Walmart Pharmacist Excellence in Patient Care Award Winner: George Bethel, RPh

AUGUST 01, 2017
Ryan Marotta, Assistant Editor
In recognition of his dedication to improving his patients’ health through individualized care, George Bethel, RPh, has been named the 2017 winner of the Walmart Pharmacist Excellence in Patient Care Award.

A graduate of the University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy, Bethel has worked as a pharmacist or pharmacy manager at Walmart pharmacies throughout Maine, including stores in Brunswick, Auburn, Rockland, Portland, and Windham. He considers the highlight of his career, however, to be his daily interactions with his patients.

“I chose the profession of pharmacy for its ability to have a positive impact on members of the community through one-on-one consultation,” Bethel told Pharmacy Times®. “Individual patient care and interaction is the most rewarding aspect of my career.”

Bethel recalled a particularly noteworthy incident in which a patient asked him for help choosing a dietary supplement. During their conversation, Bethel discovered that the patient was seeking treatment for advanced prostate cancer and that the patient’s lack of insurance forced him to look for an OTC medication.

“I convinced the patient to seek assistance for insurance and return to his provider for medical treatment,” Bethel said. “We developed a great professional relationship after this, and I had the honor of serving him for an additional 8 years. One of my last conversations with the patient touched upon his gratitude for our initial contact and his emphasis on the importance of preventive screening.”

Reflecting on his career, Bethel emphasized the importance of gratitude in caring for patients and advised his fellow pharmacists to end each consultation with a sincere gesture of appreciation.

“Pharmacists provide an integral role in comprehensive health care. As a cornerstone of our profession, we offer useful and relevant information for our community, but we should never take for granted the trust our patients give us,” he said. “Taking time to consult with patients seeking professional advice is paramount for the future of pharmacy.”

Q: What do you think is the most important quality for a pharmacist to possess?
A: Pharmacists need to have both an awareness for unique patient needs and the ability to refine pharmacy practice to meet those requirements. We serve diverse populations of patients within our communities, encountering a broad range of socioeconomic, educational, religious, and generational differences. Identifying specific patient needs allows us to offer the most effective level of service, and investing time with each patient enables us to provide a better level of care.

Q: What do you think is the most important issue in the field of pharmacy today?
A: It is essential that pharmacists be nationally recognized as health care providers. Provider status is warranted in response to the wide range of services that are now being offered by pharmacists, including medication therapy management, comprehensive medication reviews, immunizations, and collaborative practice. Each clinical service provides an additional level of support by supplementing traditional paths of health care management. On average, community pharmacists see individual patients at least once a month. Ongoing patient engagement builds trusting relationships and allows for greater opportunity to discuss concerns, answer questions, and establish regular intervals for follow-up consultation. As pharmacists continue to be a viable resource for health care services, obtaining provider status will allow our profession to better contribute toward a higher level of patient care.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring pharmacists?
A: Since the start of my career, I have looked for ways to mentor pharmacy students by way of preceptor site hosting and summer intern programs. Working with these young professionals is a rewarding experience that affords an opportunity to give back to the profession. Our future pharmacists are a group of talented individuals determined to make positive impacts on the profession, and I am encouraged by their curiosity and zeal. My advice for future pharmacists is to maintain that same level of curiosity and enthusiasm throughout their career.

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