You probably have interacted with a pharmacist quite often throughout life, Still, many people don’t quite understand their background, training and what their job entails. A greater understanding can help you get the most from your pharmacy service .
A pharmacist is licensed to prepare and dispense medications to patients. This is performed by electronic or written prescription. The orders come from a licensed practitioner like a physician, dentist, advanced nurse practitioner or doctor’s assistant.
A pharmacist is much more than a person who counts out your pills. They’re a healthcare professional who gives advice and often consults with a licensed practitioner about dispensing and prescribing medications.
The primary responsibility of a pharmacist is to ensure that their patients receive safe and appropriate medication. When they receive an order for a prescription, they carefully review every aspect of it, including any inconsistencies in the drug before compounding and labeling the package correctly.
To understand everything about drugs and medications, how they react when taken together, and the side effects, pharmacists must complete a college-level education. The knowledge and experience they gather are shared with healthcare providers, nurses, doctors, and most of all, patients.
Read below to find out four things you may not have known about pharmacists and the pharmacy.
When you meet your pharmacist at your local pharmacy, they probably introduce themselves using their first name. But since 2004, pharmacists have been required to have a degree in pharmacy which technically means they’re doctors. They have to take exams and pass them to be certified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. It’s the only way they can be licensed to dispense medications in the US. Before 2004, pharmacists only needed a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy to work in the industry, but even then many went for their certification in Pharm.D. anyway.
To prevent adverse reactions and errors in medication therapy, pharmacists offer medication therapy management (MTM) through several safety surveillance programs. To achieve positive and therapeutic outcomes for patients, pharmacists are always improving the level of safeguards in place. They’re constantly creating better ways to ensure medication safety for their patients.
Some of the steps they take in this process include: critical review, identification and collection of data for medication safety, errors, and adverse event reporting procedures. The Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) is an additional safety net that many more pharmacists are adopting. This is a program that maximizes the balance between medication access and patient safety concerning biologics that could pose a safety risk for patients.
There are so many questions that a patient may have about the medications they’ve been prescribed. These can include: taking multiple medications at the same time, medication timing, adverse drug interactions and side effects. While issues like these can be confusing for the average person, medication therapy management is performed by pharmacists to answer any question the patient may have with complex drug protocols or chronic conditions. They can also be helpful patients dealing with multiple healthcare providers and high prescription costs.
According to the Center for Disease Control, MTM consists of five core components: medication therapy review, personal medication records, medication action plan, referral or intervention, and documentation and follow-up on all medications prescribed. MTM can also include any cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention where pharmacists can play a proactive role in advising patients on lifestyle changes and behavior modification, educating patients about medication therapy relating to CVD, identifying hypertension symptoms and offering blood pressure checks.
Pharmacists are accessible and trusted healthcare advisors, which makes them a useful resource in helping to increase the general public’s access to immunizations. Over the last two decades, pharmacists’ role in administering vaccinations have expanded. In 1995, only nine states allowed pharmacists to immunize patients. Now the authority to administer vaccinations has been given to pharmacists in all 50 states. That also includes Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.
This change allows pharmacists to coordinate with other healthcare providers and increase the rate of immunization for patients throughout their lifetimes. The extent of their authority varies from state to state but this is a huge step to national immunization for everyone.
Pharmacists can become board certified just like medical physicians. Documentation of any specialized experience for pharmacists provides additional skills and benefits to the healthcare continuum. Just like doctors, pharmacists can specialize in several specific areas of pharmacology. These specialities include: psychiatric, emergency medicine, critical care, solid organ transplantation, infectious diseases, geriatric, compounded sterile preparations, ambulatory, nutrition support, pediatric, pharmacotherapy and oncology.
When a pharmacist becomes a specialist, they become equipped to meet the needs of patients who may have complex medical issues. This allows them to take a more active role in their patient’s care which can help improve outcomes. Specialty pharmacists play a key part in every community across the country. By having multiple specialties, a pharmacist becomes a more visible leader in their community. They’re better at meeting the needs and helping to maintain the well-being of their patients as well as the underserved.
Pharmacists are important in helping patients achieve positive health outcomes during and after treatment. Nearly half of all patients with chronic diseases don’t take their medications as prescribed. By building strong relationships with patients, pharmacists can lower the rate of disease progression. This can help lead to fewer hospitalizations and fewer instances of poor medication management habits by patients. Over time, the services pharmacists provide help address and improve the overall health and wellness of everyone in the country.