This was emailed too me and seemed quite compelling. I don't have much to add to it except my curiosity. I was hoping to present this to the community and see what your thoughts were. Please share them with me (and the author).
From: leon <email@example.com>
Subject: too many incompetent foreign graduates
I am sorry to switch gears on you, but I felt the need to address another issue in the field of pharmacy. As most pharmacists already know, it is very tight job market out there. When I graduated, it was completely the opposite. Sign-on bonuses were common and hourly rates were very negotiable. Most employers were willing to train old and new pharmacists from the very beginning. Fast forward a few years later and all those jobs have practically vanished. Without networking, it is nearly impossible to get your foot into the door.
While I have been fortunate enough to find another job in pharmacy, I noticed a disturbing trend. Generally speaking, I will say most of my classmates were competent pharmacists. They were hardworking and eager to learn and keep up with the latest drug therapies. As I worked in the real world, I noticed some really ignorant and incompetent pharmacists. These pharmacists would not know the difference between Keppra and Keflex (no, I am not kidding). These pharmacists could not tell you the names of other drugs in the same family (ACE inhibitors, ARBs, Cephalosporins, Fluoroquinolones, etc). They could not even tell you the generic name of a drug, much less if there was even a generic on the market. Worse, I started catching their prescription errors on a regular basis and had to explain to customers why our pharmacy was making mistakes. My technicians would tell me, “That floater we had yesterday was dumb as hell. He was asking me questions about drugs.” My other regular pharmacists would shake their heads in disgust after seeing the kinds of mistakes that were being made.
Who are these pharmacists? Foreign graduates. I spent 6 years getting my Doctorate of Pharmacy degree. By contrast, most of these foreign graduates spend only 4 years in school. Unlike most medical schools in foreign countries, pharmacy schools outside the United States are basically looked down upon in their respective countries. Part of the reason is because the education is lacking and does not challenge the prospective student. A pharmacist in China, for example, would make little money and he or she would be working every day to make ends meet. As for a place on the healthcare team, you can forget about it. Pharmacists in other countries are poorly thought of and would not be considered true healthcare professionals. On the other hand, getting into a medical school in China is very difficult. After one enters and graduates from medical school, he or she would still be required to perform a residency in the United States for a minimum of 3 years. Despite all of this, it is apparently pretty easy for a foreign graduate to get a Pharmacy License in just about any state by taking a couple of simple exams such as the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination and a Test of Spoken English. Throw in a few hundred dollars and you basically have bought a Pharmacy License.
The biggest consequence in all of this is the rise in prescription errors. I have seen it over and over again at different pharmacies and settings. These pharmacists and pharmacies are a danger to public’s health and safety. Another effect these foreign pharmacists are having is that they are over saturating the job market. I can live with the fact that another pharmacist gets the job I was looking for. There are many competent and very good pharmacists out there in the marketplace. They are mentally very sharp and do their job very well. However, when I see a pharmacist make errors repeatedly, I start thinking to myself, “How can this person not know what they are doing? Where did this person even go to school?” And on most occasions, he or she did not attend a pharmacy school in the United States.
At the end of the day, this country needs to stop just handing out Pharmacy Licenses to anyone who claims to be a pharmacist. A pharmacy education in foreign countries is not equivalent to a pharmacy education in the United States. I am sure there are exceptions to the rule. I am certain there are some highly motivated foreign graduates who proved themselves over and over that they are more than qualified to handle the responsibilities of a pharmacist. I just have yet to see one such pharmacist. In my experience, some schools do a better job of putting capable pharmacists onto the marketplace (UCSF seems to do a good job, in my opinion). Personally, I think all foreign graduates should have to attend pharmacy school in the United States in order to acquire a Pharmacy License (a 3 year or 4 year Pharm.D program). Before someone thinks I am too eco-centric, I was actually born in another country, but I grew up here in America, and English is my primary language. And yes, I am a United States citizen. I just think our profession needs to have a serious discussion on what a pharmacy education in the Unites States is really worth before it is too late.
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TheAngriestPharmacist did NOT write this post. He has not commented about the validity, certitude, or accuracy of anything written in the post or in ANY of the comments. Please stop submitting comments accusing TAestP of racism, discrimination, or having anything to do with this post. I only posted this because the author asked to use my site as a place to reach many pharmacists. I will not post accusatory comments about myself. I will delete them and ban the author from the site entirely. If you have an opinion, feel free to post it. Keep the other pointless shit off my site.