15 Minutes: From Apothecary to Pharmacist

The Premise

I love history. For those that follow me on this blog, many would comment that I primarily write about the use of technology and how it may impact the healthcare environment and the pharmacy profession at large. That being the case, I often like to think where my profession came from. Pharmacist, Druggist, Chemist, Apothecary, all are names the profession to one degree or another has had in the past century. 

When I go to the book store, or browse the medical literature section, I see books written in multiple other professions on their rich history. While searching through Amazon, I come across very little. Some titles I've seen include the following:

So, needless to say, most of these are either very historical readings or pictorial graphics. I would like to embark on a project that would document key moments in the development of the modern pharmacy program. I aim not aiming to make a history book, but rather a nonfiction reading that covers some key moments in the past few centuries of this profession, and deliver it for the public to read and understand. My target audience would be the general public, and not necessarily as a supplemental historical book for pharmacy education. I want something more accessible.

For me, this is perhaps a personal soul-searching process. The profession of pharmacy is undergoing some large developments, and I am not to sure where things will end up. The pursuit of provider status, the changing roles of pharmacists in the community, rapid drug development, technological advances will ultimately change the face of medicine, and pharmacy practice within my lifetime. If anything else, I want to see where we came from, what we are, and where we are trying to go.

The Title

So, why "15 Minutes: Apothecary to Pharmacist" some may ask, and others I am sure may snigger at as they can probably guess what I am alluding to. The fifteen minute wait in most pharmacies is something I think most readers and patients in this country can relate to and understand. But the question for me is, how did it come to this? I think that is one of the questions I really want to answer.

The Process

I have never written anything to this extent before. Yes, I've published papers, short reports, e-books, but nothing to this extent and such a singular nature. I am curious if my previous work will help me in this process, or be a hindrance. I am hoping to work on my writing style as well. I have an idea of where to start, and databases to mine and such, but I feel this is only going to get me so far. So going forward, there are a few things I think I will need, and I would like your help if you have an interest in this project.


Do you happen to have any stories related to your experiences in pharmacy? I would be really keen on anything related to practice in the past century, especially if you worked or worked with individuals who were 'old-schooled.' Maybe you have a newspaper article or other work that you would want to share, please feel free to send it my way.


Do you have any images or handouts or other visual material (e.g. ads, prints) that may be of interest, and willing to share with me? I feel this may be a good way to see what things were like in the past, even if you have images of pharmacy and pharmacists/apothecary/druggist/chemist in the workplace. I would greatly appreciate it.

Your Thoughts

What would you like to see written about? What questions do you have about the pharmacy profession you would like to see explored? I think this would help me drive the story along better. If you have any recommendations on things I should read, or data repositories, libraries, etc I should visit pleas do so!

Some Questions I want to Answer

Over the course of this project, and discussing with others, some questions have popped up I want to try to solve (this is a working list and will be added onto):

  • What were the job limits and descriptions of the profession over time?
  • When did the white coat come into being?
  • When did it really switch from compounding to dispensing bulk drugs?
  • What was the atmosphere of early pharmacies?
  • What media presence has the profession held?

Going Foward

Depending on the feedback I receive and interest, I may start blogging about the process, or using this page as an amalgamation of sorts related to things I find out questions I may pose to the public. Also, let me know if you think this is a topic of interest or other areas to concentrate upon, or if you think this has all been done before and I have very little to add and should stop now before I get in over my head. I thank you for your time, and hope to hear from you!