Magazine article Drug Topics

Reflections on Pharmacy School after 30 Years

Magazine article Drug Topics

Reflections on Pharmacy School after 30 Years

Article excerpt

What do you believe were your most relevant classes in pharmacy school? If you were asked today, how would you design the pharmacy school curriculum based on what's been important in your career? Here are my thoughts on the subject, from the perspective of a chain pharmacist.

My most prominent memory of pre-pharmacy and pharmacy school is the heavy emphasis on chemistry. Who can forget all those courses in inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, and biochemistry? To this day, I can't understand why my formal education placed such a heavy emphasis on chemistry. There is very litde that I need to know about chemistry to function as a competent retail pharmacist.

The public associates pharmacists with chemistry, but that is an outdated view of pharmacists today, just as the mortar and pestle is an archaic symbol for pharmacy. The chemistry requirements in pharmacy school seem to be a holdover from the days when "pharmacist" was almost synonymous with "chemist."

My organic chemistry class consisted of pre-pharmacy and premedical students. I remember the professor of the class mentioning that he had been approached by some premed students about making the class more meaningful to aspiring health professionals. The professor commented that this was a reasonable request and that the issue would be examined. However, I didn't detect any increase in relevance after that point. At that time, I considered it somewhat idealistic that these premed students approached the professor with a request to make the class more relevant for future health professionals. Now, I realize they were absolutely right.

There was a general perception among pre-pharmacy and premed students that the chemistry and physics classes were "hurdle" classes used by admissions committees to weed out applicants. If a student did well in those classes, it was assumed that he or she could do well in pharmacy school or medical school. Like the heavy emphasis on chemistry that was required to become a pharmacist, I have never understood the physics requirement. Even back in the 1970s, it should have been perfecdy clear that physics had very little to do with pharmacy.

In pharmacy school, I had no idea that memorizing things like the structural formula of drugs would turn out to be of no use in my career. …

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