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What it means to be a Clinical Pharmacist: An n of one study

Written by: Brian L. Erstad Pharm.D., FCCP
Published on: Jan 5, 2021

The terms clinical pharmacy and clinical pharmacist have generated a good deal of discussion in the pharmacy profession over the past several decades.

I remember having conversations with one director of pharmacy who felt strongly that the term clinical pharmacist was inappropriate to use when describing any pharmacist within the pharmacy community. The director felt the term to be exclusive not inclusive, particularly for those pharmacists with B.S. degrees in pharmacy who had many years of on‐the‐job clinical experience.

Such discussions get to the heart of the mission of American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP), that “is to improve human health by extending the frontiers of clinical pharmacy” with the definition of a clinical pharmacist as “practitioners who provide comprehensive medication management and related care for patients in all health care settings.”

In what follows, I will describe what I think are some of the more important characteristics of a seasoned clinical pharmacist using vignettes from my own storied career. My intent is to demonstrate that the development of a clinical pharmacist is a function of cognitive and affective skills learned through diverse experiences over years of training and practice.