While this slide presentation (at the foot of this text) leads into the history of US pharmacy, we all share a common heritage up to 1788, the birth year of European settlement in Australia.
As part of understanding the culture of pharmacy, everyone needs to know their origins to be able to centre their own experiences and understanding.
Australian pharmacy lacks an expression of culture. The stories are there but they are not published in a regular or accessible format.
2015 finds Australian pharmacy at a point where it has to modify and change its culture.
A lot of culture components have been suppressed to the extent that few of today’s pharmacists understand that pre-government direct involvement in pharmacy in the form of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme it was the major provider of primary health care which was delivered in a personal and affordable manner.
Pharmacists did diagnose, prescribe and compound medicines for their patients and were visited before going on to the doctor if a complex condition presented.
Because of pressure from the medical profession, the words diagnose and prescribe were never to be openly used.
Even as late as 1977, when the editor (as a management consultant) tried to publish the results of a clinical services pilot study in the AJP, the president of the AMA had virtually a full day’s debate (by telephone) with the secretary of the PSA, to prevent the publishing of the word “consultant” in association with the word “pharmacist” or “pharmacy”.
At the end of that day it was agreed that the word “counseling” could be reserved for pharmacists and that “consultants” remained the preserve of medical doctors.
Times have changed and “consultants” now populate many disciplines, so the word “consultant” is not as exclusive as it once was.
Today, the fight still goes on as the medical profession argues over “turf wars”, often deliberately instigated by doctors who try to restrain the introduction of paid clinical services within pharmacist ranks.
That they have been successful for just over 30 years in influencing pharmacy culture sufficient to suppress the introduction of clinical services is testament to their political lobby.
Today, the “winds of change” are blowing down their corridor, so they now talk in terms of “collaboration”, which is a diversionary tactic to buy more time, even though there is a positive element to collaboration, it should not be the “main game”.
Pharmacy needs to retain its professional independence so that it can negotiate equitable collaborative relationships with something of substance.
2015 marks the start of a new cycle in pharmacy with an upwards momentum reaching a peak in 2035.
Our success and wealth creation will totally depend on how we craft our profession – adding cognitive services as new revenue streams while streamlining dispensing services.
New forms of decentralised education forming a regional nucleus will allow independent research to flourish.
Research exchanges will accelerate pharmacy cultural change, but it will take a lot to shake out the dead weight that is present in our leadership organisations.
In the slideshow following you will find many similarities between doctors and pharmacists, also the differences that separated them on occasions. Understanding the 50 centuries of pharmacy development will enable a better understanding to navigate today’s difficulties.