The Most Underrated Job in My Country
Being a Pharmacist in a developing country is complicated.
Do you know the funniest part of being a pharmacist in Mexico? People think that your job is to put on a mascot costume while dancing to the latest hits.
In the 21st century, in 2020, Mexicans have no idea what a pharmacist does.
I found out that a Bachelor in Pharmacy existed, about 7 years ago. The program of BCs in Pharmacy was created 20 years ago. Only a small part of society cares about this profession. They don’t wonder who makes the medicine that helps whenever the Tequila hits too hard.
It’s no surprise that only a few months ago pharmacists were recognized as an important part of the health-care team. People think that only doctors and nurses are part of a hospital.
Let me tell you the top 3 misconceptions that Mexicans share about what a pharmacist does. They thrive from these questions:
- Pharmacist? Are you gonna run a quick-store?
- Pharmacist? Are you gonna end up like Heisenberg?
- Pharmacist? Bet you didn’t get into med-school, what kind of nurse is that?
Why a quick-store?
That misconception is the fault of the system that runs pharmacies in this country. In a so-called Drug store, you can buy anything, from a pack of gum to an antibiotic. These establishments are more alike to a 7-eleven. Offering the option of getting your medicine along with a quick snack.
But here’s the worst part. Since the drug stores have no rules to comply, the people that sell you the medicine have no studies in the matter. You can work in a Drug store with an 8th-grade certificate.
That’s the reason why people think that being a pharmacist takes no effort. We have to make them understand that pharmacists don’t sell the medication. They make it, design it, test it so that they can consume it without side effects.
Society is so blind to our existence that there are only 3 colleges that teach a BCs in Pharmacy. All the other universities in Mexico teach a combination of pharmacy with biology and chemistry. The so-called QFB’s. These kinds of professionals work in many areas, not only in pharmacy.
In the end, I believe that pharmacy as a career is beginning to arise in Mexico. Who knows what direction is going to take, I hope is for the better.
Being Like Heisenberg is The Dream
Whenever I hear this comparison makes me feel proud. In essence, people are recognizing the power that being a pharmacist compelled on us. The responsibility to not use our knowledge for the wrong cause. Let’s face it, it’s way better than comparing us to a custom wearing buffoon.
This idea is common knowledge, it’s surprising the frequency that I get that question in my day to day. But that in itself it’s bad because people think that we are the ones responsible for creating drugs. I’m not talking about aspirins, I mean real mind-dumbing drugs. I’m not scared they think that but is discouraging they don’t understand the importance of the career.
Deep down every student in my class wanted to become like Heisenberg, rich, and famous. Because of one particularity, using chemistry to improve a drug. Few scientists have the privilege of doing that in this modern world. But dreaming about it is something we’ve all done.
In the rest of the world, I’m proud that pharmacists are part of a bigger picture. During the 5-year college course that is the BCs in pharmacy, I dealt with a lot of misunderstandings. Telling everyone I know about this science has been an active part of being a pharmacist.
I love to share my expertise around medications with my friends and family. Helping them to better take their medicine. That’s what studying pharmacy means to me.
Doctor? Nope, I’m a pharmacist.
There is a huge difference between the health care system that runs in Mexico compared to the one in the USA. Here we didn’t use to need prescriptions to buy medicine, one could go to the drugstore to get anything. The only drugs you could not get where drugs, literally.
In Mexico we don’t use personalized flasks that contain medicine. We buy the whole 20 pills standard size flask. It doesn’t matter you’ll only take 15 out of 20 pills, you have to buy the whole thing. What happens to the other 5? Well, you bet they don’t go into the trash.
If you ever feel like you’re getting sick, take those 5 left.
That is how 90% of families think medicine works. They prescribe themselves almost any drug for headache, stomach ache, toothache.
In 2010 law changed. People needed to have a prescription to buy antibiotics and other types of medicine. Thus, the role of the pharmacist wasn’t needed until this changed happened. Even now with this regulation drug stores are being managed by any person that wants a low-wage job.
You might have guessed by now the reason why pharmacists don’t have an important role in the country. They only work in factories or hospitals. In the latter they don’t give private consultation. They’re managers of the hospital pharmacy.
Few people have had a pharmacist talk to them in their whole lives. My grandmother didn’t know we existed until I started my BCs. The Mexican health care system is busy trying to change regulations to tackle this problem. But I don’t think that we will be recognized as an important part of health care. Many changes have to happen before that.
Those are the top three misconceptions I’ve encountered while studying pharmacy. Hope non of you can relate to my story.