way to look at this is how current pharmacy businesses and services operate today, and to identify solutions to current problems, or ways to improve the current model even if there are no issues. Some of the goals of technology are to cut down on costs, time, and inefficiencies, and provide transparent and meaningful data to allow the users and operators to detect errors or trends in order to improve a “system.” We can apply this to the pharmacy service model in retail and hospital, and suggest possible solutions, and its potential ramifications to the pharmacy workforce if such solutions are implemented. Here are a few common problems or areas that could be improved in the retail and hospital pharmacy setting:


Long Lines/Waiting: Prescription dispensing machines, similar to bank ATMs, could potentially reduce the need for a 24/7 pharmacy drive-thru or checkout counter. Mail-order, already available from many pharmacies, may also increase in wide-spread use which would limit the need for brick-and-mortar pharmacy retailers. Similar to Amazon, a customer may simply login to their account, and set up active prescriptions to be refilled and mailed on a scheduled monthly basis.

Limited Staffing: Widespread use of integrated and compatible prescription transmission from the doctor’s offices directly to the pharmacy software could reduce the need for the patient/customer to go to the pharmacy in-person, and cut-down on pharmacy personnel needed to receive the written prescription from the customer. Robotic counters, packagers, and fillers could replace the need for human pharmacists or technicians to manually fill routine or daily refilled medications for customers to pickup from the pharmacy. Mail-order pharmacies (as discussed above) may resolve the need for some staffing.


Missing Medications: Utilization of advanced automated dispensing cabinets or machines housed in hospital units for common medications could reduce the need to deliver medications, and the time required to find missing medications or replace medications that are not found after delivery. This is a potential area needed of improvement, for which a solution may not necessarily reduce the pharmacy workforce or affect it at all.

Delayed Medication Delivery: As noted above, usage of automated dispensing cabinets or machines in hospital units may reduce the need to deliver medications, thus reducing the need for transporters to deliver medications from the pharmacy to the hospital units. However, pharmacy personnel would still be required to continually refill the automated dispensing cabinets if dispensing is highly utilized within the hospital unit.

Limited Staffing: Advanced software systems could automatically review medication appropriateness before final pharmacist sign-off. Robotic counters and fillers could replace the need for human pharmacists or technicians to manually fill routine or daily refilled medications for patients.

Cart filling medications: Robotic counters and fillers could replace the need for human pharmacists or technicians to manually fill routine or daily refilled medications for patients.

It may come as no surprise, and maybe even expected that there will probably be some usage of automation in the pharmacy practice setting in the future. Advances in technology allow companies or owners to save money, while also potentially improving patient/consumer safety; this may be due to reduced medication errors from the use of intelligent medication information systems and faster delivery times. Similar to automation in grocery store checkout lines and bank ATMs, or even customer service agents assisting with online services, we could witness a hybrid model of human/machine model where a few workers (e.g. pharmacists/technicians) would oversee and manage a mass of automated machines and/or software systems; this could have some impact on the workforce. However, this may not always be the case as improvements in information technology such as intelligent medication information systems which provides essential medication resources (drug to drug interactions, potential adverse events, allergic reactions, etc.) allows pharmacists to save time by avoiding timely research in manually trying to find important and relevant information. Integrated pharmacy software such as computerized pharmacy order entry (CPOE) software also allows pharmacists to avoid serious transcription errors, save time, and allows the pharmacist to focus more thoroughly on reviewing medication orders. On the flip-side, automation may not always have a serious impact on the workforce as it could also present more opportunities for pharmacists to expand on clinical duties, thus improving the safety and wellness of patients. Higher usage of automated and robotic systems may present new opportunities to other sectors such as engineers and technical support specialists who may be needed to develop and maintain such technologies.

How to Use PharmD Program’s Unique Directory

As some may already know, our website not only takes contributions from real-life pharmacists and their perspectives, opinions, advice about working as a pharmacist, it also includes a unique pharmacy school directory unlike those offered from other educational websites.  The directory lists available pharmacy school and PharmD programs, along with scores on how easy your walk or commute will be to commercial or landmark locations.  The higher the score, the more walkable it is to the closest stores, restaurants, coffee shops, etc.  This directory may serve as an important tool when deciding how well you will adjust to the school’s location based on its convenience to areas where you could hang out, shop, tour, or just have fun.

Let’s take a closer look at how to use this website more effectively.  First, click on the “Pharmacy Schools” link at the top of the webpage:



Next, search for a school that you may be interested in.  Here, we will look at a school located in a pretty cool city:  Chicago.




Next, click on the link to the school to arrive at the program’s page:









You will notice three separate scores for (1) Walking, (2) Public Transportation, and (3) Biking.  Again, the higher the scores, the easy it may be to walk , to find public transportation, and to bike to notable landmarks or merchants.  These scores may serve you well if you will not be having a car, or if you do not live near the school.  Evidently, the higher the scores, the less likely you will need to worry about getting around town, or finding your own transportation.  If you click on any of the scores, a new webpage will open up in your browser with a map of the school, and more details regarding the relative times using different transportation methods:









Clicking the map, will open up the map with a flagged list of area merchants such as coffee shops, restaurants, bars, grocery stores, parks, and many other places.  Needless to say, most may prefer to attend a dream school that offers nearby places of interest where a drive or a walk to buy groceries, or grab a cup of coffee would not expected to be very difficult.





When clicking on a specific category, the navigation window on the left will change to a list of businesses or landmarks within the category:





These scores on the website should obviously be used with some caution, and only for information purposes only.  You should not base your decision on these scores, and it would be recommended to apply to the school that you desire based on what the school can offer you, whether you can get in and afford it, and whether it would be a good match for you.   The scores offer information about ease of walkability, or how convenient it would be to walk to the nearest merchant.  However, it does not provide any indications on the favorability or satisfaction the location may bring to anyone.  Some areas with high walking or transportation scores could also resemble congested, urban areas with lots of pollution and noise, and higher cost of living.  On the flip-side, schools with lower walking and transit scores may offer an area that is peaceful, quiet, and less-congested.  Take for example the University of Hawaii at Hilo College of Pharmacy which currently has a relatively lower score.










However, the school is in Hawaii!  How would you not want to live there if you desire paradise, warm weather, water sports, and the beach?  To each their own, as some people prefer being around crowds, and others may enjoy living in a place that offers a serene and quiet environment.  Therefore, enjoy using the scores for researching information about the location of your schools…or for your own amusement.

What you can do after getting a PharmD

So you finally earned your Doctor of Pharmacy degree after sitting through 3-4 years of mind-numbing lectures on cytochrome p450 enzymes, vancomycin dosing nomograms, and reading through hundreds of adverse effects, contraindications, dosage/administration, and mechanism of action information about drugs.  You also secured a hefty loan from a lender where now the interest on the loan will start adding to the principle.  First of all, congratulations on finishing pharmacy school and getting your degree.  It is no small feat, and the patience, discipline, hard work, and fortitude required to achieve a PharmD will have prepared you to become a professional working contributor to society, which will help facilitate and advance your career.

So now what?  If you haven’t already begun (perhaps six months prior to graduation in seeking a job or a post-graduate position (residency, fellowship, etc) then you should probably begin searching for a job.  Apply to jobs within a state in which you plan living in, and obtain the necessary requirements by referring to the State Board of Pharmacy for each state, which will guide you on what you need to start practicing as a pharmacist.  Usually, this will require a state exam (MPJE for most), and the national pharmacy licensure exam (NAPLEX).  Apply to as many jobs as you are able to, and begin studying for your tests so that you’ll be eligible to start working if you are fortunate enough to be accepted for a position.  Many employers would want to know that you have the required eligibility and license to practice as a pharmacist before they would even consider granting an interview.  Post-graduate programs such as residencies and fellowships may not require this since interviews with those programs may begin long before graduation.

Ok, so now you have earned your state pharmacy license(s) to practice, and you have hopefully found a job.  You’ve made it!  You can now start to apply for health insurance benefits, contribute to your retirement plan, pay off those high interest college loans, help out your family,  and maybe consider replacing that broken-down car of yours.  You may finally get to go out with your friends and eat something nice for once rather than looking for the cheapest item on the menu, or sticking with the cup-o-noodles and peanut butter sandwiches that you feasted on through college.  Hopefully, your bank account statements will look nicer each month as long as you save some of your income, and if you don’t spend more than you earn.  Now what? You’ll notice after a couple years of working as a pharmacist that it’s pretty much the same old same old everyday whether you work in the retail or hospital setting.  As a retail pharmacist, you’ll come to work with dozens of refills to process, and insurance companies to call when the claims are rejected.  You’ll constantly talk to angry customers waiting to pick up prescriptions that are not ready for them, or even misfiled.  You’ll have pharmacy technicians not report to work on time, or call-in sick which will almost certainly lead to a very stressful morning.  You’ll deal with slippery situations when you feel a prescription is forged, or if customers are being prescribed too much narcotics for their pain, but yet are  yelling at you because they want their pain medications immediately while you ponder what to do.  As for hospital pharmacists, you’ll deal constantly with nurses on the phone calling you for missing medications which was supposed to be sent hours ago, and which you may have already sent twice but somehow kept getting lost.  You’ll deal with your coworkers calling in sick requiring you to do another double shift.  These are some examples of situations that await you after pharmacy school.  Generally, the pay appears to be very good at first.  However, you’ll notice the salaries plateauing and not increasing as they may do for other occupations.  Even after many years, you may not earn much more than when you first started your position after graduation.  As your life progresses and you get older, you’ll probably be getting married at some point, have kids, and buy a new home.  You’ll wonder if you’re able to earn more income, and if there other ways to better your position, of if doing the same old same old stagnant job every day is it for you until you retire.  Of course, this applies to pharmacists who are unsatisfied and want more out of their careers.  There are many pharmacists who are okay with the same old same old status quo until they retire, and may not care to do anything else.

There are some options you have that may put you in a better position to excel or move up the ladder.  Opportunities for leadership positions such as a manager or director of the pharmacy, or a different type of industry altogether such as pursuing a career in consulting ,or an atypical pharmacist position are some options for you.  Applying for these positions may require either experience or degrees and certifications, or both.  If moving up the ladder to management positions, a masters in business administration (MBA) or a masters in public health (MPH) may be a good start, or something to put on your resume.  There are many pharmacy schools that offer a dual degree program combined with a PharmD, but since you’ve already graduated, perhaps you could check your benefits department to see if they would subsidize part of your tuition if you decide to obtain another degree.  If you’re interested in pursuing the clinical route, asking your management whether board of pharmacy specialty certifications will earn them more income, or whether the exams and certification fees can be reimbursed by the employer may be appropriate considering the costs required to obtain the certification.  Networking with other similar health professionals by joining an organization, attending or participating in meetings and events (continuing education) is another great way to learn about other opportunities that you would otherwise not know of when using only the internet or job sites.  Networking can be the most formidable tool you have if you are able to establish relationships easily.   Attending classes or joining clubs which focus on helping you network may be beneficial for you such as courses that educate people how to perform presentations (e.g. toastmasters).

These are only some of the options that are available for those that feel stagnant in their careers.  Keep in mind that pursuing another graduate degree, or a board specialty certification could be costly, and may take your time away from your family or social life.  Work/life balance is something that has to be assessed by each pharmacist depending on their life situation and age.

Famous Pharmacists in History

Famous Pharmacists in History

If you’re considering a career in the field of pharmacy, you may be interested to know that the job does not always involve counting pills and printing labels for customers. As many people who have chosen this career path would confirm1, this important vocation offers countless opportunities to positively impact the lives of others. In fact, a pharmacist acts as a crucial link between patients and their health care providers. 

In addition to being an intensely gratifying line of work, the pharmacy profession has also produced a wealth of fascinating individuals. These famous pharmacists have accomplished some truly notable deeds. In some cases, their achievements were related to their original vocation of choice – while in other instances, they were not. The following are a few examples of famous pharmacists in history.

Hubert H. Humphrey

Hubert H. Humphrey’s accomplishments have been well-documented – and for good reason. The American Pharmacists Association even extends an award2 in the man’s name. This former pharmacist who went on to enjoy a highly successful career in politics – first, as a U.S Senator for the State of Minnesota, and then, as Vice President of the United States under Lyndon B. Johnson from 1965 to 1969. Humphrey followed his father into the pharmacy profession, and he worked as a pharmacist in the drugstore that his father owned in South Dakota. Some of the most notable accomplishments of his political career included chairing the advisory council for the Peace Corps, chairing the Civil Rights Council, organizing an antipoverty program, and working with Congress to enact Medicare and the Voting Rights Act3 .

Charles Alderton

After attending college in England, Brooklyn-born Charles Alderton obtained his training in medicine at the University of Texas. He then worked as a pharmacist in a drug store in Waco, Texas4. The drug store in which he worked also had a soda fountain, which was the place that Alderton observed customers growing bored with the traditional soda flavors of the time period (the late 1800s). That observation inspired the pharmacist to create a carbonated drink with a flavor that smelled similar to all of the various fruit syrups used in the store to make sodas. The result was a beverage that remains highly popular to this day – which is known as Dr Pepper (the original period after the “Dr.” in the drink’s name was eventually omitted)5.

Agatha Christie

When you consider her history as an apothecary’s assistant, it is no small wonder that Agatha Christie experienced great success as an author whose crime novels sometimes included poison as a means of murder. To say that Christie was successful is actually an understatement; after her work as a volunteer nurse during the First World War and then in the pharmacy field6, she became known as one of the top-selling authors in the world7.  


Benjamin Green

After he served as an airman in the Second World War, pharmacist Benjamin Green began experimenting with various substances in order to create an effective sunscreen. He initially applied a type of veterinary petroleum to his skin to protect himself from harmful UV rays during wartime. Later, he added other substances to develop what would ultimately become the basis for the suntan product manufactured by Coppertone8.

Luke Howard

Londoner Luke Howard was a pharmacist who became famous for his meteorological work in the 1800s. After establishing a pharmacy of his own in Fleet Street, he partnered with scientist William Allen to start a pharmaceutical firm. Howard later became known for creating some of the cloud names9 that are still in use to this day. Howard has since been referred to as the “Father of Meteorology”10.

A career in the pharmacy field may be one of the most personally gratifying career choices you could make. Helping consumers to get the medications they need is an invaluable service. If you follow the lead of some of the most famous pharmacists in history, you may even find yourself using your knowledge to benefit the world in ways that you never imagined.    

Henri Nestle

Most people are familiar with the chocolate brand, Nestle.  What they might not know is it began with Henri Nestle, a pharmacists’ assistant, before becoming the world recognized brand that people love and admire.


1. Pharmacy Times, “Why I Love Being a Pharmacist: Honorable Mentions” <> (accessed August 15, 2016)

2. American Pharmacists Association, “Hubert H. Humphrey Award” <> (accessed August 15, 2016)

3. Encyclopædia Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, “Hubert Humphrey, Vice president of United States” <> (accessed August 15, 2016)

4. NNDB, “Charles Alderton”, <> (accessed August 15, 2016)

5. Dr Pepper Museum, “History of Dr Pepper” <–Pepper.aspx> (accessed August 15, 2016)

6. Science Friday, Kathryn Harkup, “Agatha Christie: From Pharmacist’s Apprentice to Poison Expert, An excerpt from “A Is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie.” <> (accessed August 15, 2016)

7. Bio, “Agatha Christie Biography”, <> (accessed August 15, 2016)

8. The New York Times, “Sunscreen: A History” <> (accessed August 15, 2016)

9. Royal Meteorological Society, “Luke Howard and Cloud Names” <> (accessed August 15, 2016)

10. Royal Meteorological Society, “The Invention of Clouds: Luke Howard, The Father of Meteorology”<> (accessed August 15, 2016)

First Year Jitters

Summer break is coming to an end, and for most PharmD students who are about to enter pharmacy school for the first time, much anticipation and preparation are about to begin. For most, unless the school provides an accelerated program, students have maybe a few weeks before they begin a new adventure in their lives, something they are unlikely to forget for the rest of their lives. For the next three or four years, the training, education, and experience one receives may the biggest influence in their future pharmacy careers, and the this experience may produce lasting friendships, and even marriages! Although the first day or week of school could give the sense of anxiety or jitters, it may be the beginning of a new and fun adventure, albeit hard work.

It is common to feel uneasy and anxious on the first day of school. Most people may not know anyone in their class, except for some who have applied and enrolled together. This goes even more so more out of state or out of the country students who know absolutely no one and can be frightening. For those that fit this criteria, do not fret! This is completely normal as it is when a young student attends a new school for the first time after moving to a new city or foreign place. The bright side is, most people are older and professional. There probably is no school lunch cafeteria, the same you would see in a high school. There is most likely ‘a’ cafeteria for graduate students but this is not the same. It is okay to eat by yourself as you are a grown-up now and who cares? Although making an effort to eat with others is recommended as this may enhance your joy and comfort in the new setting.

The first day of pharmacy school is usually filled with orientation materials, photos, introductions from pharmacy school leadership as well as administration, ice-breaker activities, free lunches, receptions, presentations from various organizations, etc. Enjoy this time and try to meet others. Most people feel the same way as you and are afraid to introduce themselves. Try to take this opportunity to be brave, and introduce yourself to others as most would be willing to have someone come over and talk to them. The person you meet may be your new best friend, study partner, spring vacation buddy, future job referral, or even your future spouse! Be kind and courteous to everyone and try not to talk negatively about others, especially behind their back!

Yes, on the first day you may observe a lot of people are on their ‘A’ game and may display type ‘A’ characteristics. They have to appear intelligent, ambitious, driven, and serious. That is fine, and it is important to act professionally. But remember to relax, as this is a three or four year commitment. In the first day, week, or even month you may observe uneasy classmates who ‘size’ up others and are difficult to work with. That is fine as some people take time to get used to; but after months and years of tough exams and long study hours, they may lighten up to the fact that it is a long road ahead and it is in their best interest to get along with others. In actuality, pharmacy school goes by quicker than most think. After graduation, you will be off to your post-pharmacy careers and that is when life comes at you really fast. The friends and teachers you meet will not be available to assist you, and for some you may never see again for a long time. Therefore, relax and enjoy this time while working hard in school. Take every opportunity to meet others and attend meetings and receptions. A PharmD degree may be the goal of every student, but meeting and networking with others should be a secondary goal. How well your experience will be for the next few years is in your hands, and you have the power to make it exciting and new.