Pharmacists play a pivotal role in our healthcare system and this month we are proud to join many around the country in honoring these men and women. Pharmacists work tirelessly, oftentimes behind the scenes, to ensure we receive the care we need. This month, and every month we want to ensure their efforts don’t go unnoticed.
History of Pharmacy in America
Long before there were designated areas for patients to fill their medication prescribed to them by a doctor there were apothecaries. Apothecaries had little to no regulation or standardization in the way they dispensed medication. In order to run an apothecary one only had to complete a short apprenticeship. “In 1804, Louisiana changed that. It became the first state to require licensing for pharmacists, and in 1816 French immigrant Louis Dufilho Jr. became America’s first licensed pharmacist.” (Source) The 19th century entered into a pivotal shift in the way society dealt with medicine.
Beginning in the 18th century, pharmacists were known to use alternative medical practices like herbs and leeches that were said to cleanse the body of poisonous disease or excess blood. Some of these practices have been discontinued while others have made modern day comebacks. Fast forward to the early 19th century, where many drugs were developed and “production of medicines moved into industrial pharmacies, where further scientific innovation could be undertaken with better machinery and a larger budget.” (Source)
With the onslaught of many diseases entering into America in the 19th century, the pharmacist role became much like that of a doctor. People would go to them to get diagnosed and treated for diseases such as the Yellow Fever and Small Pox. They were surely on the front-line for many of the diseases that plagued America, and still are to this day.
Pharmacists of Today
The United States experiences its own health issues that are unique to our population including diabetes, substance abuse, mental health, and immunization just to name a few. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to acknowledge and appreciate our front-line healthcare workers. There is no question that doctors and nurses should be recognized as heroes for what they have dealt with and aided in during the past year and a half. There has been little mention in the media and elsewhere of the pharmacists who have also contributed to pandemic.
Pharmacists and the COVID Pandemic
From day one of the pandemic, pharmacists have been on the front lines dispensing life saving medications. There is no question that there has been an increase in demand for medical services and the pandemic has placed a heightened amount of stress on the healthcare system overall. On top of their existing duties, pharmacies are now tasked with providing COVID testing and vaccines. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has recognized pharmacies as a critical touch point for medical care in the community and has issued a new scope of practice to pharmacists to help their communities during these tough times.” (Source)
Lines at the pharmacy may have become longer but that is only because of the increase in responsibilities our pharmacists are tasked with. This month is a time to recognize and show our respect to these men and women who are working tirelessly to ensure we receive our medication and proper care.
Front Line Heroes
The next time you’re at the pharmacy, take time to thank your local pharmacist for their hard work and commitment to serving their community.