Reflecting on American Pharmacist Month with Dr. Swathi

The leaves changing colors and the smell of pumpkin spice in the crisp air mean one thing: it’s October.

Apart from these seasonal favorites, it’s also American Pharmacists Month. As an Integrative Health and Medical Cannabis Pharmacist, I feel privileged to be among such an incredible, diverse group of colleagues.

Launched officially in 2004, American Pharmacist Month highlights pharmacists’ contributions to healthcare and their positive impact on the world. In these uncertain times, pharmacists have been on the front lines as essential workers, ensuring patients are cared for, regardless of the risk of virus exposure.

In particular, the 12th is #WomenPharmacistDay. This day was selected in honor of Elizabeth Greenleaf, a woman pharmacist who had a thriving career as well as a family of 12 children. Over the past few decades, women have made their mark on the profession and have soared from a mere 8% of the nation's pharmacist workforce to over 60%. 

Grateful to be among such powerhouse women (and men) in the profession, the most troubling factor I see with my colleagues is the current pharmacist oversaturated job market. With a surge of new pharmacy schools opening their doors seemingly everyday (virtual doors right now, of course), there are more graduates than jobs. Education for pharmacists, young and old, is focused on two conventional roles: retail and hospital. However, as doctorate-level medical professionals, our clinical expertise and transferable skills makes us a dynamic choice to be a part of many industries.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I have seen and experienced first-hand how pharmacists and other healthcare professionals have re-evaluated what and who is important to them. As a silver lining, we have used this time to recognize our passions and pivot to focus what brings us personal and professional satisfaction. Through forging my own unconventional path and creating a niche that did not exist, one of my goals is to inspire other healthcare professionals to pursue what lights them up. As a western-trained pharmacist, I draw on my knowledge base daily in order to be the best natural medicines healer and educator I can be as the Chief Scientific Officer at Element Apothec.

This month, let’s raise a coffee or matcha to pharmacists, student pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians, to thank them for their ongoing dedication to making a difference in our communities. Trust me, they will appreciate your gratitude more than you know.

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