Compatibility of Professional Success and Satisfaction

Reverend Sisters, honored guests, officers and members of the American Society of Hospital Pharmacists, fellow pharmacists, ladies, and gentlemen: To tell you that you have honored me today beyond my fondest expectations would be a grave understatement. To say that I cherish this honor above all others would be a gross misrepresentation of my true feelings this day. Accordingly, do not misinterpret my next remark as being false humility: I can assure you that our Society is composed of individuals so much more worthy of this Award, and, incidentally, I recall this as my initial feeling and first impression at being notified of the Award.

For just a moment, allow me the privilege of indulging in the satisfaction of examining the significance of this cherished Award to me. First, it is awarded by a committee composed of past recipients of the Award. Imagine, young pharmacists, imagine the hall of fame of hospital pharmacy that the individuals of this committee represent: the Franckes, the Bowles, the Flacks, the Fraziers, the Scotts; what glorious company to find yourself in.

Second, and possibly most important to me, is the fact that this award is given in honor of an old and cherished friend of mine, Harvey A. K. Whitney. Some of my fondest memories date back to the days when a vigorous, young pharmacist from Ann Arbor and I exchanged ideas on vague and unheard-of pharmacy practices, which we also disseminated in a one-sheet newsletter then called The Bulletin.

As you know, the recipient of the Harvey A. K. Whitney Lecture Award delivers a lecture which is intended to provide hospital pharmacists with a message or an idea which is meaningful and significant. This assignment was a much easier one to carry out several years ago, because today we have so many fine leaders in hospital pharmacy who, incidentally, never cease to amaze me with their vision and their ability to say things which stimulate other hospital pharmacists everywhere. Originality of thought was, therefore, somewhat of a stumbling block for me in preparing my remarks for this evening.

In somewhat of a reflective mood, I recall some of the events in my career in hospital pharmacy, and I quickly come to the conclusion that I am really quite a lucky man. “Why lucky?” you may ask. In a nutshell, I have been granted the things that have made a man’s life enjoyable and rewarding: a loving family, a respected and honorable profession, and a feeling of success and accomplishment. All these are gifts that God has granted me. I am especially lucky because I have enjoyed professional satisfaction and the success of family and community life.

Consequently, it is extremely distressing for me to overhear a fledgling pharmacist remark, “Yes, Mr. Lauve, I’d like to practice professional pharmacy and utilize all my scientific training, but you cannot do that and be a success at the same time.” In effect, he is saying that a pharmacist cannot enjoy professional satisfaction and be a success at the same time. How wrong he is, how narrow his vision, how misguided this unimaginative and unfortunate newcomer. To dissuade young pharmacists from the frustration, disillusion, and emptiness which oftentimes accompany material success alone, I usually preach a sermon which I entitle “The Compatibility of Professional Success and Satisfaction.” It is really a simple sermon based on a simple doctrine. It goes like this: The past, the present, and the future success of pharmacy is dependent on the degree to which its practitioners utilize the unique characteristics which underlie and identify it. I refer specifically to the pharmacist’s emphasis on the bulk formulation of pharmaceutical dosage forms, which may or may not be available from any other source. During recent years, I have had the feeling that I was preaching an outmoded doctrine—one contrary to the common opinion that manufacturing is a fast-disappearing aspect of a pharmacist’s activity. Recently, however, a statement in Mirror to Hospital Pharmacy renewed my confidence in this doctrine by stating:

The pharmacist who engages in manufacturing uses areas of scientific knowledge quite different from those used for dispensing and compounding. In fact, isn’t it true that manufacturing and control are the only areas of professional practice which give the pharmacist an opportunity to use, to any significant extent, the large body of knowledge based on the physical sciences as applied particularly to pharmacy? If this is true, then must not hospital pharmacy chart a course which encourages manufacturing? This is an important question. A profession can’t continue to be a profession unless a significant proportion of its practitioners utilize the knowledge and skill which underlie it.

I have attempted to live by this doctrine in my professional life; and if I am judged a successful hospital pharmacist, then my success is a result of practicing the doctrine referred to. Looking back over the years, I can honestly say that were it not for this doctrine, Albert Lauve would not be here today. The desire and willingness to utilize formulation skills in the daily practice of our specialty have immeasurably contributed to providing us with the respect and admiration of the medical staffs of two institutions in which I have practiced. Furthermore, each time that I meet an old friend in medicine, we recall the challenge of developing together a drug formulation which many times was instrumental in successfully treating a patient. The product desired was usually brought to me in the form of an idea, incomplete and desperately in need of the skillful and creative development of a professional pharmacist.

Perhaps you would be interested in some of my earlier experiences which illustrate the close relationship of professional satisfaction and success.

My first experience with intravenous medication began in 1913 with the introduction of arsphenamine, commonly known as Salvarsan. This preparation was developed in 1910 by Ehrlich, after a long series of experiments, as a specific for syphilis. The preparation had to be freshly prepared. It was an acid salt and had to be neutralized before administration. Some of the doctors wanted to try this new specific for the treatment of syphilis, but there were no hospitals in the immediate vicinity where we could have access to an autoclave and distilled water—essential equipment for this kind of work. So we bought a small water still, an Arnold type of sterilizer, and a few Erlenmeyer flasks. We were ready for business. The arsphenamine was dissolved in 50 ml of sterile water and neutralized with 15% sodium hydroxide. No indicator was needed to determine the end point. The first drop of sodium hydroxide turned the arsphenamine very cloudy and we continued, drop by drop, until the solution turned to a golden yellow. The solution was then diluted to 250 ml with normal saline, taken to the doctor’s office, and administered immediately. Crude as this method might seem, we administered over 200 doses without a single adverse reaction.

This is just one of countless numbers of examples that illustrate the dependence of professional success on our distinct and unique abilities. Even today, our department is called upon so much more to provide this essential aspect of our service.

The future holds even more success for the imaginative, creative, and astute hospital pharmacist. As in the past and as of present, this success will be firmly based on the foundation of the doctrine of formulation. We speak of unit dose dispensing, for example, and is it not true that the most challenging aspect of this contemporary concept lies in the compatibility and stability of medicaments in unique and possibly untried packaging materials? And who are the pioneers in this area? Hospital pharmacists with deep interest in formulation and control skills.

We speak of drug information centers as intimately a part of pharmacy service. Is it not true that a commonly posed question, but a difficult question to answer, involves the compatibility of injectable mixtures of medications? Again, the answer to the problem is based on the pharmacist’s unique knowledge of the physical sciences as applied to pharmacy.

Young pharmacists, take heed. My years offer me the protection of experience, but they also offer me the fruits of observation and retrospect. Society recognizes the contributions our profession has made and continues to make. It wants more of the same. Do not be overly concerned or tempted to cast aside the enduring rewards of professional satisfaction for the temporary and fleeting pleasure of material rewards. A close examination of the professional lives and accomplishments of the past recipients of the Harvey A. K. Whitney Lecture Award dramatically reveals the remarkable way in which success always seems to accompany professional satisfaction— satisfaction which in itself can only be obtained from a practice based on professional uniqueness.

Heed the doctrine which has permitted one Albert Lauve to receive an honor which, again, exemplifies the compatibility of professional success and satisfaction.


Any references cited in this lecture are available in the PDF version.

Originally published in Am J Hosp Pharm.1963; 30:314-20.
© 1964, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc. All rights reserved.
Posted with permission.