USPHS Pharmacy: A Reason to be PHS Proud

history pharmacy

I recently created a U.S. Public Health Service challenge coin for pharmacists with a classic mortar and pestle design and the date 1930. What's so important about this date? 

Well, that is when the Parker Act was passed by congress which allowed regular Corps commissions for dentists, sanitary engineers, Hygenic Laboratory scientists, and...pharmacists! In other words, 1930 was the birth year of regular commissions for pharmacists.

The act was named after New York congressman James S. Parker and was originally introduced in 1926. After four years of revision it passed. It was a very important act not only for the commissioning of new categories in PHS but also because it:

- allowed the Surgeon General to assign officers to government agencies that needed public health leadership

- tied the pay of all commissioned officers to that of the Army

As an important side note, there was another act passed the same year that led to the expansion of the Hygienic Laboratory into the National Institutes of Health. I digress, back to pharmacy!

Before 1930, pharmacists that worked for PHS were civilians. There was one time in 1918 that pharmacists were allowed to commission as reserve officers due to the demands of World War I.

Public Health Service Reserve Corps Public Health Service Reserve Corps

Edwin M. Holt (first picture( and Edgar B. Scott (second picture) were the first two commissioned pharmacists in July of 1930 and another eight were commissioned in the following September. Geez, wouldn't that commissioning turn around time be nice?!

u.s. public health service pharmacistus public health service pharmacist

In a nutshell, that was the birth of USPHS Commissioned Corps pharmacy. USPHS pharmacists have arguably been the most influential in the profession through the years. I am biased, of course, given my training as a pharmacist in the PHS.

There are many notable Corps pharmacists and each deserve their own article; however, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the name of legendary CAPT George F. Archambault. He started off as a civilian pharmacist with the Coast Guard and then commissioned from 1945-1967. He was the first pharmacy branch chief for the PHS hospital division, is considered to be the father of consultant pharmacy, and has earned all of the highest awards and recognition in the field of pharmacy.

us public health service pharmacist

What USPHS pharmacy history do you like? Share in the comments below!


Images source: 

Donna Young, Public Health Service evolves to meet nation’s needs: Pharmacists play pivotal roles in PHS history, American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, Volume 63, Issue 3, 1 February 2006, Pages 194–197

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