March is Pharmacy Appreciation Month- it was changed from awareness to appreciation this year to reflect and celebrate the role pharmacy team members play in the health care system, particularly during the pandemic. 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 health care 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. Pharmacists provide advice on the following, over-the-counter medications, home healthcare products, vitamins and natural health products, monitoring medications for adverse drug interactions.

We are doing more for our patients than ever before. Your pharmacist works with your doctor and other health care 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.

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 meeting with your community pharmacist to ensure that you are safely and appropriately using all types of medication. You can choose to conduct it at the pharmacy of your choice, or for those unable to venture out, you can complete it at home.

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