Women Pharmacist Day, October 12, 2019, is a wonderful opportunity to recognize those women who have made – and continue to make – contributions to pharmacy practice and our patients’ lives.
Fifty years ago, I became a registered pharmacist. I’ll be honest—some days it seems like yesterday; and other days, it seems like forever ago. Oh, the changes I have seen through the years in equipment, practice, education, and gender of pharmacists.
Changes for women, as well as pharmacy practice, are enormous. Women are now 50% of pharmacy students, computers are the norm, and pharmacists are counseling patients. Pharmacy practice today is nothing like 50 years ago.
When I finished pharmacy school, there were only seven women in my graduating class of 77. We hung together and most of us joined Kappa Epsilon, the women’s professional pharmacy fraternity on our campus. Today, this organization still supports women in pharmacy but has evolved with the times and welcomes men as well as women.
Upon graduation, I took a staff pharmacist position with a small chain. At this time, retail pharmacists made the most money and most retail pharmacies were owned and operated by individual pharmacists. In many cases, the men were paid more than the women.
Because you were a young female, everyone would always ask to see the pharmacist and then tell you that you were too young to be a pharmacist and they wanted to talk to the “man” pharmacist. Many customers would leave rather than have a female help them (that was usually because they wanted to buy condoms which were kept behind the counter!).
Since there were few women pharmacists older than me, most of my mentors were men. However, I attended many pharmacy meetings which afforded me the opportunity to meet many women who were “firsts” and pioneers in pharmacy who then became my mentors. To name a few: Marjorie Coghill, Metta Lou Henderson, Joy Donaldson, Gloria Francke (first female to receive the Remington Honor Medal), Mary Lou Andersen (first female Speaker of APhA House of Delegates among other firsts), Evelyn Timmons (first female president of ACA), Mary Munson Runge (first female president of APhA), Hazel Pipkin (first female president of Texas Pharmacy Association) and many others. Without these women and the trails they blazed, many of us women would never have reached the leadership positions that we have enjoyed through the years.
So on behalf of the American College of Apothecaries and the American College of Veterinary Pharmacists, I want to say “Thank You” to the women pharmacists who came before me and helped pave the way, to the women pharmacists who supported me in pharmacy school and the early years of my practice, to the women pharmacists who work tirelessly everyday to help improve their patients’ health and the health of our communities, to the women pharmacists who serve on the board, committees, and faculty of the American College of Apothecaries and the American College of Veterinary Pharmacists, and to the pharmacy students who will be the women pharmacists of the future.
Susan Bartlemay, RPh, FACA, FAPhA
Executive Vice President
American College of Apothecaries | American College of Veterinary Pharmacists