Pharmacists Should Recognize Nurses as Patient Medication Educators


Pharmacists need to support and thank nurses for their efforts on the front lines of patient medication education.

This past week, I had the opportunity to attend a regional corporate team building retreat for the health-system where I work. Surprisingly, I gained new understanding of the values our company represents.

More importantly, I happened to be seated at a table with a registered nurse who works at the same hospital I do. Between speakers, we had a chance to discuss different issues we have seen in our facility that involve patient care.

Initially, I shared the bedside medication therapy management (MTM) program we have been working on. We discussed how patients were identified as good candidates for a pharmacist bedside visit, and how the pharmacist goes about educating the patient on the follow-up process.

During one recent patient visit, I noticed the nurse come into the room with a hand full of cards with medication information on them. After asking, she showed them to me and said a system was recently implemented to help the nurses with their patient medication information teaching.

Each card had the name of the medication on one side and some of the important counseling information on the other side. She said both the patients and nurses love these cards. The nurses initially go over the information with patients, leave the cards with them, and then every time they come into the room, they ask a question about their medication.

The nurse I sat with at the retreat said this was just a natural progression of the patient education process. She helped me understand that nurses have been educating patients about medications for years, and patients trust their nurse.

From the moment patients get into their rooms, they are building relationships with their nurse. As nurses build rapport with patients, they are creating an environment where patients may feel comfortable asking important questions about their medications.

Nurses are able to address medication education, one question at a time, with each visit to the patient's room.

Pharmacists filter through readmission risk criteria and provider recommendations before creating a list of patients to see that specific day. We see the patient once and do our best to build a trusting relationship through our 20- to 30-minute bedside MTM program.

In an average 300-bed community hospital, relatively few patients will receive a visit from a pharmacist to discuss medications prior to being discharged, but it's guaranteed that all patients will receive countless visits from their nurse throughout their stay.

Someday, it could be common place for every patient to have an MTM session with a pharmacist prior to discharge. Until then, pharmacists need to support and thank nurses for their efforts on the front lines of patient medication education.

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