American Pharmacists Month

pharmacy

This is a guest post from my cousin’s son Sean.  Sean has worked in a Pharmacy for most of his adult life and is now studying to be a pharmacist in Tennessee.  I have used him as a go to resource for “medical” questions many times.  It makes me happy to know that people I love are choosing careers that are helping others and they are passionate about.  Now if only we can get him to get his blog up to date…………

I would bet that most people who are reading this had no idea that October is American Pharmacists Month.  Unfortunately for pharmacists, this month coincides with a much more publicized cause: breast cancer awareness.  In no way am I trying to diminish the work of those aims, since they are extremely worthwhile and I support them whole-heartedly.  However, since pharmacy is my future profession, that cause means a lot to me, as well!

I am a first-year (P1) student at the Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee, and it has been a goal of mine to spread the word about the work of pharmacists during this month.  Since Adrienne so graciously asked me to write this guest post, I thought it would be an awesome idea to get the word out there!  In addition, I have devoted most of my social media footprint to promoting pharmacists, I’ve passed out flyers in the community, and even worn t-shirts that promote the good work of pharmacists.  So, as you can see, I am pretty passionate about what pharmacists do!

Many people might have a misconception about what it is that pharmacists actually do, so part of the aim for American Pharmacists Month is to clear up that notion.  The classic example of a pharmacist is a person in a white coat who sits behind a pharmacy counter putting pills in a bottle.  While dispensing medications to patients is still a significant part of a pharmacist’s job, there’s more to it than just counting out pills.  Having worked in a community (retail) pharmacy for several years, I can speak with some authority that filling a prescription can be complicated at times.  Balancing all the demands of our time with billing insurance, contacting physician offices for clarification or “prior authorizations” (which any of those in the health care field know all too well and hate with a passion), answering questions from customers, etc. can be daunting, but when it comes down to it, we all feel a calling to help our patients the best way we know how.  And I say “we” here because student pharmacists are part of the profession right now!

Since I’ve gone over a “traditional” role of the pharmacist, now I’d like to mention some roles that may not be as familiar to those who just see their neighborhood pharmacist once a month for their refills.  Did you know that pharmacists can give immunizations?  Right now is the peak season for receiving flu shots, and pharmacists everywhere are conveniently able to give them, in addition to a dozen others!  Did you know that pharmacists provide medication therapy management for their patients?  Pharmacists are the second most educated health providers (after physicians, of course), and as such, can help their patients manage dozens of disease processes from their pharmacies!  Did you know that in addition to dispensing prescriptions, your pharmacist can counsel you to ensure maximum efficacy of your medications?  The drug knowledge imparted to pharmacists is unparalleled, so pharmacists have the skills to ensure that you get the most out of the medications your physician prescribes!

sean  In addition to being superior health care professionals, pharmacists truly care about their patients.  I have personally experienced on a daily basis what pharmacists will do to make sure their patients get the care they need, and I’ve heard from others about their positive experiences with their pharmacists.  Some stories may be as seemingly simple as saving some money on a co-pay by working with the physician to change therapies, but saving money goes a long way in this day and age.  Other stories I’ve heard involve catching a drug interaction or allergy that may have been harmful or fatal had the pharmacist not intervened.  Still others involved just taking the time to listen and talk to a scared patient with a new diagnosis, or a grieving patient mourning the loss of a loved one.  Pharmacists are some of the most accessible professionals in your health care team, and we (I love saying “we!”) take that responsibility very seriously.

So as you can see, pharmacists are really extraordinary people, for these reasons and many more!  Maybe I’m a little biased since I am a future pharmacist and already involved in the profession, but I am a patient, too!  I know from experience that having a good relationship with your pharmacists improves the quality of your health care, and I encourage anyone who is reading this to build such a relationship.  I also encourage anyone who has a pharmacist story they want to share to comment on this blog, or you can contact me personally (monroesm@goldmail.etsu.edu).  One last encouraging word I have for all of you is to show your appreciation to your friendly neighborhood pharmacist during the last few days of this special month.  You may not think it will mean very much, but I can guarantee that you will make someone’s day!  And to all of those already in the profession (and all my fellow students/future pharmacists out there), Happy American Pharmacists Month 2013!

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Comments

  1. What a great insight into the world of pharmacists! I personally love mine and have shouted them out on twitter but now I think I should do it more often.

    • Sean Monroe says:

      Melanie, thank you so much for your comment! And thanks for your shout out on Twitter, too! It’s nice to hear when people have good relationships with their pharmacists. And I’m sure he or she appreciates your kind words as well!

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