When I meet a new person and they find out I’m a community pharmacist, inevitably they want to know what I do as a pharmacist.
“Do you count pills all day and talk to insurance companies?” is a common question I answer. Once I start explaining what I do, a common response is “I didn’t know pharmacists do all that!”
Community pharmacists have a long history of being staples in their communities. Pharmacists are also consistently ranked as one of the most trusted healthcare professionals. That being said…
Let’s start at the beginning: pharmacy school.
Changes in the role of the community pharmacist all starts with the what future pharmacists learn in pharmacy school. Pharmacy students now receive training on how to administer vaccinations, how to check blood pressure, pulse, and do foot exams for diabetes patients, various disease states and medications, and medication delivery devices. Students spend the last year of pharmacy school completing 1,500 hours of clinical rotations through various pharmacy practice sites. In addition, pharmacists can complete an extra year of training through a residency program in a community pharmacy, ambulatory care setting like a medical practice, or a hospital pharmacy. These changes in the curriculum and optional additional training set pharmacists up to be active members of the healthcare team.
To help shed some light on what community pharmacists do, here’s a glimpse into my life as a community pharmacist in Western North Carolina.
A typical week for me includes a variety of responsibilities that vary from day to day. I do spend some time in the pharmacy verifying prescriptions and counseling patients, but I also assist patients in navigating the complexity of the insurance and healthcare world, and following up with provider’s offices about issues encountered.
I answer questions about and administer various vaccinations including but not limited to: influenza, shingles, pneumococcal, meningitis, and Hepatitis B. I collaborate with Dr. Vickery at Sona Clinic seeing clinic patients together, providing disease state education, medication recommendations, and answering medication questions.
I am also a health coach.
I provide patients with ideas about how eat healthier, exercise more, and manage stress appropriately. I provide medication therapy management, during which I review all of the patient’s medications. We discuss what time of day to take the medication, its purpose, potential side effects and the benefits of medications. We talk about vaccinations and I communicate information to the patient’s doctor and/or make recommendations.
With flu season quickly approaching, one of the unique opportunities I have is to go out into the community and provide flu clinics to local businesses. We have a variety of businesses involved and each year we reach more people than previous years.
Another unique opportunity I have is providing care through our employee wellness program. Our company is self-insured and we manage our own pharmacy benefit. I provide coaching for multiple chronic conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, COPD, smoking cessation, and weight loss. As our pharmacy continues to expand we hope to provide these classes and services to the community as well.
I hope this provides a small glimpse into the daily life of a community pharmacist!
Photo credits: Trainer Academy