by Steve Bond, BScPhm, RPh, CDE

Your pharmacist has spent 6-8 years in university learning their profession. Taking many courses in chemistry, biology, pathophysiology, therapeutics, they have dedicated a large portion of time acquiring knowledge to help you manage your health. They are drug experts and have been regarded one of the most accessible healthcare providers. Unlike many other healthcare professionals, you can choose your pharmacist. The role of the pharmacist is expanding: from flu shots to compliance aids, your pharmacist can dispense more than just medication. Pharmacists can extend your medication when your doctor is away and change your prescription if there is a problem.

One potentially valuable service in Ontario is the Medscheck® program. MedsCheck® is a program that allows you to schedule a 20 to 30 minute, one-to-one with your pharmacist to ensure that you are safely and appropriately using all types of medication. It can be conducted at the pharmacy of your choice or for those unable to venture out, can be done in the home. But are you getting the most from this program?

A MedsCheck® is more than a quick review of your medications while you are standing at a busy pick-up counter. It should be done privately in an office setting. The pharmacist should review all medications including prescription, over-the-counter, and complementary therapies and make sure your record is complete. With open dialogue, the pharmacist can ensure that you are using medication most effectively: the right drug, dose, duration. With this type of review, your pharmacist can make recommendations to you and your physician to optimize your health.

The role of the pharmacist is always evolving. For example, starting July 1st, 2022, the pharmacist can do some blood tests at the pharmacy for diabetes and cholesterol. In the new year, your pharmacist will be able to prescribe for conditions like skin infections and bladder infections!

So don’t let your pharmacist off the hook. I highly encourage patients to challenge their pharmacist. Schedule an appointment to speak to your pharmacist one-on-one to maximize your health and get the best positive outcomes. Make sure your pharmacist is indispensable. Take care of yourselves and each other.