Pharmacists Have Shifted into the Bridge Between the Patient and the Provider, Offering Personalized Care

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Grace Yun, PharmD, and pharmacy manager at St. Francis Hospital, discussed the value of the pharmacist and how she sees the future of pharmacy evolving.

Grace Yun, PharmD, and pharmacy manager at St. Francis Hospital, discussed the value of the pharmacist and how she sees the future of pharmacy evolving to celebrate this American Pharmacists Month.

Pharmacy Times

Can you introduce yourself?

Pharmacist selling medications in the pharmacy store - Image credit: Rh2010 | stock.adobe.com

Image credit: Rh2010 | stock.adobe.com

Grace Yun

Hi, my name is Grace Yun and I'm a pharmacy manager at St. Francis Hospital.

Pharmacy Times

How have you seen the role of the pharmacists change and evolve throughout your career?

Grace Yun

I have been at this institution for about 14 years now. I started as an intern, I worked every shift as a pharmacist, served my time on the overnights, I was promoted to a supervisor, and now I have the honor to work as a manager. I have had many perspectives of what the roles as a pharmacist is. I'd like to also share that I'm currently enrolled in an MBA program, and I love the new perspective and management. The changes obviously come naturally with time — such as technological advancements, our responsibilities with the COVID-19 pandemic and more awareness as clinical health care professionals. In school, we are trained to learn the medication side effects, the structure, the chemical structures, and the public view us as a dispensary. But I realized over time, we are really serving as a bridge between patients and providers, specializing in medication safety. There has also been a lot more conferences, poster presentations, research papers you could partake in. So the role of pharmacists has become a lot more extensive in that sense.

Pharmacy Times

How did you get into pharmacy?

Grace Yun

I remember in high school, there was one of those job career fairs, and they were explaining how pharmacists have more of a clinical role, and they go on rounds with doctors. You see all these little Netflix videos where pharmacists are directly with the patient care. I wasn't sure if I wanted to make a commitment as a doctor, but the whole pharmacy world was intriguing and interesting to me. I was always interested in the management aspect of it too, so Healthcare Management is where I am. It took me about 14 years to get here, but that was what I envisioned for myself.

Pharmacy Times

How are you celebrating American Pharmacist Month?

Grace Yun

I have a different perspective of American Pharmacist Month now. In the past you received a sweater or a thank you card or an email. But I think this month, I'd like to take my time to express gratitude to my pharmacy department. Personally, I'm not really sure how I will be celebrating it, but we recently had a change in management. Our staff worked very hard to be involved and adapt to the changes. Along with my new job responsibilities, and incorporating the new leadership style, everyone has been working as a team. Of course, throughout the month, there will be cakes, gifts and reminders to staff of appreciation, but specifically, our technicians have been empowered to take on additional responsibility on handling-controlled substances and the pharmacist as well. They have been cross training and keeping up with a new, sterile compounding. I am very proud of everyone, and I appreciate everyone's patience, so that's how I would like to celebrate it.

Pharmacy Times

What does the value of the pharmacist mean to you?

Grace Yun

As I had mentioned before, pharmacist roles are to review drug dosages, check the directions, check for interactions — we go to school for that, but I really like to focus on the medication safety. The medication safety incorporates how your communication skills are going to be like with the providers and how you're going to deliver that medication to the patients and council. What I realized is the meds to beds program and the transition of care program — you'll meet my colleague, by the way later, Crystal at St. Francis as well, I think she was a great person to interview— the patients they need that assurance and support when they're about to get discharged or when they're picking up medications in the pharmacy. I feel the value of the pharmacist is not just checking the computer to see if the medication was appropriately dispensed. It's how to help make the patient feel like it's okay to take this medication, and if it's not working for them how to give them assurance to come back and we'll change your, prescription, and we'll speak to the doctor for you. I think our role has been a lot more engaging in that sense.

Pharmacy Times

How do you see the future of pharmacy evolving?

Grace Yun

I envision the pharmacy to be more automated, just like artificial intelligence. I don't think it's negative if the pharmacy is more automated. I believe it will optimize our processes — and more importantly, reduce medication errors. If we trust the automation and the technology to do the procurement processes, maybe our pharmacists will spend less time delivering the medication and doing something that a computer or a robot could do. Our expertise can be used more clinically, to form a relationship with our patients to provide them the care that they need.

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