Pharmacists: Doing More. For You.

March is Pharmacy Appreciation Month – it was changed from awareness to appreciation to reflect and celebrate the role pharmacy team members play in the health care system. I can personally attest to the sacrifice and commitment made by my staff and colleagues, and I am blessed to know them. Over 42,500 pharmacists are working in 10,500 pharmacies across the country. That makes pharmacists one of the most accessible healthcare professionals in Canada. An appointment is often not required to see a pharmacist, and pharmacists have ranked; as one of the most trusted professionals. That is probably why more than half of Canadians seek a pharmacist first before any other health care professional.

So, what can we do for you? Renewing prescriptions, administering vaccinations, medication management services, and prescribing for conditions such as smoking cessation. We also provide advice on over-the-counter medications, home healthcare products, vitamins, and natural health products. Pharmacists are experts at monitoring medications for adverse drug interactions and interactions to keep you safe.

We are doing more for our patients than ever before. Your pharmacist works with your doctor and other healthcare professionals to ensure that you are getting the best care possible. Having a relationship with the local, provincial, and federal levels of the government helps reduce costs while maximizing benefits to our clients.

Your pharmacist is an expert on medications – to paraphrase a quote from Liam Neeson – If you are looking for advice, I can tell you I don’t have money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me help people like you. I will look for medication problems, I will find them, and I will fix them.

At the beginning of 2023, pharmacists were empowered to prescribe for 13 minor ailments- health conditions that can be managed with minimal treatment and/or self-care strategies. In October this increased to 19 conditions, including: acne, allergic rhinitis, canker sores, thrush, pink eye, dermatitis, diaper rash, reflux disease, menstrual pain, hemorrhoids, cold sores, impetigo, insect bites, nausea in pregnancy, pinworms, urinary tract infections, sprains and strains, and yeast infections. We also prescribe to prevent Lyme disease after a tick bite.  It is important to understand that the pharmacist will evaluate your condition and will then decide if a prescription is required or if a referral is required. As I like to say, just because a pharmacist can write a prescription doesn’t mean that they should write a prescription (and you can substitute any health care professional in that sentence as it applies universally).

Talk to your pharmacist. Ask how he/she is doing more. And as always – take care of yourselves and each other. 

By: Steve Bond, BScPhm, RPh, CDE