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National Pharmacist Day

January 12th celebrates National Pharmacist Day! This is a day that honors pharmacists across different specialties and in every setting by recognizing the impact they have in healthcare. Traditionally, a white-coat-wearing healthcare professional may come to mind when thinking of a pharmacist, but their role in the patient journey extends well beyond filling prescriptions. As vital members of the medical care team, pharmacists consistently make a difference in their patients’ lives.

Not only are we celebrating pharmacists all across the country, we would like to spotlight one of First Nation Group’s very own pharmacists, John M. Dischert! John is the Director of Business Development and Regulatory Affairs for First Nation Pharmaceuticals, as well as a licensed pharmacist. We wanted to hear more about John’s experience and how his work as a pharmacist has translated into his work with First Nation Pharmaceuticals. Check out the below Q+A to learn more about John!

Why did you choose a career as a pharmacist? What were your driving factors?
I chose to be a Pharmacist for several reasons, most of which were related to the mentors I had very early in my Navy career. The original interest was from grade school, but I thought I hated chemistry at the time. I figured out in college that I really enjoyed it and it came natural to me. While developing as a new pharmacy technician in the Navy, I really enjoyed the hustle of the work, the people I worked with, and then developed a passion for helping patients with their medications.

What is the most critical aspect of a pharmacist’s job from a business perspective?
Tough question! Most pharmacists would likely say that keeping inventory control is the primary aspect. However, once you learn the factors that drive reimbursement for services from insurance; how distribution, programs like 340B, and formulary affect the bottom line; and how these are all entwined, perspectives change and the pharmacy business world takes on a whole new look.

What is the most critical aspect of a pharmacist’s job from a military perspective?
Whether you are in the military or not, the most critical aspect of being a pharmacist is knowing how to take care of people. First, as with any career, you have to take care of yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally – if you aren’t a well-balanced individual it is really tough to take care of anyone else. Second is taking care of the people around you – my technicians were always my focus when I walked into a pharmacy. Last, but not least, and the reason we come to work, is taking care of the patient.

How has your experience as a pharmacist contributed to your current roles as Director of Business Development + Regulatory Affairs for First Nation Group’s Pharmaceutical Division?
I think I had an innate sense of how the business of pharmacy worked very early on. I understood how the formulary affected the dollars spent very early as a technician. That later developed into understanding contracting precedence within the Military Health System. Furthermore, I have always had a desire to know the “why” to every process and aspect of the business, practice, and regulations that mold the world of pharmacy and the pharmaceutical industry. And, I would be remiss if I did not mention that being in the right place at the right time didn’t have something to do with it too. My last tour on active duty, working at Defense Logistics Agency in the Customer Pharmacy Operations Center, gave me great insight into the industry where I met and worked with many seasoned professionals. That is where I met one of my best professional mentors in Stephen Flannery. And, after a few years of retirement and some magic sprinkled in, I am blessed to be working with Steve again continuing my passion and being part of the fantastic team and wonderful family of First Nation Group!

What is the biggest challenge the pharmacy community is facing?
If you ask this question of 100 pharmacists, you’ll likely get 100 different answers, and I think that drives one primary underlying issue of consensus and direction within the profession. If I had to pinpoint one key issue, I would say reimbursement for services. The profession has made great strides in the past 20 years in being recognized as  Healthcare Providers that qualify for reimbursement of services other than dispensing medications and counseling patients on their prescriptions. For example, less than 20 years ago, you could not get a flu shot from a pharmacist covered under insurance. But the knowledge and application that pharmacists have is much farther reaching than flu shots, and the profession is slowly working towards being recognized for many more services that will greatly increase access to healthcare for many, many people throughout the country.

What general pharmacy recommendations would you share with Veterans, active-duty military members, or military families when it comes to prescriptions or over-the-counter (OTC) medications?
Very simply stated – ask your Pharmacist and/or Pharmacy Technician. With the internet comes great awareness, which is great, but there is also more misinformation on the internet and amongst non-medical groups of people. Please don’t assume that the story ends with what is printed on a label or package.   

First Nation Group would like to extend a BIG thank you to John and pharmacists everywhere for the impact they have and continue to have on our health and wellbeing!