Ok Im going to ignore the OPs question and state outright that pharmacists HAVE NO ROLE IN DIAGNOSIS and shouldnt have said role. In fact almost no pharmacist will disagree with this statement. Its not what we go to school for and we know what we are getting into.
However, I have a problem when pre-meds in this thread who know very little about the profession of pharmacy start saying things like pharmacists are irrelevant and people like you try to bring up examples of how pharmacists screw up. Yes, big surprise people screw up. But for example pharmacists at my 100 bed hospital dock THOUSANDS of interventions per year in which physician orders are altered. Do you know that that means? Doctors wrote orders that were no appropriate for whatever reason and needed to be changed.
So please dont try to pull out examples of pharmacists dispensing the wrong drug or whatever. I dont think anyone is going to deny that that happens. What I do have a problem with is people disparaging an entire profession based on random examples they pull off of google. Im sure if you searched doctor medication errors plenty of things can be found as well. For example why do residents keep writing Avelox orders for UTIs? Theres an example of a stupid doctor mistake for you. And that one isnt bad at all compared to more deadly mistakes that Ive seen written.
I used to want to be a pharmacist and have experience from a 2x summer pharmacy internship (I was the dude who counted/bottled) where I got the see first hand what was going on behind the counter. What do you base your thoughts on?
Most patients understand why they are on the medicines they are on and to expect side-effects. They are not always helpless individuals that need their hands held throughout the entire process.
Do you think your father (or any other theoretical person) doesn't know why he is on lipitor? I would bet he does.
People are not always dumb and play a much greater role in their healthcare than you think. I do clinical research and the post-operative patients I talk to are very aware of what they are taking and why they are taking it (for the most part).
My experience is based upon being a pharmacy student who will soon graduate and having worked a combined total of 10+ years at two hospital and one retail job. And tons of rotation hours as well.
In any case this is a silly discussion because we seem to be talking about different things. Patients are no doubt more involved in their medications nowadays and someone being prescribed Lipitor usually knows what its for. However the problem comes in when the computer doesnt give the technician any alerts about dispensing Lipitor, but then the patient ends up with rhabdomyolysis. And then the primary care provider who isnt really talking to the patient's cardiologist doesnt know why the kidneys are suddenly failing. What pharmacists can do is provide counseling for the patient receiving Lipitor and tell them that myopathy can be a rare side effect of the medication. That way that whole situation might be avoided without unnecessary treatment or switches in therapy that dont need to happen in the first place.
Thats just one example and you might say that a computer can tell the patient the side effects. Sure, in fact all patients get a print out of side effects with their meds. But how many people actually sit down and read through that? It has been shown that a pharmacist counseling a patient significantly increases compliance with medications and increases awareness of problematic side effects and how to deal with them.
In your experiences what you probably saw was a pharmacist who was too overworked by the large retail company which was too focused on filling prescriptions. But you shouldnt judge that pharmacist because of what his company expects of him, there is still much knowledge to be shared. Just as you shouldnt judge a doctor who is forced to see more and more patients because of declining Medicare reimbursement. Thats not a doctor who doesnt care about his patients, thats a doctor who is overworked and under-appreciated. Just like the pharmacist.
Also you need to recognize that retail is only a branch of what pharmacists are involved with. Other areas include hospital (and every specialty within), long-term care, ambulatory care, nuclear, and industry. (To name a few).
So while I do understand where you are coming from based on how companies expect pharmacists to work, you shouldnt be so quick to judge a profession as being irrelevant based on what you see.
/end silly ranting