For fun, I ask my son what he wants to do when he grows up. The fun isn’t necessarily in asking the question but in the suspense of what his response will be this time! A couple of instances he’s wanted to be a Ninja Turtle. Every now and then we get a more attainable career path such as a chef. My favorite by far has been “a dad.” Hats off to my husband for being a great inspiration on that one.
I Want to be a Doctor When I Grow Up
Once in a while, my kids get to visit me at the pharmacy. The first time my son saw me in a white coat his jaw kind of dropped and he said, “Mom, you’re a doctor?” Indeed I am. A Doctor of Pharmacy to be exact with the credentials “PharmD” behind my name and all. Although he was only a toddler at the time, he wasn’t the first to be shocked that a pharmacist holds a doctorate degree. Even more than that, the pharmacist is such an integral part of our entire health care system.
“Know Your Pharmacist, Know Your Medicine”
That’s the slogan from the American Pharmacists Association to encourage patients to talk to their pharmacist to understand their medications. American Pharmacists Month is celebrated annually throughout the month of October. This is the time when pharmacies all over the country showcase their pharmacists and pharmacy team members. In the public eye, you may see us in grocery stores, corner drug stores, and big-box retailers. Pharmacists are also found throughout the hospital system. Oftentimes, there is a pharmacist integrated with a team of doctors.
Behind the Counter
From the outside looking into a retail pharmacy, you usually will see people counting by fives, walking quickly in and out of shelves, answering phone calls, and looking quite intently at computer screens. Easy, right? Add the prescription into the computer, print out the label, count by fives, put the label on a vial and you’re set. Sadly, I have been asked on more than one occasion, “How long does it take to put slap a label on a box?”
On a daily basis, pharmacists are inputting prescriptions into their store’s computer system. We are verifying the dose and directions are appropriate for the patient it was prescribed for and checking if there are any drug-drug interactions. We also make certain that we are filling the prescription as allowed by the letter of the law – both state and federal. And if there is any question that arises while evaluating the prescription, we are on the phone calling the doctor’s office for a clarification. Then we submit the claim to the patient’s insurance. We also navigate through rejected insurance claims. That’s a lot of work and we haven’t even got the pills in the vial yet! Pharmacists are back at the counter providing a final check on the filled prescription after our trusted pharmacy technicians prepare the medications. All that activity is definitely difficult to see from a distance, but rest assured, your pharmacist is doing all that and more.
Many pharmacists also provide immunizations, blood pressure checks, comprehensive patient interviews, medication therapy management, over the counter recommendations and advice, chart reviews, brown bag sessions, consultations, patient education and more. From the ever-changing world of pharmacy, pharmacists are there adjusting to these winds of change. More importantly, we are there for our patients.
Come up to the counter and ask your questions. As a mom, I know how it feels to have a sick kiddo at home. The pediatrician says a medication will treat their illness. We drive away from the clinic and while on way to the pharmacy we naturally have questions to ensure we are not causing more harm to our children. Your pharmacist is your medication expert. Ask us your questions, we are there to help.
While you’re out this month getting groceries, picking up medications or getting seasonal immunizations, remember to acknowledge your local pharmacist and all that they do. Stop by and wave hello!