The editorial focus of this month’s issue is diseases and disorders of the central nervous system (CNS). For conditions such as the common cold, you may be asked questions about symptoms and treatments thousands of times over the course of your career. The opportunities to interact with patients who are suffering from neurologic disorders are, of course, much rarer. But as the potential first point of contact (in some cases), or as the final health care professional consulted before a medication regimen begins, your role in treating CNS conditions could have a pronounced impact on patient care.
When it comes to patients who visit your pharmacy with health concerns, trust and accessibility are paramount in delivering messages that impact health choices. Pharmacists, the most accessible health care professionals and always among the most trusted, have had and will continue to have a major impact on the millions of consumers who visit their stores each day. In particular, pharmacists working at independent pharmacies often have strong ties to their community and clear bonds to the patients they might see twice a month or, in some cases, twice a day.
The old adage goes that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. The difficult truth is that once patients leave the pharmacy, their own health choices— whether to eat healthy and exercise, practice preventive medicine, monitor their health, and closely adhere to their medication regimens—become paramount. All the medication reminders in the world and all the best health care advice can’t replace the individual responsibility your patients have to take the best care of themselves. You can give them the right medication, but you can’t make them take it.
You probably have to look no further than yourself to see a similar dynamic at work. Even knowing what you know, are you as healthy as you can be? If you’re on a medication regimen, do you follow it as closely as you should? For at least some of you, I would bet that the answer is no. No one is asking the pharmacist or any other health care professional to be perfect. The point is that since you can’t really have any impact on whether the horse drinks, it frees you up to simply do your best in leading it to the water. Thank you for reading!