The practice of pharmaceutical care is new, in contrast to what pharmacists have been doing for years. Because pharmacists often fail to assume responsibility for this care, they may not adequately document, monitor and review the care given. Accepting such responsibility is essential to the practice of pharmaceutical care. In order to fulfill this obligation, the pharmacist needs to be able to assume many different functions.
The concept of the seven-star pharmacist, introduced by WHO and taken up by FIP in 2000 in its policy statement on Good Pharmacy Education Practice, sees the pharmacist as a caregiver, communicator, decision-maker, teacher, life-long learner, leader and manager. For the purposes of this handbook, we have added the role of researcher. The knowledge base of pharmacy graduates is changing. As these graduates move into practice, so pharmacy practice itself will change, to reflect the new knowledge base. However, pharmacists already in practice were mainly educated on the basis of the old paradigm of pharmaceutical product focus.
If these pharmacists are to contribute effectively to the new patient-centered pharmaceutical practice, they must have the opportunity to acquire the new knowledge and skills required for their new role. To do this they must become life-long learners, one of the roles of the new pharmacist. The pharmaceutical product should be seen not as an end in itself – as often emphasized in pharmaceutical education and practice – but rather as a means to an end. Where medicines are used for the greatest possible benefit of each individual patient and of society as a whole, this will result in improvements in health as well as cost savings. New pharmacists should have the knowledge and skills needed to take up their new role and responsibilities and to function as collaborative members of the health care team.