The top 10 things you didn’t know your pharmacist could do for you



By Zachary Noel

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As October brings in cool weather and autumn foliage, it also brings in a variety of national observances. National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness, and of course National Pizza and National Dessert month are all during the month of October. Among many others, however, is American Pharmacists Month (APhM).

As you pick up the Kernel throughout October you will likely notice a variety of articles referencing pharmacists. To kickoff this month I’m sharing a list of “the top 10 things you didn’t know your pharmacist could do for you”:

1. Immunize. Pharmacists in Kentucky can not only give you the “flu shot,” but they can also vaccinate you for whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis, human papilloma virus and pneumococcal infections, among many others.

2. Save you money. Pharmacists deal with medication expenses on a daily basis and are able to suggest alternatives that can save you money. If you find yourself paying too much for your medications, talk to your pharmacist to find out if there are other options.

3. Educate. Pharmacists are the most accessible health-care providers and are often under-utilized. Approach your pharmacist with questions and you will often find they are quite receptive to coming out from behind the counter and assisting you with not only medication-related questions, but many over-the-counter and disease-related questions as well.

4. Protect you. Pharmacists serve as a filter between you and prescribers. The chaotic workflow of busy practitioners makes them vulnerable to mistakes, and pharmacists provide a professional safeguard between you and your medications.

5. Provide free counseling. Pharmacists are frequently overlooked in terms of drug-related recommendations.  Whether it’s vitamins and herbals, other over-the-counter products or the latest “magic pill” Dr. Oz raves over, pharmacists can provide an evidence- and experience-based recommendation.

6. Prescribe. Some pharmacists can enter agreements with various providers allowing them to prescribe or alter medication regimens, such as within the Veteran’s Affairs hospital system.

7. Practice in non-traditional settings. Pharmacy has expanded vastly in the past few decades. The utility of the pharmacist has expanded to emergency rooms, transplant services, operating rooms, veterinary medicine and pediatric medicine, among others.

8. Complete a residency. Pharmacists have the option to extend their training and complete a post-graduate residency of either one or two years, allowing them to specialize and focus their career in a particular area of clinical interest.

9. Medication therapy management. Pharmacists specialize in medication information and applying that knowledge to patient care. With this unmatched comprehensive drug knowledge pharmacists are able to review all of your medications to assess for interactions and make specific therapy recommendations.

10. Compound. Pharmacists are often called on to produce extemporaneous products not available by bulk manufacturers, such as eye drops, topical preparations and suspensions. This usually requires an array of instruments and manipulations to produce a safe, uniform product for patients to use.