Fred M. Eckel, RPh, MS, Pharmacy Times Editor-in-Chief
As the public begins to embrace the idea of the pharmacy as a health care destination, community pharmacists can seize the opportunity to offer health and wellness service to children and their parents.
A current tag line being used to describe the community pharmacy is “Your neighborhood health center.” I agree that this is a very useful way to reimage the pharmacy, but perhaps describing it as your neighborhood health and wellness center would be better. I thought about this as I was contemplating how the pharmacist can support the family of the pediatric patient.
Kids are not just small adults. Thus, advising parents about proper overthe-counter medication use in children is an extremely valuable service that pharmacists can provide. And there are many ways to do this. For example, providing a flavoring service for pediatric medications can make it easier for parents to administer them and children to take them. Checking a new prescription order for accurate dosage consistent with the patient’s age and weight also is a valuable and necessary service. These examples are clearly health benefits that pharmacists can offer to children and their parents.
So, why do I suggest an expansion to a “health and wellness center” in an editorial on the community pharmacist and the family? Much concern has been expressed in the media about childhood obesity and even the fact that chronic diseases are appearing at earlier ages. Does this present an opportunity for the community pharmacist to promote wellness and offer specific services to the family to promote wellness as they provide health services? I think it does.
Perhaps a weight management service could be offered through the community pharmacy that could include a session to make new parents aware of nutrition principles that should be followed, now that their life situation has changed. New parents may be more open to thinking about wellness activities, now that they have different responsibilities and obligations.
Why is the community pharmacy the perfect place to do this? Accessibility is clearly one reason that it might be the best place. Also, the image of the neighborhood pharmacy is already changing, I believe, because pharmacists are administering immunizations. The presence of urgent care clinics within a pharmacy also helps change the patient’s image of community pharmacy. Let’s take advantage of these developments to promote wellness activities too—and impact the pediatric population.
Community pharmacies need to identify new parents in their community. Are you checking local papers to identify new births? Do you send them a letter of congratulations inviting them to your pharmacy for a baby gift? Do you tell them of the services you offer both parents and children? Marketing our services is critical to truly making our community pharmacy a health and wellness center. No doubt, families can benefit from such services directed at meeting their health and wellness needs.
Mr. Eckel is a professor emertitus at the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is past executive director of the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists.