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Keeping the Dream Alive – written by second-year student pharmacist, Emily Meggs – is a multi-part series about pharmacy identity and pharmacy history.


“The dream of pharmacy as a clinical profession has been deferred for too long.” 

– Charles Hepler, 2nd Hilton Head Conference, 1989


As many of you know, or have recently been reminded, October is American Pharmacists Month. What does this mean for you?

For many non-pharmacy professionals, this means very little. This is exemplified by the many people outside of the profession who say to me, “How hard is it to actually be a pharmacist? All you do is count medications from a big bottle and put them into a smaller bottle.”

For pharmacy professionals, it may still not mean much, but to some, it is a time to celebrate our accomplishments as well as the accomplishments of our predecessors. It is also an opportunity to reaffirm that there is still room to grow.  That being said, can you really appreciate your accomplishments if you do not think about the steps that were taken by you and your predecessors to get to where you are today? Can you truly understand your identity as a pharmacist without acknowledging the people who shaped that identity? Have pharmacists done all they can do?

I believe that to attempt to answer any of these questions, you have to understand the history of pharmacy. It is difficult to know where you are going without knowing where you have been, and pharmacy is no exception. This past year, I was given an opportunity to research pharmacy history and coauthor an article about the changes in pharmacy over the past 100 years. Though this opportunity, I began to understand that the profession of pharmacy has been impacted by events such as the Industrial Revolution. I also learned how the profession of pharmacy has had impacts on healthcare such as increasing the amount of people vaccinated and improving health outcomes.

Over the month of October, I will address various issues relating to pharmacy identity and how the history of pharmacy sculpts the face of pharmacy that we see today. Whether you’re a practicing pharmacist, pharmacy student or just an interested spectator, learning how to appreciate how pharmacy’s role in healthcare has evolved overtime can help you appreciate the profession and see pharmacists for more than their dispensatory roles.


Read the inspiration!

  • Charles D. Hepler, A dream deferred, American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, Volume 67, Issue 16, 15 August 2010, Pages 1319–1325,
  • Hughes, Langston. “Dream Deferred (Harlem).” 101 Great American Poems. Ed. Andrew Carroll, et. al. Mineola, New York: Dover, 1998. 75. Print.


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