Sunday, July 8, 2007

Ode to the PharmD...

PharmD... recently graduated pharmacists use this title with so much pride. "I know what I'm talking about. I must. I'm a doctor!!!" Just the other day, I overheard our former pharmacy intern (now a licensed pharmacist) ask whether one particular pharmacist was a PharmD or "just an RPh."

Something about the title "doctor" makes one feel all warm inside. I often wonder whether they'd use it with such pride if that Doctor of Pharmacy degree was instead a Master of Pharmacy degree. Think about it, no one goes around calling themselves a Master, but give someone a doctorate, and they'll make sure to stamp "Dr." in front of their name any chance they get.

When it comes down to it, the Doctor of Pharmacy was a completely arbitrary choice. It could have just as easily been a Masters degree. It's not like the work requirement was so great that they had to call anyone who completed it a doctor. In fact, I would venture to say that in moving from the 5-year BS in Pharmacy to the 6-year PharmD program, most universities didn't add content to their curriculum. Instead, they just stretched the existing content over another year, and added a few extra clinical rotations at the end. If anyone really thinks that my schooling better prepared me to be a pharmacist than the schooling of someone that graduated with a BS in pharmacy, then they are completely delusional.

We all know the real reason the doctor of pharmacy was devised. It had nothing to do with pumping out more qualified pharmacists. It was all about the "appearance" of being more qualified. For years, pharmacists have been trying to be recognized as valuable members of the healthcare team. However, pharmacists have never gotten the respect they deserve. Their suggestions are usually ignored or ridiculed by doctors. Nurses in skilled nursing facilities see pharmacists as a nuisance that do nothing but make sure laws are followed (such as med carts being locked any time they're left unattended). The public views the pharmacist as somone who counts pills all day instead of someone with vast medication knowledge.

To illustrate my point... I remember telling a friend of mine that I had decided to go to pharmacy school. He looked at me, laughed, and said (and I quote), "Pharmacy? No one goes to school planning to be a pharmacist." I proceeded to tell him that pharmacy school is 6 years, and when I get out, I'll make $100,000 as a starting salary. He wasn't laughing after that.

Therefore, if the PharmD somehow enables pharmacists to get a little more respect, than I'm all for it. We all know there a million studies that show that pharmacists not only positively effect the health outcomes of patients, but they also save the health system money. My only problem with the PharmD are the new pharmacists who wave around that title as if all non-PharmD pharmacists should be kneeling down to kiss their asses. I have a problem with pharmacists who think they're better than their coworkers because they're a "doctor."

Anyone who's been around a pharmacy long enough has some story of a pharmacist who went back to get their PharmD and now wants everyone to refer to him as "Doctor." This same asshat will no longer help at the register, nor will he take the garbage to the store compactor because those menial tasks are below him. I always feel the need to remind these self-important fucks that there incredible doctorate degree is the fucking ENTRY LEVEL PHARMACY DEGREE!!!! New graduates cannot sit for the NAPLEX without a PharmD.

Christ... I've only been licensed for a year. I should be beaming with pride that I can put PharmD at the end of my name. Know why I'm not???? Because I have some common sense! I don't pretend to have anything over a pharmacist who's been in the profession longer than I have. In pharmacy as in everything else in life, it doesn't matter how much someone teaches you, you don't truly learn it until you're out there practicing it. They can make pharmacy school 20 years. If I'm an employer, I'll still hire the BS in pharmacy with 10 years of on-the-job experience over the newly graduated Doctor of Pharmacy any day of the week.

In conclusion, all of you newly graduated, newly licensed pharmacists out there, just remember one thing... you're not God's gift to pharmacy and healthcare in general. If you want to use your fancy-pants title to advance our profession, then fine. Just don't use that same title to put down your fellow pharmacists because chances are if you're the kind of person that needs to be called "doctor" to feel special, you're the type of pharmacist that doesn't know his ass from his elbow and will end up making us all look stupid.


Anonymous said...

Don't forget that the PharmD program is also a money making deal (at least at my school)because now the classes are considered grad level and you're charged twice as much as you would be to get your BS degree!

Anonymous said...

Pharmacy Mike...

You say you "don't pretend to have anything over a pharmacist who's been in the profession longer than I have"... but (when you wrote this) you weren't even in the profession that long. You will highly criticize those pharmacists which only obtained their license one year after you? You sound like a hypocrite. Did you not have any friends when you were in college? It sure is a shame that when you wrote this blog you were a bitter pharmacist who had only had their license for a year.

Let me ask... did you change your profession yet? It seems like you should.

Shawn Vuong said...

Yeah I realize this is a pretty old post. But I was following links and got tracked back to this. I think its funny how history is repeating itself in the physical therapy world. My school just recently changed from awarding a Masters in PT to a doctorates. Now all the graduating PTs call themselves doctor until their heads fall off. Do they really think they are better than the PTs who have their masters and have the years of experience under their belt?