So, I have always considered pharmacists practitioners and health care providers. However, recently, I hear colleagues speak about “sending a fax to the patient’s health care provider”. I see legislation which defines “practitioner” as a physician, physician’s assistant, or nurse.

Are not we not practicing a profession? We refer to our role as “practicing pharmacy”. So why then do even many in our own ranks not consider ourselves “practitioners”?

I certainly think I am providing health care to patients when I educate them on a new medication and how to help fit it into their lives. I view myself as providing health care to patients when I am checking their blood pressure or assessing how well they are managing their diabetes. And I certainly view myself as providing health care when I am doing a comprehensive medication review, medication reconciliation, or rounding on an inpatient unit. Why then do many in our profession segregate ourselves from the “health care provider” group and term?

I think there are many people in this profession providing health care. Now if truly all a pharmacist is doing is checking to make sure the right product is in the vial and asking “any questions?”, then maybe a few are not providing health care. However, there are many (I would argue most) that are and until we acknowledge ourselves as health care providers we will never be able to expect patients and other providers to see us as one.

We need to start being more confident about talking about the services that we offer our patients. Modesty over whether we are health care providers and practitioners does not help our profession move forward. As a profession we need to first start seeing ourselves collectively as health care providers, then we can move forward with filling out the spectrum of patient care services that will fulfill our role in that area.

I have been told many times that “the real world is different” and that I need to adjust to expectations about the pharmacists role from patients and prescribers. I would argue that if we can see our profession adding more value to the health care system than we currently do, we should try to adjust “the real world” to be more comfortable with higher expectations of us.

So, Do you consider pharmacists health care providers or practitioners?

How can we better fulfill our roles as providers in the health care system? Or are we doing all that we can?

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