By Joshua Pirestani
When people hear the word “pharmacist”, they usually think of a professional who fills prescriptions and dispenses medications. These definitions are technically correct but, if you work as a pharmacist, you have to realize that these aren’t the only tasks you should do. Your role is rapidly expanding as time goes by, which means you’re expected to handle additional responsibilities. These include:
Providing patient education
As a pharmacist, you probably already know that it’s your job to educate patients about their medication. You’ll need to inform them when to take their meds, what the exact dosage is, how they should take or administer the medications, and what they should do beforehand. You must also inform them about the possible side effects and adverse effects that they’ll experience and tell them about the drug interactions that may happen if they combine certain medications. It’s likewise important to educate your patients about the medical services that they can find in the community and encourage them to take advantage of these.
Reconciling patients’ medications
Medication reconciliation is one of the most important tasks of a pharmacist. It involves creating a comprehensive list of the medications that a patient is taking, noting their dosage, route of administration, and frequency, and comparing them with the admission, transfer, or discharge orders of their physician. By taking these steps, you can assure that the patient receives the correct medications throughout his stay in the hospital and even when he’s allowed to go home.
Monitoring patient conditions
As a pharmacist, you’re one of the healthcare staff who is frequently in contact with the patient after he has been discharged and/or while he is taking medications at home. This gives you the perfect opportunity to monitor his progress and see how effectively his health condition is managed. Depending on what you see, you can encourage the patient to keep up the good work or provide corrections on how he takes his prescriptions.
Providing support to the healthcare team
You, as a pharmacist, are an important part of the healthcare team, not just because you dispense medications, but also because of your frontline role. Through your regular interactions with patients, you can give feedback to doctors and other healthcare staff about their condition. You can also gather data that will help the team come up with more effective strategies for medication prescription and management. Of course, you help minimize re-admissions and promote better health by ensuring that patients adhere to their medication programs and identifying environmental and socioeconomic factors that may affect the patients’ recuperation and overall wellness.
Assessing the efficacy of medications
Since you’re regularly interacting with patients, you’re in the best position to check if their medications are effective or not. If they’re not, you can get in touch with physicians right away to inform them of how the patient is reacting to the drugs. This, in turn, will require doctors to look for alternative drugs that are more effective for the patient.
Helping reduce healthcare costs
Your day-to-day experience as a pharmacist will give you an idea of how to provide drug therapy in a cost-effective way without compromising quality of care. You can then share this knowledge with the rest of the healthcare team and come up with strategies to improve public health while reducing expenses.
These are some of your roles as a pharmacist. Embrace them and use them as an opportunity to grow in your profession!