March is Pharmacist Awareness Month-this year’s theme is “Pharmacists: Doing More. For You”.   I find it hard to write about this topic as I feel like a 5 year old doing cartwheels on the front lawn yelling to my mom, “Hey Look at Me.”  But then I thought I work with and are friends with so many incredible colleagues who deserve to be recognized.   There are over 42,000 pharmacists working in 10,000 pharmacies across the country.  This 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 been ranked as one of the most trusted professionals.  That is probably why more than half of Canadians seek out a pharmacist first before any other health care professional.

So what can we do for you?  Did you know that pharmacists can now  provide new services, such as renewing prescriptions, administering vaccinations, medication management services and prescribing for conditions such as smoking cessation?  Pharmacists also provide advice on over the counter medications, home health care products, vitamins and natural health products as well as 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.  We also work with local, provincial and federal levels of government to help minimize 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 good 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 helpful to 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.  It can be conducted at the pharmacy of your choice or for those unable to venture out, can be done in the home.

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

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