Emergency Medicine Pharmacists – A Rally Call

I revisit this post from time to time. Right now, it’s time to revisit it again. At a critical time in history, EM pharmacists need a rallying call to pull together and do what we do best.


There’s an analogy I like to make that helps identify the role of the pharmacist in the hospital and in the emergency department. However, the analogy does require prerequisite knowledge of American football. If you think of the medical professionals working in the emergency department as the players on a football team, the physicians are quarterbacks, nurses are the receivers and running backs and PA’s and NP’s are tight ends. But pharmacy, we’re the offensive line.  When everyone is doing their job well; you’d never know we existed.

But without everyone working together as a team, the quarterback gets sacked, the receivers can’t get open, and the running backs get tackled behind the line of scrimmage – medication delays and errors happen.

As pharmacists, we must do our part to ensure that patients get the right drug, at the right dose, at the right time. We accomplish this through verification, preparation, compounding, dispensing, administration and monitoring. When we do our job, physicians can narrow their differential, and nurses can assess and provide directed drug therapy and patient care without having to guess. It allows others to do their jobs better. If we don’t do our job, the risk of harm would jump because others would have to step in to fill our role.  It’s what would happen if Tom Brady tries to block Aaron Donald: the outcome is going to be bad.

Three of the best pharmacists I’ve ever met trained me to be an emergency medicine pharmacist. In the emergency department, we remember our role as pharmacists: ensuring that patients get the right drug, at the right dose, at the right time.  That goes for all patients including trauma alerts, MIs, intubations, resuscitations, and the list goes on.  We’re at the bedside anticipating physician orders to make sure the right drug is being used at the right dose and prepared appropriately.  We don’t save the patients, and we won’t ever get the same attention the quarterback does, but that’s ok. I’m proud to be a pharmacist.

Not getting attention comes with the job but when the team wins – when we can deliver the best possible care to the patient – we win too.

Emergency Medicine Pharmacists – A Rally Call