A Historical Discourse Analysis of Pharmacist Identity in Pharmacy Education

Jamie Kellar*, Elise Paradis, Cees P. M. van der Vleuten, Mirjam G. A. Oude Egbrink, Zubin Austin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Objective. To determine the discourses on professional identity in pharmacy education over the last century in North America and which one(s) currently dominate.

Methods. A Foucauldian critical discourse analysis using archival resources from the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education (AJPE) and commissioned education reports was used to expose the identity discourses in pharmacy education.

Results. This study identified five prominent identity discourses in the pharmacy education literature: apothecary, dispenser, merchandiser, expert advisor, and health care provider. Each discourse constructs the pharmacist's professional identity in different ways and makes possible certain language, subjects, and objects. The health care provider discourse currently dominates the literature. However, an unexpected finding of this study was that the discourses identified did not shift clearly over time, but rather piled up, resulting in students being exposed to incompatible identities.

Conclusion. This study illustrates that pharmacist identity constructs are not simple, self-evident, or progressive. In exposing students to incompatible identity discourses, pharmacy education may be unintentionally impacting the formation of a strong, unified healthcare provider identity, which may impact widespread practice change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7864
Pages (from-to)1251-1258
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Pharmaceutical Education
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


  • professional identity
  • pharmacy
  • pharmacy practice
  • pharmacy education
  • Focauldian discourse analysis

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