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Do people really know what we do?

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Recently when I was wasting time on the internet, I stumbled across an article on the Times Higher Education website. It was written by one Kevin Smith of the University of Abertay Dundee about another article discussing the increasing numbers of students studying pharmacy in the UK.

I fully understand that Mr Smith's article is part truth, part opinion and so must everyone who has commented on this piece of writing. However the most shocking thing is that out of all the readers' comments not one is even remotely in agreement. This is because the article itself it not very complimentary towards pharmacists and pharmacy students.

Personally my favourite part is when Mr Smith starts to say that, to quote 'it is far from clear that the profession needs the AAB students Smart refers to, and it is unconvincing to claim that pharmacy training must be long winded and expensive'.

Well thanks Kevin for telling me how you think I've wasted three years of my life and several thousands of pounds. I'm not attacking Mr Smith's right to free speech, however from the article it really doesn't sound like he's done any research into a pharmacist's role at all.

Apart from this he also appears to believe that a cap on students will artificially bolster our professional position. I can see the logical steps he took to reach this conclusion, apart from that the conclusion itself is pretty short sighted. A cap on student numbers does seem like a realistic step if there are so many of us that it is becoming increasingly hard for students to find pre-registration places and subsequently permanent employment. 

Mr Smith's letter was written on the 1st of November, and by the 8th of November a reply had been written from John Smart (Chair of the Pharmacy Schools Council) and Vikesh Kakad (President of the BPSA). This provided Mr Smith with several pieces of information to read and educate himself on our profession. Mr Smith has yet to write a reply, although I doubt he will.

Despite Mr Smith's published ignorance it does make you wonder whether people actually know what a pharmacist's role entails. I know I'm frequently asked 'so what do you actually do?', it is starting to grate a little and I've not even graduated yet. Then again if we were to raise awareness about the pharmacy profession, would that not make more students want to apply and thus make the cap on numbers more likely.

Regardless of my random speculation, if my rant has inspired you in anyway to read these two letters I've posted the links to them below.

Mr Kevin Smith's contribution 'Spare the Special Pleading'

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=421676 

Smart and Kakad's reply 'Prescription for Waste'

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storyCode=421782&sectioncode=26

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