The Many Roles of Your Pharmacist in Your Health!

Posted on August 30, 2016 by kerri

Did you know that your pharmacist does a lot more than just fill your prescriptions for medication? While the responsibilities of pharmacists vary from state to state in the US (and province to province in Canada), pharmacists have special training to do a lot of things to help you manage your health. Here are just a few of the many roles of pharmacists

Patient Education

Not only do pharmacists have the skills to teach you about your medications, and are a great resource to ask about side effects or problems you may have with dosing your medications, they may also have special training to teach you about your medical condition, depending on their specialty. For example, pharmacists may be eligible to become certified asthma or diabetes educators.

Immunizations and Vaccines

Time for a flu shot and don’t want to wait around in your doctor’s office? Your pharmacist may have the skills to help! While I got my flu shot this year from my sports medicine doctor (who happens to be the dad of one of the kids I coach) in an equipment room at practice (…no joke), my friend and I swung by a convenient pharmacy to get his flu shot done this year. He was in and out in a matter of minutes, had to only wait about 5 minutes for his turn, and didn’t even need an appointment. Best of all, less people waiting for their shots—may help you avoid more germs if you’re more susceptible to infections due to your medical condition. For many of us, our increased susceptibility to the flu is why we rush to get our flu shots in the first place—we don’t need to add a crowded waiting room at a clinic to the mix!

Travel vaccines may also be available from your pharmacist, so it’s worthwhile to check in to see what they offer.

General Health Questions

Have a rash that is bugging you, or can’t tell if you’ve got allergies or a cold? Your pharmacist can help guide you through your symptoms, determine if you should see a doctor, and recommend an over-the-counter (non-prescription) medicine to help ease your symptoms.

Prescribing Certain Medications

In some places, certain common medicines can be prescribed by a pharmacist—or, if you are running low on one of your prescriptions, they may be able to provide you a short supply to buy time for your doctor to fax a prescription (say, over a weekend). Where I live, pharmacists can initiate prescription treatments for “minor” ailments or conditions, such as acne or athlete’s foot, as well as provide prescription smoking cessation medicines [1]. In Oregon, for example, women can get hormonal contraception (“The Pill”) from their pharmacist without first seeing their doctor [2], in Florida, prescription medicines used to combat gastrointestinal illnesses, such as vomiting and diarrhea, can be provided by a pharmacist, as well as smoking cessation drugs [3].

It is worth exploring what your pharmacist can offer, both in terms of managing chronic disease and treating—what my pharmacy’s phone recording calls—“minor ailments”.

Help With The Wording of Your Medical ID Bracelet or Necklace

So you’ve got a new My Identity Doc bracelet picked out or are eyeing up a necklace—you want to engrave the right thing. If you’ve forgotten to chat about wording with your doctor, give your pharmacist a call or visit. So long as they are aware of your medical condition(s), they can probably proof your text and make sure you’ve got the spelling right and you’re not missing anything. Remember, Burton the Shop Pup is super helpful, but he’s not a great speller—and his PhD just stands for “Perfectly Happy Dawg”! Since your pharmacist can even read your doctor’s writing, they are probably a great source to confirm what you should put on your bracelet!

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