How to Use your Local Pharmacy and Pharmacist | Lisa Binsin, PharmD | RxEconsult

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How to Use your Local Pharmacy and Pharmacist Category: Pharmacotherapy by - September 18, 2013 | Views: 20783 | Likes: 1 | Comment: 0  

Using your pharmacy and pharmacist

Many people see a pharmacy as a place to receive prescription medications, buy a few convenience items and leave. Only a few people actually fully utilize their local pharmacist and pharmacy. Pharmacist do more than just count pills from larger bottles and put them in smaller ones.

Who are pharmacists
To receive a pharmacy degree, every aspiring pharmacist needs to have a bachelor’s degree or have completed at least 2 years of college prerequisites before acceptance into a professional pharmacy program. Applying to a pharmacy program is very competitive and the doctor of pharmacy degree program is 4 years long after completing undergraduate course work. After successful completion of the pharmacy program, pharmacist take their state law exam and also the pharmacy board exam. Once this is successfully completed they become a registered pharmacist and can practice pharmacy. Some pharmacists also opt for residency programs and specialize in certain areas of pharmacy. 
Obtain medication counseling
When you pick up your medication, by law you should be offered a consultation for all new medications. However, most people are in a hurry and brush off the consultation. Next time you visit your local pharmacy for a new medication, take time to talk to your pharmacist about it. You may learn a lot more than what you expected. Some medications are taken with food and some without. Some medications should not be taken with other medications and certain foods. Some side effects can be avoided or their severity can be reduced if you know how.  A pharmacists can explain and educate you about how best to use your medications.
Pharmacists provide a service called medication therapy management (MTM) which helps patients optimize drug therapy and benefit most from their medications. MTM includes the following:
  • Medication assessment and review
  • Creating a medication treatment plan
  • Monitoring efficacy and safety of medication therapy
  • Enhancing medication adherence
  • Collaborating with prescribers to select the best medication regimen 
MTM is provided by your pharmacist and it can be especially helpful if you are taking several medications or if you have a chronic disease. Some insurance plans cover MTM services therefore check with your own insurance plan to find out more.
Check your blood pressure or receive a flu shot
Pharmacy visits can be more than just picking up your medication. Many pharmacies provide vaccinations, for example, flu shots, tetanus, and shingles vaccines. Most pharmacies also have blood pressure machines you can use to evaluate your blood pressure treatment. The pharmacist can interpret your blood pressure and let you know whether or not you should be concerned. Furthermore, some pharmacies have clinics for initial screenings.
What you should do before, during, and after your pharmacy visit
Before you visit the pharmacy check with your insurance provider that they do not already have a preferred pharmacy they want you to use. This will save you time and the hassle of visiting the wrong pharmacy. If you have insurance, make sure you bring the correct insurance card. Many insurance plans have a separate card for their medical and prescription services. Don’t know which card is which? Bring them all. The employees at your local pharmacy will be able to let you know which card to use. If you do not have a prescription card, you can call your insurance company or let the pharmacy technician call for you, however, please note that this can take time especially if it is a busy pharmacy. For refill medications check that you have refills before you visit the pharmacy. The number of refills is printed on the label. If you do not have refills left on a medication call your doctor or ask the pharmacy to contact your doctor for additional refills.
During your pharmacy visit, make sure you know which line to go to. Your local pharmacy will usually have three areas: drop-off, pick-up, and consultation. Drop-off is where you drop off the prescription you received from you doctor. Pick-up line is where you receive and pay for your medication once they are ready. Lastly, the consultation area is one of the most important areas. If it is a new medication, make sure you talk to the pharmacist even though you discussed it with your doctor earlier. The doctor may have missed some key points on how to take the medication or any common side effects. Make sure that you received the correct medication before leaving the pharmacy. A few minutes out of your busy schedule may improve your care. 
After your pharmacy visit, make sure you check the medication in the bottle. The label should describe what the pills in the bottle look like. If it is the correct medication, read the hand out and learn how to use the medication and possible side effects. If you have questions about your medication call call your pharmacy. 
Many people have a busy schedule and want to get in and out of a pharmacy as fast as they can. However, your pharmacy is not a fast-food place. It is a health center that you can use to improve your health. Take advantage of the services offered at your local pharmacy and improve your health care. 

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