March is Pharmacist Awareness Month…a full month set aside to educate folks like you and me, about the key role pharmacists play in the delivery of health care. The fact is, pharmacists are some of the most accessible people in health care! Just step into any pharmacy and they’re always there…willing and able to answer questions on a great number of topics as well as offer a number of services you may or may not be aware of.
Over the last few years I’ve had a few health issues pop up here and there and I’ve come to rely on my pharmacist just as much as my doctor for medical advice and treatment. While I quite like both my doctor and pharmacist, it’s my hope that I’ll age somewhat gracefully and won’t, in fact, need them as much as they’re willing to be there for me!
However, just so we’re all aware…I thought I’d give you a run through of a few of the services pharmacists can provide (I might just save you a little time away from the doctor’s waiting room!)
PLUS…read through to the end! To help celebrate Pharmacist Awareness Month, Shoppers Drug Mart and Real Atlantic Superstore Pharmacies are interested in hearing all of the wonderful things your pharmacist has done for you! Fill in the survey at the end of this post and a reader of Curtains are Open will win a FIVE HUNDRED DOLLAR gift card to Shoppers Drug Mart! JUST BY SHARING YOUR STORY!
So, without further ado…while dispensing medication is definitely a big part of a pharmacist’s day…there’s so much more!
Vaccinations and Immunizations:
I’ve blogged about the flu vaccination program through Shoppers Drug Mart, but did you know that those same pharmacists who help vaccinate you against the flu can also vaccinate you against shingles, AND provide travel immunizations?
I’m guessing HALF of my readership had NO IDEA as a recent National survey revealed that 50% of Atlantic Canadians weren’t aware of either fact!
If you’re lucky enough to be heading to southern destinations, pharmacists in some provinces can administer the immunizations that may be required to help protect you against diseases that are rare in our country but prevalent in others. If you aren’t sure what vaccines you need, pop in or book an appointment about 4-6 weeks prior to your travel to discuss your plans.
As for vaccines…if you’ve had the chickenpox, you’re at risk for shingles. Shingles is a viral infection of the nerves that causes inflammation and severe pain. The vaccine, available at your pharmacy, can reduce the occurrence of shingles by half! While there are various health factors that may determine the best time to get the vaccine, the majority of folks benefit from the vaccine once they turn 50. (I’ve a year to wait…then I’ll get mine!)
For flu shots, your pharmacist can give you your annual flu shot right in the pharmacy. There’s no need to book an appointment…just drop in when the flu vaccine is available and they’ll do the rest! Remember when I had mine? Click here for the full story.
Assessing and Prescribing for Minor Ailments
A minor ailment is a health condition that can be managed with minimal treatment. It’s usually a short-term condition that doesn’t require blood work or lab tests. Minor ailments can be managed by your pharmacist and while it’s province specific, it can include assessing and treating ailments such as acne, seasonal allergies, acid reflux, bacterial skin infections, headaches, muscle strains and UTIs.
Your pharmacist is able to discuss your condition with you in a private area where he or she will assess your symptoms to determine if they will make a treatment recommendation, write a prescription, or refer you to your doctor.
Help Manage Chronic Diseases
Pharmacists are an integral part of your health care team. If you’re dealing with a chronic disease such as diabetes or hypertension, pharmacists can help.
Diabetes can be a tricky condition to manage and many folks living with the disease can count on their pharmacists for an extra hand. Since blood glucose control is a huge part of managing diabetes, pharmacists are ready to assist in helping patients understand their blood glucose readings and, through regular measuring and recording of blood glucose levels, a pharmacist can make recommendations regarding adjustments in food, exercise and medication…in order to reach glucose targets.
Hypertension (high blood pressure) affects 7.5 million Canadians. Pharmacists are willing and able to help monitor your blood pressure with easy-to-use, in-store machines. Getting your blood pressure under control can help prevent long-term complications such as stroke and heart attack, as well as the development of other conditions such as heart and kidney failure. If you require a prescription to balance your blood pressure, your pharmacist can help you understand your medication and will consult with you on what other medications you should stay clear of as well as what foods to avoid.
Whether it’s to help with weight loss or to find a better balance for living a healthier lifestyle based on your individual health needs, your pharmacist is available for consultation. Maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle is important for your overall well-being. Depending on your health issues and medication needs, pharmacists can work with you to plan your best nutritional path.
And finally, pharmacists are keeping an eye on what medications you’re taking and what side effects you should be looking out for. Some medications are affected by various foods or other medications, and your pharmacist is there to make sure you’re educated on what best works for your particular situation. If you’re having any side effects, chat with them…it could be as simple as changing the time of day you take a prescription, removing a food item from your diet or changing to a different medication more suitable to you.
If a prescription is new to you, your pharmacist will take the time to answer any question you may have, in fact, they insist! Pharmacists are a wealth of knowledge when it comes medications and their unwanted side effects. If you’re worried about something, just ask! In fact, schedule an annual medication review with your pharmacist to go over both your prescriptions and over the counter medications, to ensure you’re taking the right ones, at the right time, and in the correct amounts. Your pharmacist is happy to sit down with you for a full review, and to provide you with a list to share with your other health care providers.
AND, did you know your pharmacist may be able to extend your medication so you don’t miss a dose? If time has gotten away from you and you didn’t get to the doctor, once an assessment is made, a pharmacist may be able to prescribe the needed medication.
Your pharmacist plays a key role in the delivery of your health care. They’re available for a chat any time, and based on provincial rules, can provide much, much more than medication dispensing. Find out more online by visiting the Pharmacy Association for your province, your pharmacy’s website…or ASK YOUR PHARMACIST! They have all the answers!
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Have you had a great experience with your Shoppers Drug Mart or Real Atlantic Superstore Pharmacist? We want to know! Fill in the Love your Pharmacist Survey and one reader from Curtains are Open will win a $500 gift card to Shoppers Drug Mart…just by telling your awesome story!
For example: My favourite pharmacist is Thanh Phung from Shoppers Drug Mart on Fenwick Street in Halifax. To show her how awesome she is and let her know how much I appreciate her, I sent a delivery of flowers. Thanh gave me my flu shot this year…and she’s ALWAYS quick to answer any of my questions. Ironically, Thanh is also one of my favourite people to follow on Instagram. She’s not only an amazing pharmacist…but over the last year of working with her, has turned into an wonderful friend.
Fill in the contest information and let us know about your favourite Shoppers Drug Mart or Real Atlantic Superstore pharmacist. Contest will run until March 31st, 2017. For full Contest Rules, click here.
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Disclaimer: I was compensated by Shoppers Drug Mart for this post. As always, opinions are my own.