October is American Pharmacist Month. Every October comes and goes, and typically I’ve never celebrated this fact when it comes to Pharmacy. I always liked Halloween parties, but never discussed Pharmacy much outside of the Pharmacy. Only in the past few years have I thought about purchasing food for my staff and/or honoring a fellow Pharmacist with kind words and acknowledgement about our shared calling and responsibilities to the communities that we serve through the practice of pharmacy. I remember discussing Pharmacist Month in school vaguely, but it never really was on my radar.
A few weeks ago, I thought — wouldn’t it be cool if I could interview some pharmacists that I respect and do a brief profile of their careers to celebrate their accomplishments and acknowledge openly my appreciation to what they’ve given to the profession. Simply stated..how can we as a profession move our profession forward if we never discuss our admiration for each other, and/or discuss openly how to create a more open dialogue about how to create a fair market for both consumers and the practicing pharmacist.
Over the next month, I hope to profile up to 8 Pharmacists. Each profile will consist of an interview and picture of the Pharmacist in their practice setting. I hope you as the reader gain an appreciation for the art and science of pharmacy and the people who encompass our profession.
Our first Profile in Pharmacy is of Brad Schmidt, PharmD
Brad graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2001 with his Doctor of Pharmacy. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from Gustavus Adolphus College in 1995. He is the Staff Pharmacist for Peds Rx Pharmacy Solutions and has been my work partner at the Pharmacy since we opened in September 2013.
Sam: How did you come about pharmacy?
Brad: I grew up in a small town — thought about becoming a physician — then got more interested in chemistry when I went off to college — I ended up talking to my local pharmacist in town and got more into the profession from there.
Sam: Can you please describe your career path and what you’ve done during your career and please don’t be modest.
Brad: I got out of pharmacy school — I floated in a retail chain for a while — but, I really didn’t find that rewarding or something I enjoyed (CVS Pharmacy 1 year). So, once an opportunity to work at a pediatric outpatient pharmacy came about I took it (Children’s of Alabama 7 years). Some years went by when I wanted to try something different, so I found a job as a Clinical Pharmacist at UAB (1 year). Then I left that position and took a job doing mail order (CVS 2 years). Mail order was a nice hourly job that was family conducive, but then the facility closed down. Then I moved onto working in Home Infusion (Walgreen Home Infusion 2 years). Then in 2013 we met, and I’ve been at Peds Rx for the past 5 years (Pediatric Outpatient Pharmacy for Children’s of Alabama). So all in all, I have 12 years of pediatric outpatient pharmacy experience. I do like different things, I like changes, and I never wanted to do the same thing for 30 years — so I’ve always believed that you never know your true passion until you try something. Thus, I’ve tried different things over the years.
Sam: What does your family think you do at work
Brad: Well my wife, she’s a pharmacist, so she understands what I do. In regards to the dispensing role, she understands that we are a resource for information for the hospital, and help patients get their medications situated for discharge from the hospital, do prior authorizations and overrides, and overall increase access for patients to receive appropriate pharmaceutical care… so that’s my wife…
But Everyone else in my family thinks I just count drugs and make kids feel better.
Sam: How do you see the future of pharmacy practice in the next 20 years
Brad: I see pharmacists as being dispensers being phased out — and more medication therapy management reviews like whats being done with Medicare Part D.. I see the role of technology increasing — remote dispensing will continue to push forward — more centralization of pharmacy with Amazon and Big Chains. Less corner store drug stores — less chain stores and more automation with central pharmacies. Independents will continue to fill the void with a niche market.
Sam: Is being a Pharmacist what you thought it would be
Brad: I would probably say umm… I would say starting off yes, but after practicing for 18 years — things have changed — there’s less focus on the patients and things have become more number driven. The scope of practice ( clinical positions) isn’t what I expected. Which is good. Residencies were just starting when I was graduating but now most of the graduates look into residencies now. The thing that surprised me is that it’s become less patient focused with the financial pressures due to the market constraints that has created a barrier for entry to the little guy. Which we as pharmacists have to fight for. In school we talk about pharmaceutical care and patient wellness — and in the real world it’s more like fill 500 scripts and just get the work done..
Sam: What do you think of October being American Pharmacists Month?
Brad: Unfortunately I think that most times — maybe only a 1/4 to 1/3 of the places I’ve worked at even celebrated Pharmacists month — most of management, patients, and even the parents didn’t know about Pharmacists Month. And even within the profession there’s not a lot of recognition. Only 25 to 30 percent of the time have I received a thank you or been given recognition for Pharmacists Month.
Overall I’m glad it’s there, but in reality it’s not as recognized as some of the other professions. We’re not a very organized profession — we’re divided in some ways and because of this there’s division in how we celebrate the month. The nursing association and medical associations bring about the importance of their professions — but when was the last time our association did something to recognize the profession through something like a commercial. The month comes and goes and we go to work and go home. But hopefully as the years go forward we will become more organized and united for the month of October.
Sam: What would you tell a new grad?
Brad: Since they already graduate then it’s too late 😉 laughter…
There’s a lot of opportunities out there — the PharmD degree has many opportunities and there’s a lot of diversity within the profession — thus there’s alot of things to be involved in and ways with which you can be challenged. I tell new grads to always take your time in the final check and always go with your gut instincts and don’t get distracted during that final verification step. Pharmacy is a small world so don’t ever burn bridges. Even if you don’t like someone part peacefully. Don’t burn bridges — pharmacy is a small world.
Sam: How must pharmacy school change to keep up with the changes taking place in the workplace and the business market?
Brad: They are definitely focusing on residency and clinical opportunities — unfortunately they have gotten away from the traditional roles which has caused a bit of a learning deficit. They’re beginning to lack some of the basic skills of pharmacy practice, like understanding dosage forms, etc.. Which causes the newly practicing pharmacist to not immediately understand how to dispense or compound.
In terms of the business side — the schools hurt the profession a bit. From 2001-2005 they added pharmacy schools and in 2009 during the recession the job market became tighter. Thus, from a business standpoint the market has become slightly over saturated with pharmacists.
Sam: Is there anything you would like to add?
Brad: Only thing I would like to add, is that I’m proud to be a Pharmacist, I’m proud to have made relationships with Patients and staff — but as far as moving forward we need to be more united as a profession and have organization and be united. The times have changed — and we must be united. If we don’t carve out our niche in the new world we could be wiped out as a profession. We need to come together so that we’re not eaten up..