By Michael Shaaw, clinical pharmacist at CHOC
When most people think about what their pharmacists do at the pharmacy, the first thing that comes to mind might be counting pills. Yes, that is one responsibility of our job, but since pharmacists are one of the most accessible healthcare professional out in the community, here are five facts you might want to know about what we do so that you will be able to get the most out of your encounter with your pharmacist.
It takes a lot of schooling to become a pharmacist
In order to become a pharmacist, one typically would spend about six to eight years in school, including undergraduate course work and obtaining a doctoral degree in pharmacy. In the recent years, many pharmacy school graduates spend an extra one to two years undergoing residency or fellowship training in subspecialty areas such as critical care medicine, emergency medicine, pediatric, geriatric or oncology.
Pharmacists offer many other services beside dispensing your prescription
Aside from filling your prescriptions, a pharmacist can also administer immunizations such as flu vaccines, shingles, and travel vaccines. We can provide medication counseling and medication therapy management to help you better understand and be informed about the medicines that you’re taking in order to better manage your condition. You can also ask a pharmacist for recommendations on over-the-counter products, as well as smoking cessation and other chronic disease monitoring services such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Pharmacists do a lot more than just counting pills
When a pharmacist receives a prescription, he or she will check for any allergy or drug interaction that could potentially do you harm. The pharmacist also makes sure that the dose of the prescribed medicine is appropriate for the stated indication, and raises any concerns to the prescribing physician and provide recommendations when appropriate.
There are pharmacists working in different settings other than retail stores or hospitals
Aside from working in retail or hospital settings, many pharmacists also work in areas such as academia, public health, government, pharmaceutical research, informatics, and managed care. They utilize their knowledge in pharmacology and medicine to further advance our healthcare system.
Pharmacists can save you money
Although pharmacists cannot change your copay set forth by the insurance company, most of the time they can recommend you other medication that’s similar to the one prescribed to you but at a lower cost (such as suggesting a suitable generic in place of a brand name medication). Pharmacists can also provide information about rebates and other cost-saving tips to help lower the cost of the medication