pharmacists, heal people with love

This video from the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Hong Kong comes by way of University of Alberta Pharmacy professor Lisa Guirguis.

My favourite line?

Cure illnesses with medicine.  Heal people with love.

Let’s consider the labels we have for different health professionals.  Think that pharmacists are introverted scientists, who merely count pills behind a counter?

Well, you are WRONG my friend.

Over the past year, I have been surprised by pharmacists.  Last summer, I interviewed six champion pharmacists to prepare for my Great Translators presentation at the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association.  I was inspired with their passion and dedication to caring for patients.  I then co-presented with RxA’s Director of Professional Practice Jeff Whissell to the Faculty of Pharmacy students last March.  This past weekend, Jeff and I co-presented again about patient centred care at the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists‘ Educational Event.

Here’s what’s impressive about pharmacists.  Their scope of practice has recently changed to include more consultations with patients.  So they are very interested in patient centred care, and go as far as inviting real patients to speak to them at their conferences.  (The emphasis is intended; other health professionals invite researchers and administrators and themselves to talk about patient centred care and share patient stories – they aren’t quite evolved enough to invite real patients themselves.  This sort of infuriates me).  Pharmacists are further along this continuum of patient centred care.

The immersion in the world of pharmacists has taught me a lot.  I previously had no idea what pharmacists actually did.  Many years ago, I took a pharmacology course in university and barely passed.  I knew that pharmacists are very bright, academically inclined and have the ability to memorize a vast amount of complex information.  But that’s about it.

I’ve since learned that pharmacists are actually the great translators for patients in the health system.  They take something that is very foreign to patients (which comes in the form of a prescription or an order) and they help translate that into something that helps patients get better, they support patients to manage their own health.

Pharmacists have a vast amount of health knowledge, and are great resources for us.  In the community, pharmacists are incredibly accessible to patients.  In fact, you can see a community pharmacist by just walking into your local pharmacy.  You can visit them at 10 pm on a Sunday night, and you don’t need an appointment.  How I wish we could access all health professionals this way.

Pharmacists who work in hospitals often round with other health professionals to manage a patient’s medications.  But alas, we often don’t even know there’s a pharmacist in the crowd of white coats that present to us at the bedside.  They are virtually invisible – we don’t know who they are, or what they can do for us.  For instance, in critical care settings, pharmacists perform “pharmacokinetic monitoring, monitor vital signs and laboratory results, adjust medication dosages, enter orders, perform clinical checks and dispense medications.” (Canadian Journal of Hospital Pharmacists, July August 2014).  I mean, WHO KNEW THIS?  Not me.

This is about to change.  The profession is dedicated to increasing patient understanding and visibility.  Research about patient centred care and pharmacists is pointing to some simple tips to help patients recall and appreciate pharmacists.

To increase understanding of the pharmacist role, pharmacists can engage in some simple patient centred care approaches by:
-introducing themselves
-describing their role
-taking the time to find out what’s most important to the patient
-giving examples of the types of questions that patients might ask them
-sharing contact information with patients so they can get in touch with them.

Health care is not just about doctors and nurses.  There are at least 28 other health professionals that are dedicated to caring for us…and pharmacists are, in fact, leaders in advancing patient centred care.  Go ahead, and ask your pharmacist what they can do for you.




2 thoughts on “pharmacists, heal people with love

  1. tarah2 says:

    I had no idea of all that pharmacists can do! I’ll be sharing this post with a pharmacist friend of mine. I’m sure she’ll appreciate a little overdue recognition!

  2. Cara says:

    Thanks for a great article! As a clinical pharmacist in the hospital, I agree a lot of people are surprised to meet me and hear what I do. Nice to hear you are collaborating with some wonderful pharmacists there in Edmonton and getting the word out that pharmacists have a positive impact on patient’s health. Hopefully articles like this will change the perception that all pharmcists do is count pills and explain why you may have to wait to get your prescription…as the pharmacist makes sure it is safe and effective for you!

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