To those that have been accepted to pharmacy schools…congratulations! This is a major accomplishment and you should be very proud of your accomplishment. Pat yourselves on the back as this may be the beginning of a long and fruitful career. It is a great moment to treasure after weeks or even months of anticipation for the letter from the pharmacy schools to arrive in your mailbox. The heart beating, and the seconds becoming minutes as you may hesitate and ponder a bit before opening and revealing the contents of a letter that may decide the direction in life you may take. It is a watershed moment.
For those that are or were fortunate enough to receive an acceptance letter – again congratulations. It is no small feat to get into a PharmD program. During these times, people are acknowledging the interesting career and considerable compensation that may come with a job as a pharmacist. The competition to get into the program is great, and the job market, especially with the current tough economic climate, may also pose a challenge. Nevertheless, one has to properly prepare for the next step in their lives if they choose to move forward with matriculating into the pharmacy program. Pharmacy school is no lightweight task for most students. It could require hours of lectures on medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, pharmacotherapy, pharmacy law, pharmacy practice, pharmacokinetics, etc. It also requires many hours of practical work to be familiar and comfortable with the numerous laws that abound at the federal level and variations of pharmacy laws specific to each state, the many drugs that are dispensed, the specific peculiarities for each drug, compounding methods, dealing with constant national shortages, insurance issues (maybe more to come with new healthcare laws), etc.
With new healthcare laws in this country, more and more people are expected to seek medical attention for preventive measures or to treat their problems earlier. This could equate to more treatment options being delivered to patients, with medications being one major type of treatment option. More patients could arrive at the community pharmacy setting with varying insurance plans that have different reimbursements, copays, and deductibles. This could be a big opportunity for pharmacists to handle the complexities in the prescription insurance world in addition to having more opportunities to counsel more patients with the pipeline of medications that are available for treatment. For those that have limited insurance coverage such as higher deductibles, pharmacists could assist customers/patients with their knowledge of available manufacturer assistance plans, federal/state programs, or other prescription discounts through membership organizations if available. Pharmacists in hospitals are able to advise hospital staff of the ongoing shortages in medications, and alternatives to use during the shortages. In California, due to the diversity present in the population, patients could request translators at any time at the pharmacy about their prescription.
The life of a pharmacist can be busy. The astute pharmacist will have to be knowledgeable with the many laws that exist and could change, the constant shortages, the new medications being approved from the pipeline, and many insurance plans and prescription assistance programs that are and will be present . Yes, all of the above while continuing to perform the classic pharmacist responsibilities such as reviewing prescription orders, counseling patients, keeping accurate records and inventories, interacting with other physicians/healthcare professionals, keeping compliance to current laws, and ensuring safety to the public through prescription review, preparation, and proper dispensing. The workload may be large, but the need is great in order to serve the community as the population is growing older and living longer, and new laws are formed in a changing demographic.