Ms. Matunis is corporate clinical coordinatorv of clinical services/pharmacy health services at Rite Aid Corporation in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. Dr. Athay is director of student affairs at the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.
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. As you start your pharmacy career, you have the opportunity to choose where you want to establish yourself professionally. 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, 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 go beyond just providing their professional knowledge; they can 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. In the last decade alone, community pharmacists have more broadly demonstrated their clinical expertise beyond their previous efforts in medication management and dispensing. Pharmacists 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. The recent media blitz on seasonal and H1N1 flu provided an opportunity for pharmacists to highlight this more than ever.
With recent changes in health care, community pharmacists are finding themselves more and more on the front lines as patients attempt to self-treat for certain conditions. The pharmacist’s role in health and wellness will continue to be defined as the health care debate continues. It is important to recognize that the debate and voicing opinions isn’t just for your professors, your new employer, or the pharmacy organization of your choice. The future of your chosen profession is being determined. 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.
The future of overall health care in America may seem a little hazy with all of the debate and potential changes—what’s clear is our role and responsibility in providing the utmost care to our patients. We look forward to having you join the profession of pharmacy. May you find the career path that allows you to successfully fulfill
your professional and personal goals. ●
Joining the Ranks of a Trusted Profession
Jennifer Athay, PharmD
Pharmacy is a well-rounded career with an exciting blend of science, health care, direct patient contact, computer technology, and business. Pharmacists play a vital role in improving patient care through the medicine and information they provide. Pharmacy is also a financially rewarding career with a broad array of career opportunities in nearly all health care settings, including academic pharmacy. Pharmacists are part of a trusted profession and are consistently ranked as one of the most highly trusted professionals because of the care and service they provide.
Although responsibilities vary among the different areas of pharmacy practice, the bottom line is that pharmacists help patients get well. Pharmacists’ responsibilities include a range of care for patients, such as dispensing medications and monitoring patient health and progress to maximize their response to the medication. Pharmacists educate consumers and patients on the use of prescription and OTC medications and advise physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals on medication therapy decisions. Pharmacists also provide expertise about the composition of medications, including their chemical, biologic, and physical properties and their manufacture and use. Pharmacists ensure medication purity and strength, and make sure that medications do not interact in a harmful way. They are the medication experts ultimately concerned about their patients’ health and wellness. ●