THE IMPACT OF COMMUNITY PHARMACY
Sarah B. Matunis, RPh
Pharmacy becomes a part of you, regardless of the career path you choose. You may work as a clinician, researcher, businessperson, lawyer, or educator, the list goes on—but you are a pharmacist. Many of you will become community pharmacists. Throughout your career, you will have the opportunity to impact the health and well-being of thousands of patients.
As one of the most accessible health care providers, pharmacists provide their myriad expertise in the community on a daily basis, including professional consults with other health care providers, short or in-depth patient consults, medication profile review, dispensing medication, providing expert drug information in both professional and patient terms, medication therapy management (MTM) sessions, immunizations, and OTC recommendations. This is in addition to providing a sympathetic ear to a caregiver, assurance to an anxious mom with a sick infant, and compassion to a senior struggling to understand his or her complicated drug regimen. Community pharmacists have the opportunity to be an important part of the community and are personally invested in their patients’ care.
Community pharmacists today hardly recognize the “count, pour, lick, stick” mantra of the past. Pharmacists today are more “hands-on,” providing immunizations and screenings, reviewing lab results, finding new ways to address medication compliance and adherence, and providing MTM. Community pharmacists are solidifying their role in health care by making their patients and the public at large more fully aware of the expertise and services they provide.
Community pharmacists are finding themselves on the front lines as patients attempt to self-treat for certain conditions. The pharmacists’ role in health and wellness will continue to be defined as the overall health care landscape changes. It is important to recognize that defining your professional role during times of change isn’t just for your professors or your new employer. If you don’t get involved, you risk your future being determined for you, not by you. Get involved with your patients, regardless of your practice site, and demonstrate your expertise at every opportunity.
While the health care landscape regularly redefines itself, one constant is our role and responsibility in providing the utmost care to our patients. May you find the career path that allows you to successfully fulfill your professional and personal goals.
Ms. Matunis is corporate clinical coordinator of clinical services/ pharmacy health services at Rite Aid Corporation in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.
HELPING PATIENTS BECOME HEALTHIER
Ed Cohen, PharmD
Welcome to your new career in pharmacy. It is such an exciting time to be a pharmacist. The transformation of the profession, the vast opportunities and specialization, and the rewards of direct patient care are all exciting aspects of your future practice.
Pharmacists are doing more than filling prescriptions. It’s all about taking care of your patients’ health and daily living needs—and moving from seeing the patient as a transaction to building a relationship and establishing trust.
You will have the ability to help patients become healthier by taking their medications properly. It is becoming more common to counsel patients on medications through programs such as medication therapy management—which will give you a great opportunity to develop relationships with patients who have complex therapies and help them take a more active role in managing their health. When pharmacists take the time to educate patients, patient health and satisfaction improve.
Asking the appropriate questions, such as “Have you used this medication before?” or “Have you noticed any changes since starting your medication?” are simple ways to engage your patients and begin the pharmacist-patient relationship.
You will be part of the health care team, continually collaborating and partnering with other professionals on behalf of your patients. You will fill a critical gap by offering convenient and lower cost health care alternatives and filling the important role that the expansive network of pharmacists can play in the future of health care delivery.
Your pharmacist career will be challenging. Your relationship with the college of pharmacy should not end with your graduation. You will continue lifelong learning and should remain an active alumnus of the college to help keep you current. Remaining active within the profession can be accomplished by continual membership and activities within the many pharmacy associations. These organizations can offer you leadership opportunities, too.
Whatever your path in pharmacy, embrace change, work diligently on behalf of your patients, and have a great time!
Dr. Cohen is senior manager, product development, corporate innovations at Walgreens.