While I could not have known it at the time, the seeds for this book were sown the moment I decided to leave my career as a high school social studies teacher. Having already experienced what felt like a false start, I made it my personal mission as a pharmacy student to learn as much as possible about this profession. In search of a career path that would sustain me, I read every book I could and met with a dizzying number of pharmacists doing things I had no idea pharmacists did.
This process taught me incredible lessons. First, the profession of pharmacy is expansive. This book highlights a piece of that expanse, but certainly does not cover it all. Second, pharmacists’ knowledge and expertise generate unbelievable value for society. Medications are the most widely used tool in healthcare, with a projected 5 billion prescriptions soon to be filled annually in the United States alone. The ubiquity of medications is perhaps only matched by the dangers their inappropriate or suboptimal use pose, which pharmacists are uniquely qualified to mitigate. Lastly, pharmacy is in the midst of a major transformation. For most of our history, pharmacists have practiced in siloes, often isolated from the work of other health professionals. Such isolation is slowly becoming a relic of the past as the value of pharmacists’ contributions to interprofessional teams is becoming readily apparent.
A primary goal of this book is to expose current and prospective pharmacy students to these lessons, with the hope that doing so early in their careers will help them achieve their goals and fulfill their potential. If this book prevents a single career U-turn akin to mine, I would consider it a success. It would be even better if a prospective student who had written off pharmacy based on commonly held misperceptions was inspired by this book to become a pharmacist. Perhaps best of all would be if educators in other health professions use this book to teach their students about the work and value of pharmacists. This would accelerate the already rapid trend of incorporating pharmacists into healthcare teams.
To appreciate fully the impact of interprofessional practice in pharmacy, one must not only see it, but also be able to contextualize it. Hence, this book combines visual and written strategies. Each chapter opens with a general background of a particular topic or area of pharmacy practice, which includes a description of pharmacists’ roles, other health professionals with whom they collaborate, and real-world examples of pharmacists in action. Next, illustrated case studies inspired by graphic novels and comic strips—but by no means funny—dig deeper into specific areas or issues. Characters communicate through dialogue boxes with inner ruminations displayed as thought bubbles, and clues embedded throughout facilitate engagement with the material. A detailed essay follows each illustrated case study, filling in holes and highlighting knowledge and skills required for pharmacists to succeed in each area.
This book would not have been possible without the strong support of several key individuals. Chief among these is my wife, Liz, who encouraged me to pursue this idea and single-handedly held down the fort to create the time and space needed to bring the book to life, much of which took place during a quarantine. That is a debt I doubt I will be able to repay. Without the support of Michael Weitz and Peter Boyle at McGraw Hill, and Steve Swanson at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, this project would still be sitting as an archived art exhibit somewhere in the bowels of Rennebohm Hall. As it relates to the art, George Folz masterfully breathed life and emotion into the characters and worlds envisioned. Of course, a book like this is only possible when lots of smart people pull together in the same direction; that said, I am grateful for the hard work and persistence of all contributors. Finally, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the efforts of our reviewers, whose constructive criticisms and advice significantly improved the book.
Joseph A. Zorek
San Antonio, Texas, November 2020