Change will happen, longtime pharmacy educator Joseph O. Dean, Jr., told members of the 2012 Class of Samford University's McWhorter School of Pharmacy.
"Be alert to the fact that change is inevitable, embrace the belief that change is positive, equip yourself to deal with change on your own terms and make certain you do your part to shape our profession for tomorrow," said Dr. Dean, dean emeritus of the Samford pharmacy school.
"Yes, I was dean Dean," he quipped to the audience of 127 Doctor of Pharmacy degree candidates, families and friends during pharmacy commencement in Wright Center Friday, May 18. The 1962 Samford pharmacy graduate retired as dean in 2006 after a varied career that included community pharmacy and various aspects of higher education administration. He holds a master's degree from the University of Montevallo and a Ph.D. from the University of Alabama.
Pointing to the many changes that have occurred in his 50 years in education and pharmacy practice, he urged the new graduates to know that, five decades from now, they too, will see a different landscape of pharmacy.
Today's internet and mail service pharmacies and refill ordering from Internet web pages, for instance, all indicate an evolving health care system that could mean a different focus for pharmacists.
Will a pharmacist handle the actual distribution tasks of tomorrow, or experience a shift from product focus to patient focus where a knowledge of clinical pharmacotherapeutics has more value in the system, he asked.
Also, pharmacists could become more truly primary care providers of health care, accepted by the health professional team as partners in patient care.
"An impressive movement is underway in independent and community-based chain pharmacy to redefine the role of the pharmacist in community-based health care delivery," said Dean. And, pharmacists are forging partnerships with physicians to design effective treatment protocols which often incorporate prescriptive prerogatives.
New models of practice and utilization of broadened pharmacist skills may make a difference, he suggested.
Drugs may change, given current research and development efforts by pharmaceutical companies, genetic engineering and growing acceptance of herbals, natural products and alternative medicine, he said.
Noting how pharmacy education has changed from the standard four-year B.S. in pharmacy degree when he graduated, changes in that area may also lie ahead. Schools may develop curricula and offer degrees that prepare individuals for multiple levels of practice, such as offering a bachelor's degree in pharmaceutical sciences that does not qualify a graduate for pharmacy practice, but equips them for jobs in industry or for graduate studies.
Citing a possible need for further preparation with a post-doctoral residency or board certification in a practice specialty area, he stressed having a plan to stay competent and competitive over the next 50 years.
"The publics' and other health professionals' levels of expectations of you as a pharmacist are higher than ever and growing every year," he said. "And, pharmacists are finding it more and more important to differentiate themselves in a competitive marketplace."
Dean commended the Class of 2012 for its 100 percent participation in its senior campaign to raise money for the McWhorter School of Pharmacy.
The program included remarks by Alex Steinmiller, president of Holy Family Cristo Rey Catholic High School. In a unique partnership fostered by Pharmacy faculty member Dr. P.J. Hughes, four students from the Birmingham school work one day at week at Samford.
The 16-year-old student who has been placed at the pharmacy school this year, Steinmiller said, has had a valuable opportunity to get a glimpse of what is possible for her.
He urged the Samford graduates to remember that they are called to serve, not just to work. "Knowledge comes from learning. Wisdom comes from God," said Steinmiller, a Catholic priest.
"Be catalysts for compassion," he urged. "The world needs your science, your art and your compassionate attentiveness."
Scott C. Keith, president of the class of 2012, complimented his classmates for the impact they have had on the community, and their support for each other. The graduates wore orange ribbons in support of classmate Marc Andersen and his wife, Janette, who has leukemia, and their children.
Although Janette is in Salt Lake City, Utah, recovering from a bone marrow transplant, "through Facebook time, she got to watch her husband graduate, live," said Keith, who focused his cell phone camera on Marc as he received his diploma and hood.
The program concluded with pharmacy school dean Charles D. Sands III leading the graduates in the Oath of a Pharmacist, the traditional closing for pharmacy graduation.