Pharmacists are not simply “pill counters.”
Historically defined as, “a person licensed to prepare and dispense drugs and medicine,” a pharmacist means so much more to modern medical practice than those 10 words. Their expertise in pharmacology, or branch of biology concerned with the study of drug action, is integral to a patient’s health care and wellness.
March is “PAM” or Pharmacist Awareness Month across the country – the initiative helps celebrate and educate Canadians about the contributions that pharmacists make in the delivery of patient care.
“It’s a month that we make people aware of pharmacy, pharmacists and pharmacy teams, what they do for the public,” says Linda Seib pharmacist-owner of Shoppers Drug Mart in Trail. “The role of the pharmacist has expanded so much in the past few years, we used to just be pill counters and counsel on your prescriptions.
“Now we can do immunizations, medication reviews and in certain situations we can refill your prescription for you – we are getting to have more of a role in our patient’s health care.”
In Trail last fall, for example, there was no need for a “mass” flu clinic. That is likely attributed to that fact that since gaining authority to offer immunizations in 2009, B.C. pharmacists now give more than 500,000 flu vaccines annually.
“We are seeing that the public is getting the message and coming to pharmacists for their flu shots,” said Seib.
Beyond dispensing medications and administering flu immunizations, Seib says common services include provision of travel vaccinations for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and oral medication to prevent cholera or E. coli infections from contaminated food or water.
Another key service involves sitting down with a patient to review all medications including non-prescription drugs.
“You can talk with your pharmacist to set up an appointment, or however your pharmacy likes to do it,” she said. “We will sit down and go over all your medications including over-the-counter medications you are taking as well.”
And for a second straight year, anyone wanting to quit smoking using NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy), only needs to visit their local pharmacy to sign up – there’s no need to call HealthLink anymore.
“No need to call the 8-1-1 line,” Seib added. ” A pharmacist will sign a patient up for the B.C. Smoking Cessation Program.”
For 2017, Pharmacy Awareness Month continues to focus on the services community pharmacists in B.C. deliver such as immunizations, adaptations, med reviews, diabetes coaching, travel medicine, health coaching, pharmacogenomics testing, telepharmacy and much more.