While pharmacists deserve daily gratitude and respect for their work, we especially appreciate these hardworking individuals during October, which is "American Pharmacists Month."
The American Pharmacists Association (aPhA) began the October tradition in 2004 as a way to celebrate and recognize the important contributions pharmacists have made. Since then, the month-long celebration provides an opportunity to promote awareness among the public, patients, policy makers and other stakeholders about the many services pharmacists provide beyond their traditional role of dispensing medicines.
So hat's off to America's dedicated pharmacists, for the vital role they have in promoting health and well-being, and for the extra steps they take – on a daily basis – to engage with patients and ensure medication safety and adherence.
What a better way to mark American Pharmacists Month, than with some compelling statistics, and a brief overview of some more noteworthy members of the profession? A few examples include:
- A highly-educated profession of more than 300,00! The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 2016 pharmacist
workforce of 312,500 individuals. Pharmacists must earn a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree from an accredited program, which generally requires four years to complete. This is in addition to a candidate's undergraduate education. Pharmacists must pass the North
American Pharmacists Licensure Examination (NAPLEX), and meet licensing/examination requirements of the state(s) in which they practice.
- Among America's Most Trusted Professions. 2018 research by Gallup found 62 percent of U.S. adults believe pharmacists have "high/very high honesty and ethical standards." As reported by Forbes magazine, the only professions with higher scores: Nurses (82 percent), Military officers (71 percent), Grade school teachers (66 percent) and Medical Doctors (65 percent).
- Benjamin Franklin was among our earliest pharmacists, and a true pioneer in medical advancement. Among his many contributions, Franklin devised a flexible urethral catheter, identified lead poisoning as a cause of abdominal pain, and was a proponent of inoculation against smallpox. He also play a role in founding colonial America's first hospital, Pennsylvania Hospital, which was founded in 1751 "to take care of the sick, poor and insane who were wandering the streets of Philadelphia."
- Before embarking on the military career that would bring him infamy, Benedict Arnold apprenticed at an apothecary owned by family cousins. Arnold left the apprenticeship on numerous occasions to serve in the army during the french and Indian War, before establishing his own apothecary in New Haven, CT.
- Acclaimed mystery writer Agatha Christie, who often incorporated poison-laced intrigue into her plots, wrote with firsthand knowledge, gleaned from
time spent during World War I as an apothecary's assistant in the dispensary at her local hospital in Torquay, located in Devon, England.
- Former vice president of the United States Hubert Humphrey took time off from college to work at his family's South Dakota pharmacy during the Great Depression, and eventually earned his pharmacist's license.
- Coca-Cola was invented in 1886 by Atlanta pharmacist Dr. John Stith Pemberton. According to the Coca-Cola Company website, Dr. Pemberton produced the syrup for Coca-Cola, which was then teamed with carbonated water to produce the new drink. Dr. Pemberton's partner and bookkeeper, Frank M. Robinson suggested the "Coca-Cola" name because, the company website notes, he thought "the two Cs would look well in advertising."
- Other notable pharmacists-turned-soft-drink-developers include Charles Alderton who invented Dr. Pepper, Caleb Bradham who invented Pepsi and Charles Elmer Hires who invented Hires Root Beer while on his honeymoon.
Here's to the nation's pharmacists! Thank you for all you do!