How Pharmacists Can Help Patients

How Pharmacists Can Help Patients | Dr. Ali Ghahary

There are approximately 42,5000 licensed pharmacists working in over 10,000 pharmacies in Canada. These include both community pharmacies as well as hospitals, and other settings such as different organizations and associations, colleges and universities, and other pharmaceutical industry settings. Pharmacists are crucial as they collaborate with both physicians and patients, as well as the families of patients. While the main role of a pharmacist is to fill medications that have been prescribed to you by your physician, they’re also experts in teaching you how to properly administer and manage your medications, as well as have knowledge in management of chronic diseases, wellness, and even immunizations.

When it comes to pursuing a career in pharmacy there are many different options available, including retail careers, clinical careers, long-term care careers, nuclear careers, infusion and chemotherapy careers, and pharmaceutical benefit management careers. As a retail career, pharmacists are often found in places like drug stores. In clinical careers, pharmacists work closely alongside physicians, such as in hospital settings. In long-term care careers, pharmacists can be found in care homes for elderly or facilities for incapacitated individuals. In nuclear careers, pharmacists are responsible for the measuring and delivery of radioactive materials that are commonly used for different medical imaging tests, such as MRIs or CT scans. In infusion and chemotherapy careers, pharmacists are responsible for ensuring chemotherapy drugs are mixed accurately for cancer patients; and lastly, pharmaceutical benefit management careers, in which different corporations negotiate with different pharmaceutical companies to determine all of the coverage/reimbursement amounts for different health plans.

There’s also a difference between pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. Pharmacists play the biggest role as they’re responsible for what happens within the pharmacy itself. They’re not only responsible for providing patients with the medications in which they’re prescribed, but they also must ensure that the prescriptions are both legal and valid, as well as double-check all of the prescribed medications before they’re given to the patient. As a pharmacist, you have to pay extremely close attention to detail as things like incorrect medications or dosing instructions can lead to potentially harmful or life-threatening problems for the patient, and can result in serious consequences. When filling a medication, it is essential for patients to stick to the same pharmacy whenever possible so that the pharmacists can be aware of each medication you’re on and be aware of any potential allergies you have, or if there is any risk of drug interactions. Pharmacists are similar to physicians in the sense that they are well versed on many different medical topics, though you should always check with your physician if you have any concerns about your health. In addition, pharmacists also have the ability to provide patients with information on different over-the-counter, non-prescribed medications.

Pharmacy technicians are similar to pharmacists in that they can accept prescriptions from patients as well as help fill prescriptions. However, each prescription must always be double checked by a pharmacist. Once the prescription has been reviewed and it is made sure that the medication is labeled and packaged correctly, the pharmacy technician will be able to dispense the drug to the patient. In addition to filling medications, pharmacy techs also performer other duties such as tracking inventory, processing insurance claims, and performing administrative-related duties.

For more information on the role of a pharmacist or to find out how you can become a pharmacist yourself, visit the Canadian Pharmacists Association website at pharmacists.ca.