Begin typing your search...

Using 'Dr' prefix by Pharm D grads can create confusion among patients

It is desirable that there should be some change in the tag for Pharm D graduates to distinguish them from the medical doctors

Using ‘Dr’ prefix by Pharm D grads can create confusion among patients
X

Using ‘Dr’ prefix by Pharm D grads can create confusion among patients

  • Whatsapp
  • Telegram
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • koo
  • Whatsapp
  • Telegram
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • koo
  • Whatsapp
  • Telegram
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • koo

The issue of prefixing of 'Dr' tag before the names of the Pharm D graduates has periodically been hitting the headlines for the last some years without any lasting solution to the issue. The Pharm D gruaduates have been making demands which include maintenance of separate register for Pharm D containing their names with 'Dr' prefix, issuance of 'registered clinical pharmacy practitioner' certificate to Pharm D pass-outs, and starting centralized Pharm D admission process

The 'Doctor of Pharmacy' (Pharm D) graduates in the country have recently sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention for finding a lasting solution to the issue of prefixing of 'Dr' tag before the names of the Pharm D graduates. The issue of prefixing of 'Dr' tag before the names of the Pharm D graduates has periodically been hitting the headlines for the last some years without any lasting solution to the issue. The Pharm D gruaduates have been making demands which include maintenance of separate register for Pharm D containing their names with 'Dr' prefix, issuance of 'registered clinical pharmacy practitioner' certificate to Pharm D pass-outs, and starting centralized Pharm D admission process.

To justify their demand for a separate register for Pharm D pass-outs and issuance of clinical pharmacy practitioner certificate to Pharm D pass-outs bearing 'Dr' prefix, the Pharm D graduates argue that since Pharm D is a doctoral programme, the nomenclature of their services should be registered clinical pharmacy practitioners instead of registered pharmacist. They further demand that the country's pharmacy education regulator, the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) should circulate an order directing all state pharmacy councils to maintain a separate register for Pharm D graduates, to be registered as registered clinical pharmacy practitioners.

PCI should direct all state pharmacy councils to enter the names of the Pharm D holder into the register-roll with 'Dr' prefix and issue a certificate as registered clinical pharmacy practitioner. In support of their demands, a large number of pharmacy professionals observed a five-day long hunger strike in front of the PCI office in New Delhi from August 1-5, 2022.

The PCI introduced the Pharm D program in the country with much fanfare in 2008 with the main objective of imparting the necessary training and skill to undertake pharmacy practice in the field of patient care. The curriculum was designed to produce clinically competent pharmacists who can assume expanded responsibilities in patient care and assure the provision of rational drug therapy.

The government introduced this 6-year course as the role of a pharmacist has been undergoing major changes world over in the wake of notable progress made by the pharmaceutical science and education. A pharmacist is a vital link in the physician-patient chain and he is expected to play a key role in the dissemination of pharmaceutical knowledge. In India, although pharmaceutical industry has advanced over the last more than three decades, the pharmacist continues to be a salesman in a retail pharmacy. The Pharm D was introduced in such a background to change this image by raising the standards of pharmacy education to produce world class pharmacists. At present, over 230 colleges are offering Pharm D program and the number of graduates is increasing every year. Ever since the first batch of the Pharm D students passed out of the institutions, the Dr tag issue has been hitting the headlines.

In fact, the issue caught the attention of the PCI also as prefixing of Dr before the names of Pharm D passed out students was a decision taken by the PCI way back in 2012 before the first batch of the Pharm D course came out. The council had earlier intimated its decision to all the universities approved by the PCI under Section 12 (2) of the Pharmacy Act 1948 to conduct examinations for Pharm D to use the prefix Dr before the names of passed out students while awarding certificates under Regulation 18 of the Pharm D Regulations 2008.

In fact, the PCI had earlier written to all the private and government universities about its decision, but only some private varsities have been following it as there was stiff opposition from the medical fraternity in the country. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) argued that as per the judgments and rulings of the apex court, the pharmacists cannot use 'Dr' prefix with their names. There are different streams in the healthcare system like medical stream, nursing stream, pharmacy stream and physiotherapy stream. The IMA contends that the students of Pharm D are coming through the pharmacy stream and not through the medical stream and only professionals of the medical stream are eligible to use the prefix 'Dr' before their names.

The IMA has also stated that PCI does not have the mandate to direct the universities to use the word 'Doctoral' in the nomenclature of the programme or to advise the varsities to write 'Dr' prefix before the names of the Pharm D graduates. As arguments and counter-arguments fly thick and fast, the fact remains that there is some merit in the arguments of IMA as there cannot be the same tag for both the medical and Pharm D graduates. It is desirable that there should be some change in the tag for Pharm D graduates to distinguish them from the medical doctors to avoid confusion among the patients.

(The author is a freelance journalist with varied experience in different fields)

Sreeja Ramesh
Next Story
Share it