Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica

Humble pharmacist syndrome

“I didn’t realize you knew all that information!”

During my first few weeks as a practising pharmacist, this phrase used to instil a feeling of pride—people were finally starting to realize pharmacies were more than drug distribution centers.

However, after being on the frontlines for a few months, this comment now elicits frustration—how is it that people didn’t already know this about us?

I came to this conclusion: effectively marketing our professional services continues to be a struggle for most pharmacists.

I’ve heard many stories about irritated clients who were outraged that their prescription took 15 minutes longer than expected.

However, what if that client was aware of the important work being done behind the scenes?

Would they still be disgruntled if they knew you saved them a trip to the emergency room after you prevented a drug interaction?

Would they be short knowing that you caught their child’s allergy to the prescribed antibiotic?

Once people understand the impact our professional services make on a daily basis, they can place a value on our “invisible interventions.”

As pharmacists, humility may be prevalent in our gene pool, but we need to take it upon ourselves to advocate for the impact we make in our clients’ lives each and every day.

Once people understand the scope of our professional ability, they can place value on our services.

And when they place value and see how we fit in the healthcare puzzle, they will trust their pharmacist to assume more of a role in their health and well-being.

In doing so, the high-level discussions around fair reimbursement will shift away from drug distribution and further into compensating us for our professional services.

So next time, pass on the piece of humble pie and instead turn that humility into advocacy.

P.S. The global pharmacist tweet-a-thon is a start in the right direction. But we need to have these discussions on a daily basis with our clients, payers and other healthcare professionals.

Jeff Wandzura is the Past-President of the Canadian Association of Pharmacy Students and Interns, a member of the Blueprint for Pharmacy Steering Committee, Co-founder of MobiCare Health and a practicing pharmacist in Saskatoon.

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