Oath of a Pharmacist: Changing times
FROM APhA HEADQUARTERS
Crystal Atwell is the APhA Senior Director of Student and New Practitioner Development in Washington, DC.
When was the last time you thought about the Oath of a Pharmacist? Maybe selfies from your white coat ceremony or moments from your school or college of pharmacy orientation are flashing across your mind. Perhaps you are a first-year student pharmacist and you are wondering what the Oath is. The Oath of a Pharmacist is based on the Oath and Prayer of Maimonides with input from APhA and the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP). The Board of Directors of AACP approved the Oath of a Pharmacist in 1983. The Oath was updated by APhA–ASP and the ACCP Pharmacy Council of Deans Task Force on Professionalism in 1994. In a joint effort between the two associations, it was again revised to the current version in 2007. Reciting the words in the Oath reaffirms our commitment to the profession of pharmacy and the patients we serve.
Fast forward to 2020, and you will see a society in metamorphosis. Student pharmacists from across the country began to call into question the words of the Oath and whether these words represent the pharmacists they want to be for a changing society and a diverse patient population. During the 2021 APhA–ASP Midyear Regional Meetings Policy Proposal Forum, students shared thoughts around the current language of the Oath. When it came to addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), student pharmacists felt the statements were passive and could be overlooked or open for interpretation. APhA–ASP members shared their need to tackle DEI issues directly, to set an example for all health care professions, and to begin to repair relationships with vulnerable patient populations. Momentum picked up on individual campuses as students reached out to their deans and faculty to recommend similar changes for inclusion in their school and college of pharmacy graduation ceremonies.
It was time for AACP and APhA–ASP to collaborate once again.
Voice your opinion
Throughout the spring of 2021, the Oath has been at the forefront of conversation between APhA and AACP. A steering committee of 12 representatives, including two student pharmacists—Juan Rodriguez, APhA–ASP National President and Adam Aboubakare, University of the Pacific—was formed. The committee was charged with proposing revisions to the Oath that encompass diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism values all while keeping the Oath as timeless as possible. Together, the steering committee spent several months debating potential language and crafting recommendations to update the Oath that would reflect this charge. The committee has finalized their proposal (see next page for proposed language), and it is time for student pharmacists to voice their thoughts on the changes.
APhA–ASP will host a virtual town hall meeting on Tuesday, September 28, at 8:00 pm ET. This open forum will allow student pharmacists to share their thoughts and comments on the proposed changes to the Oath. You can register via the QR code. You can also share your feedback individually by submitting an e-mail to APhA–ASP@aphanet.org with the subject line “Oath of a Pharmacist Feedback.” Comments will remain anonymous when shared with the committee.
Juan encourages all student pharmacists to take advantage of this opportunity and challenges them to be a part of this milestone in the profession’s history: “What’s beautiful about the Oath of a Pharmacist is that it is meant to be long-lasting and represents each pharmacist’s dedication to our profession and our patients. Revisions to the Oath are a part of our commitment to promoting sustainable patient care and safety.”
The mission of APhA–ASP is to “envision and advance the future of pharmacy,” and now is your opportunity to contribute to that vision and shape the next chapter of the profession.
Register for the September 28 Town Hall: https://aphanet.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEkce6rqT8sG9EZhffoiNyTYFk0XwxmqdXC.
Oath of a Pharmacist: Final revised draft
I promise to devote myself to a lifetime of service to others through the profession of pharmacy. In fulfilling this vow:
I will consider the welfare of humanity and relief of suffering my primary concerns.
I will apply my knowledge and experience to advance health equity to assure optimal outcomes for all patients.
I will respect and protect all personal and health information entrusted to me.
I will accept the responsibility to improve my professional knowledge, expertise, and self-awareness.
I will champion diversity and inclusion, respect the perspectives of others, and mitigate my personal biases.
I will hold myself and my colleagues to the highest principles of our profession’s moral, ethical and legal conduct.
I will embrace and advocate changes that improve patient care.
I will utilize my knowledge, skills, experiences, and values to prepare the next generation of pharmacists.
I take these vows voluntarily with the full realization of the responsibility with which I am entrusted by the public.
Edits to existing statement