From 2006 and the introduction of the six-year curriculum to become a pharmacist in Japan, there has been a push for increasing the skills of pharmacists. Currently, doctors in Japan work with pharmacists to help determine the best way to treat cancer patients with chemotherapy, e.g. which anti-cancer drug to use, how much to administer, and when to give it to the patient. Moreover, patients who get their chemotherapy prescriptions filled at community pharmacies are able to receive counseling on how to avoid adverse side effects and such pharmacist skills are truly invaluable. In fact, pharmacists play an invaluable role in society, more than one would normally consider, and preparing students for that role is very important. However, just having students study all the time is not enough. It is also important for us to help raise their awareness about what kind of pharmacist they wish to be in the future. And to help students, from their first year of studies, they are sent to clinical sites (hospitals, pharmacies, and nursing care facilities) to see first-hand the work of pharmacists. In general, the curriculum, even from the first year, has been strengthened to help raise students’ awareness to the various roles and strengths of pharmacists in society. While the six years of study to become a pharmacist are not easy, this is not a competition, but a wonderful opportunity for students to make new connections with others who have the same goals and to learn from one another. In short, the roles of pharmacists are evolving and we look forward to seeing graduates go out into society together and accomplishing great things.
Shigeyasu Motohashi Ph.D.
School of Pharmacy