This morning I read an article about how the free trade agreement with Europe is going to effect the naming of food products. One cheesemaker wants to embrace the change because Australian cheesemakers should be confident in their products. Another was more conservative, saying if a customer goes to the shop looking for camembert or brie then that's what they want, so if their product isn't called that they'll miss out on the sale.
Names and terms matter. They communicate to the customer what they can expect from your product or service. The value they expect.
Like it or not, to most people Pharmacist means supplier of drugs. More than advice. Definitely more than medication management services. Absolutely more than any of the behind the scenes stuff they don't even recognise is happening. The supply.
If we try and rebrand pharmacist as being a different type of health professional we would be throwing the baby out with the bath water. We could lose consumer trust all together and fade into irrelevance. However, if we don't make it clear that the profession is no longer just about supply we diminish our value.
I think making progress on this must start within the profession. We must have a greater sense of proffession-hood. Understand and believe in our value. Take ownership of being the experts in how medicines are used.
It doesn't matter if your role is in a dispensary, conducting HMRs, DTC committee, QUM in RACF, taking medication histories, consulting about OTC medicines, validating chemotherapy, overseeing clinical trials... it's all about ensuring that those medicines can be used safely and effectively.
I think consumers can understand that message.
I think it can help pharmacists to believe in their value proposition. I think it can help pharmacists to find fulfillment and find ways of contributing to better outcomes whether they are getting smashed with scripts at chemist warehouse or managing a team of clinical pharmacists. Because sometimes, when you're stuck in the middle of it all, it can be easy to forget.