IN DEFENSE OF A PHARMACY CRITIC

It is gratifying to see so many great bloggers writing on the Canadian Healthcare Network.  Some of these bloggers are really hard hitting, and address the real issues facing the profession of pharmacy as it struggles to survive rapid change and the loss of control of the profession to non-pharmacist commercial interests.

Many blogs however, are totally out to lunch.  It’s as if some of these people live in a far off fantasy land and are happy to deny all that is going on around them.  Clearly there are a lot of unhappy pharmacists out there, and they are getting less happy as time goes by.  That’s the truth.

Many people are safely ensconced in concrete silos, like Academia, or one of the regulatory bodies, or even worse in one of the many, many pharmacy associations dedicated to some weird and wonderful abstract mission statement that no one understands, cares about, or is subject to measurement.   These are among the many pharmacy “Special Interest Groups” that have their heads deeply buried in the pharmacy trough.

One of the easiest things to do when faced with such challenges is to give in to the forces and let them take you where they may.  This eventually lands most people into states of apathy and resignation…two strong characteristics which describe many pharmacists today.

One of the silliest of these rituals of denial for example is the “White Coat Ceremony” which pharmacy students go through every year.  First of all why white coats?  Many of these coats eventually become nothing more than billboards for the Big Pharmacy Retailers.  Are you a pharmacist?  Or are you a Healthwatch Pharmacist?  Or worse still are you a “No Frills Pharmacist” or a “Drug Basics Pharmacist” etc.

I am often criticized for being negative, or always critical of the profession while doing nothing positive or constructive to get the ship turned around.  “Roll up your sleeves and get involved”, is the clarion call.  “It’s easy to criticize from the sidelines when you don’t play the game” is another admonishment.  Normally right on the mark.

But I would submit that when the realities which are facing pharmacists, and the profession in general today, are faced squarely and admitted to, this becomes the first step towards some kind of solution not denial and carrying on.

Continual denial, and abstract ceremonial rituals like white coat ceremonies, and the plethora of conferences, and the accompanying “fun nights” and awards banquets for every conceivable abstract distinction conjured up by the imagination, ain’t going to cut it.

Recognize that there is a problem.  Face it squarely in the face.  Then, with an assertive attitude, begin the process of changing your life and shaping your future to a new place…within pharmacy, or without it.

This is the role of the critic…to constantly remind those affected and involved in the game not to be bamboozled by the great forces; those more than ready to subjugate the profession to their own special interests.  This bears repeating over and over again.

This begins in the first year of pharmacy school and Academia has a great responsibility to ensure that students know what they are getting into, and what kind of future they will face if they allow themselves to be swept up by the false hopes and ‘sell jobs’ of the power brokers.  Their spirits will be broken within six months of graduation.

What pharmacy needs is more critics, not more MC’s of white coat ceremonies.