Who are the Godfathers of pharmacy?
He or she may be a pharmacist or a non-pharmacist, in-service or retired, a public worker or private, a black or white, a living or dead, old or young, experienced or naive; yet that individual’s services are urgently needed to guide the current and next generation of pharmacists into the next decade(s) of pharmacy practice. Pharmacy is at a cross-road; someone with prophetic vision is urgently needed to provide a strategic direction for the profession. For where there is no vision, the people perish.
Health services delivery remains dynamic and continues to increase in complexity day by day. Healthcare professionals keep pushing and extending their frontiers each day to meet the demand in the ever increasing complexity of modern healthcare. Specialization, diversification, acquisition of higher degrees - which are driven by increasing sophistication of medical technology and knowledge - are now the order of the day. The question is how does the 21stcentury pharmacist survive this challenge? How does he develop and maintain a competitive edge, and possibly become an industrial leader? What must he do at the workplace to enhance his relevance, strengthen his bargaining chip to enable him negotiate his conditions of service and salary structure from a much stronger position? What courses or programs must he undertake, pre-service or in-service, to enable him realize this goal? Must it be clinical, and if so which branch of the biomedical sciences must he pursue, where and for how long? Must it be health finance and economics, logistics and supply management, public health, health policy and planning? These and other questions are the reasons why we urgently need the wisdom and foresight of a sage to show us the way. We need another brother Moses to lead us to cross the red sea to the promise land.
It's in the light of the above questions that the quest by PSGH to chart a strategic plan for the profession must be seen as a step in the right direction, and deserves all attention necessary. Pharmacy in Ghana has come a long way. From certificate at School of Pharmacy at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, through Diploma in Kumasi College of Technology and the Baccalaureate program at U.S.T, to now Pharm.D in KNUST; from Pharmacy Board to Pharmacy council; from one Faculty of Pharmacy to Three. Despite these remarkable milestones, pharmacy still has a long way to go.
Fortunately, as a corporate body, the search for such Godfather(s) by the profession is not far-fetched. The profession is endowed with individuals who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields of endeavor, and are more than willing and prepared to share their expertise and insight with the current generation. These comprise of distinguished academicians who have made it to the peak of the academic pinnacle, seasoned managers and administrators in all fields of health service, various and diverse directors and program managers of health service, captains of industries and businesses, interns and fellows of the society. The challenge however is how to harness and harvest all these rich experience, knowledge and know-how of these individuals, distil them into critical action points, to provide a strategic direction for the profession in the years ahead.
Given the numerous distinguished personalities we are blessed with, we must take a more serious look at the concept of mentorship to groom the next generation of professionals leaders. The principles of pharmacy practice are difficult to define.
They represent the complex interaction of clinical, technical, and interpersonal skills acquired by personal study and experience on the field, and are revealed and mastered gradually during a lifetime. For instance, the pharmacist, while sometimes removed from immediate bedside patient care, is nevertheless a clinical specialist whose scientific knowledge, technical skills and know-how, and clinical experience is vitally important in clinical management and treatment of diseases.
These pioneers and transformational leaders should serve as role models and mentors for the current and next generation of pharmacist, to inspire professionalism and excellence. Mentorship, which has its root in antiquity, has proven to be one of the best means to transfer tacit knowledge and know-how, and nebulous skills in both the arts and sciences, and still holds promise as a solution to our plight. History has demonstrated that many genius, exceptional leaders and achievers succeeded because they were privileged to have followed the steps of mentors who saw the gifts in them, when even the protégé were not aware they had, and helped them to cultivate and nurture it until it blossomed. Every great leader had a mentor(s) who had profound impact in their carrier development: (Nelson Mandela- Mahatma Gandhi and Walter Susulu; Kwame Nkrumah- Martin Luther King Jr and George Padmore; John F. Kennedy-Winston Churchill and Dwight Eisenhower; Michael Faraday-Humphrey Davy; Albert Einstein-Isaac Newton and Michael Faraday).
Practicing pharmacy requires mastering many skills; the pharmacy manager must keep many balls in the air. Thus, it is up to every young professional to find the proper mentor and follow his path and guidance, identify the secrets of the master, and learn those secrets (tacit knowledge) to get transformed. As it stands now, it appears as if colleagues are not learning enough from the seasoned ones. However, the ever increasing complexity of modern healthcare delivery requires exploiting the concept of mentorship to groom the next generations of leaders for the pharmaceutical sector in particular and health sector in general. It takes more than recipes, blueprints, and even personal testimony to learn an industrial cuisine. It has been said that never question greatness.
In this current age, no one gets to the top all by himself. We all have gaps in our knowledge; there is always something new to learn. In order to uphold the highest level of professional standards, we must be prepared to humble ourselves and sit under the feet of mentors and commit ourselves to lifelong learning ;up-dating, improving, and fine-tuning our knowledge, skills and competencies on a continuous basis. Every pharmacist needs a mentor(s) to help him see further. We need the shoulders of giants to stand on. In today’s fast-paced, technologically advanced and ever changing world, it is even not adequate to be up-to-date; we must be up to tomorrow. But no one person can learn all there is to be learnt about a job on his own alone.
Healthcare requires strong leadership. Healthcare is about constant change, and there is no change so small that it threatens no one. Our education is not complete, thus we must never stop learning. Especially as young professionals, we must find new ways of perfecting our trade. The older generation must make conscious and deliberate effort to bequeath their knowledge and skills to the younger. The glory of old men is their wisdom. The younger ones must be open to new ideas, try new ways of doing things, and most importantly have an open mind. The role of education is to replace an empty mind with an open one. The experienced must equally be prepared to listen to the interns. Sometimes, the inexperience of interns enables them to see opportunities where the highly experienced see only boundaries. However, the protégé must be coachable – willing to accept and consider criticism which may not always be positive.
As professionals, we must be smart enough to identify and choose a mentor(s) that fit our needs and connects us to our aspirations and ambitions. It is never too late to learn. We need Godfathers to stand on their shoulders; academic, clinical, public health, legal and industrial giants to enable us see further into the future. Pharmacy is at a cross-road. Where are the Godfathers?
In conclusion, it must be noted that in this modern age of information technology, the foundation of Isaac Newton (1642-1727) still stands firm, bearing this seal: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”
Good Morning to all Godfathers on this platform who have offered us their shoulders to stand on.
Pharm. Dominic Korsah Otchere.