|dc.description.abstract||Military pharmacy is a niche subset of the wider pharmacy profession. As a small component of the armed forces, the role encompasses unique military requirements beyond usual pharmacy practice. This thesis analyses the role and experience of New Zealand and Australian pharmacists who served as pharmacists during World War I (WWI), rather than as soldiers in combatant units. This history of the pharmacists of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) also provides a window into a little-recognised sector of the armed forces: supply and support. It argues that the role expectations of military pharmacists did not align with those of other serving health practitioners during the war, and that these disparities had their genesis in professional and social tensions within the civilian sphere.
Historically, pharmacists have served as unseen or ‘silent’ specialist health professionals within military contexts. In this thesis, I consider social and cultural factors that shaped the wartime expectations of ANZAC military pharmacists throughout WWI. In particular, I examine the ‘invisibility’ of pharmacy, alongside perceptions of professionalism, educational pathway differences between pharmacists and other health practitioners, and the impact of social class and status on military rank. This analysis is based primarily on military and pharmacy records for WWI, together with period publications. A detailed database created for this thesis of all New Zealanders who served as pharmacists during the war provides case studies and conclusions to support the thesis.
In particular, I argue that the military’s position on the role and status of pharmacists derived mainly from the perception that they were ‘in trade’. This sensibility was problematic. Perceived mainly as purveyors of medicinal commodities, the role of pharmacists in maintaining the fighting strength of ANZAC forces was rarely appreciated, either during the conflict or in subsequent accounts. The supply of medicines and therapeutics as medical commodities is, however, intrinsically tied to the economics of war, which proved to be a growing concern as the conflict wore on. While New Zealand pharmacists were proscribed in their aspirations for advancement, I demonstrate that Australian pharmacists were most valued for their business skills, especially in supply, contracting, inventory control and cost savings.
Throughout WWI, the professional skills and knowledge offered by New Zealand pharmacists was not recognised through granting of commissioned rank. In Australia, honorary commissions were only granted to pharmacists later in the war, primarily for logistical and managerial roles. By being ‘in trade’, pharmacists were considered to be of the wrong social class; military structure at the time largely reserved officer status for social or professional élites. Social assets were at least as important as merit for progression through the ranks. The drive for professional recognition through the granting of commissioned rank became the dominant political issue facing New Zealand and Australian military pharmacists, shaping their experiences throughout the war. Examining the underpinning cultural and social factors is thus key to understanding the marginalisation of pharmacists within the military framework.||