Pharmacy

How Television Depicts Pharmacists – Do They Get It Right?

2 months ago  •  Add Comment  •  by Donna Bliss

In the television shows you watch every day there are so many scenes about doctors, lawyers, policemen, government officials, chefs, even dancers.  But what about pharmacists? They form such an important part of the health care community but they’re almost never shown on television.

Pharmacists on Television

On the rare occasion you do see a pharmacist on your favorite TV show, they’re either an auxiliary character or they’re depicted as corrupt drug peddlers:

  • On Family Guy, the pharmacist Mort is depicted as someone who is nervous, awkward and doesn’t care about patient confidentiality.
  • On Modern Family, a pharmacist is mentioned briefly, for such a short period you might not notice him.
  • On Two and a Half Men the pharmacist has a complete disregard for the law and is happy to give prescription medication to patients with out a prescription. 
  • On House MD the pharmacists are only there to fill prescriptions, often providing the wrong medication.

And what about all the other medical shows like Greys Anatomy? They don’t even show pharmacists unless they’re making a mistake.

Pharmacists in Reality

The way pharmacists are depicted on television is inaccurate. In reality, they’re trusted and important members of the healthcare profession. Over the last five years pharmacists have been consistently ranked in the top three most respected professions.

Patient Confidentiality

As with all other sectors of the health care community, pharmacists take the Hippocratic oath. For those who don’t know this serves to protect the patient’s rights, whether it be to autonomy, the right to make decisions about your own health, or patient confidentiality. It’s illegal for a pharmacist to expose any of your details, whether it’s simply your name, or the embarrassing illness you’re suffering from.

This goes against what was shown in Family Guy where the pharmacist happily told all the children about the embarrassing and deeply personal ailments of their friends & parents. In reality, a pharmacist would never do this.

Final Thoughts

Becoming a pharmacist requires an intensive degree where the chemicals and modes of action of all the drugs are studied extensively. It’s not for the faint hearted. Pharmacists are intelligent and resourceful people who have your health as a priority.

Over 60% of pharmacists say they’re portrayed negatively on television and who can disagree? From being seen as drug dealers to bumbling idiots, it’s not an accurate representation. Pharmacists are widely trusted health care professionals. They’re also the first line of contact when you have a health problem. The first person you talk to when something is wrong is your local pharmacist, to get some over the counter medication.

The way pharmacists are portrayed can create a negative opinion about them, especially for people who haven’t interacted with pharmacists before. This is something Hollywood really needs to look at because pharmacists are the backbone of the health care community.

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