Pharmacists Called “Doctor”

Long time no talk, readers! I have literally been swamped with work for the past few months, as can be expected, and I finally have a chance to breathe (and write a new blog post!).

I wanted to share my thoughts about the debate regarding whether pharmacists should be referred to as “Doctor” or not. I’ve come across many articles in the past few months with a lot of varying opinions, both from pharmacists, patients, and physicians alike. I chose to address this topic because there is a whole lot of talk out there that pharmacists should not have the privilege of having this title. I am absolutely astounded by this. As a second year pharmacy student, I cannot imagine going through this amount of work, stress, and on the job experience to be referred to by any other name. I strongly believe that any student going through a professional school program, especially programs of a medical nature, have the right to have the title of “Doctor”, whether that is a physician, a pharmacist, a dentist, a chiropractor, a physical therapist, and many other allied health professionals.

Some of the arguments out there state that pharmacists should not be called a doctor because they are not able to diagnosis. They also state that the title is confusing to patients.

Those “haters” out there are only partially right when they say that pharmacists cannot diagnose patients. Pharmacy students go through just as much anatomy, pathophysiology, and therapeutics classes as other health professionals to understand the nature of disease and provide knowledgable recommendations for our patients. As a matter of fact, as pharmacy is an incredibly dynamic and expanding field, there are pharmacists now who work in the ambulatory setting (right in the doctor’s office) who are able to monitor patients’ labs and adjust medication regimes without a doctor present. There are also clinical pharmacists in the hospital who make therapeutic decisions on a daily basis for patients, when the doctors there require a more in-depth approach to medication therapy. Pharmacists are usually not required to make such serious decisions as this when they work in the retail setting, but they are still trained in the same manner as the clinical or ambulatory care pharmacists, and are able to recognize when a patient needs further assistance and care from doctors or other health care professionals.

As for the issue of confusion, I’d like to give our patients a little more credit than that. Generally, patients are going to know who you are and what you do, just by knowing where they are. Yes, we all wear white coats, but that is an honor and a privilege to us, whether we graduated from med school, pharmacy school, dental school, or the like. Yes, all of our name tags will refer to us as “Doctor”. If our patient still has an issue understanding what our profession is and how we can help them to achieve better health, then it is our shortcomings as a health professional. If we are not able to introduce ourselves to our patients and communicate in a way that is understood, then we are the ones who need to reevaluate our approach instead of putting the blame on sharing a title that each and every one of us has earned.

On a more personal note, I am not going through the next four years of my life to be called nothing. I am taking my schooling just as seriously as any other health professional student does, and therefore, I believe wholeheartedly that I deserve to have that one word placed before my last name on my name tag. The title of “Doctor” for me is not about the prestige or to have others see me as more knowledgeable. It is a symbol of the end of my academic journey; a small reminder that I was able to make it past all the challenges and adversity that stood in my way.

Everyone have a happy and safe Halloween!




One thought on “Pharmacists Called “Doctor”

  1. I agree with your post, 100%. Many people cannot conceive the degree of rigor and level of absolute devotion required to complete this area of study. Pharmacists (doctors) are far from the commonly perceived role of “pill-pusher”, just following another professional’s orders. They are an integral and essential component to safe, effective health care. The “title” is not only well-deserved, but entirely appropriate. Anyone who thinks otherwise is severely misinformed.


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