A profession must be functionalist, in so far that their status is achieved because the functions performed are essential for society, or trait orientated, where the defined characteristics of the profession are exclusively of their own.
The functionalist approach dictates that the profession will provide specialised and expert knowledge for the benefit of the community and in return society deems on them a privileged position.
The trait orientated approach, mandates that the profession possesses the following core features: specialised knowledge and lengthy training, service orientation, monopoly of practice, and self regulation.
The element of power is important in the transformation of an occupation to a profession and in the profession’s interaction with non-professionals, the State and other professions.
Pharmacy in Australia possesses important traits and fulfils important societal functions and would be regarded as a profession.
I would argue, however, that pharmacy is indeed still a trade and for two valid reasons.
The first reason is the incorporation of the conflicting goals of business and professionalism. The beneficial occupational practices related to a high professional role orientation, conflict with a high business orientation and could be detrimental to beneficial practice behaviour.
The second reason is that pharmacy’s existence, the dispensing of medicines, is dependant on the medical authority of the doctor and within the power of the medical profession.
A profession is a dynamic and interactive group process. Questions, decisions, involvement or any thing that could produce change against the status quo is ignored, ridiculed, stopped and not allowed to occur. This keeps Australian pharmacy at equilibrium. The interactive group process of our marginalised profession, co-ordinates, influences and dominates Australian pharmacy practice.
There are people in Australia who are members and have leadership positions in not only public institutions (the Australian Pharmacy Council, various accredited Australian pharmacy schools and State Pharmacy Boards) but also private entities (the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia).
The blurred line between public institutions and private entities in Australian pharmacy has compromised political accountability, decreased transparency and presents a clear conflict of interest.
This is unethical at the very least and for the benefit of all must be stopped and ended now.
University of South Australia Pharmacy Graduate 2008