Great Accomplishments in Pharmacy

The role of the pharmacist is changing so fast that it’s hard to keep up with their expanding accomplishments.

Their role not goes well beyond the traditional product-oriented functions of dispensing and distributing medicines and health supplies.

Pharmacist's services include more patient-oriented, administrative and public health functions, and there are many functions of public health that can benefit from pharmacists' unique expertise that may include pharmacotherapy, access to care, and prevention services.

Apart from dispensing medicine, pharmacists have proven to be an accessible resource for health and medication information and their centralized placement in the community and clinical expertise are now invaluable.

The reexamination and integration of public health practice into pharmacological training and pharmaceutical care is essential; the encouragement of cross-training will also maximize resources and aid in addressing the work force needs within the fields of pharmacy and public health.

The American Public Health Association has historically supported the pharmacist's role in public health. Through trans-disciplinary approaches, it is envisioned that the pharmacist's contribution to the public health work force, health education, disease prevention and health promotion, public health advocacy, and health quality will aid in achieving optimal public health outcomes.

The Pharmacist and Public Health Preparedness

A confluence of events has refocused attention on the role pharmacists can play in public health planning and emergency preparedness in recently years.

The importance of medication distribution and patient care during disasters is vital, for example. Many local boards of health require that a pharmacist be a member of the group in response to potential public health dangers. Pharmacists often offer alternatives to care and solutions to staff shortages during emergencies and emergency response. 

Improved Access to Quality Care, Prevention of Medical Errors and the Pharmacist

Health care system managers, administrators, and evaluators are intimately involved in assuring appropriate allocation of services to meet patient needs and demands across the world.

Pharmacists can prevent medical errors by: 1) increasing patient health literacy, and 2) serving as a systematic check and balance.

The Institutes of Medicine's book entitled "To Err is Human" reported "Because of the immense variety and complexity of medications now available, it is impossible for nurses or doctors to keep up with all of the information required for safe medication use, so the pharmacist has become the essential resource and thus access to his or her expertise must be possible at all times.

Inclusion of pharmacist services in the clinical services subsystem permits full interaction and use of their. So pharmacists may contribute to the system's management function by providing essential information (e.g., the number and cost of prescriptions dispensed), and meeting the needs of the system by providing health care education and services.

To aid in this expanded role, the pharmacist should be trained to contribute to a variety of public health services and functions, particularly those involving abusable substances and medicines, in our humble opinion. 

Another key area of assurance is access to health services and resources; pharmaceuticals are among the most frequently used therapeutic modalities; there exists a need to provide counseling to patients to assist in increasing compliance with therapeutic regimens based on empirical, up-to-date information to assure that medicines are taken properly.

In an era where chronic (i.e. hypertension and diabetes) and infectious diseases (HIV and tuberculosis) require lengthy medication treatment regimens, pharmacists are vital: these needs, coupled with the need for primary care practitioners in underserved areas, point to the greater use of the pharmacist.

A pharmacist currently contributes to patient care through hospitals, home care, long-term care, community pharmacy or other components of organized health care systems; many inpatient and ambulatory care programs have added a clinical pharmacy segment to the traditional distribution function, and an increasing number of pharmacy practitioners are engaged in clinical practice.

Furthermore, much like the role of the nurse practitioner and physician assistant, the role of the pharmacist has expanded to allow for the provisional prescribing of medications in collaboration with a physician within certain jurisdictions—this function would be critical in areas where there may be a shortage of physicians or other qualified health care professionals.

Pharmacists and Prevention

Through health screenings and health education, pharmacists also play a key role in prevention as well as access to care.

In light of work force shortages among health professionals, pharmacists may act as first responders, providing clinical advice to include over-the-counter (OTC) relief that may aid in decreasing unnecessary emergency room visits for common conditions, for example.

Protocols are often developed and vetted by Pharmacy and Therapeutics (P&T) Advisory Committees; pharmacists are often involved in the clinical management of chronic diseases, and minor disease diagnosis and treatment.

Further, pharmacists provide an excellent source of human capital to the community by conducting primary prevention through health education: primary prevention is the essence of public health. Consequently, greater emphasis regarding the role of pharmacists in the public health infrastructure, in our opinion, needs to be recognized. 

Pharmacists also provide rehabilitation support to individual people and their communities by giving advice on the use and selection of surgical appliances and equipment.

The literature is also abundant with examples of the pharmacist functioning in hypertensive and colorectal screening, sexually transmitted disease control and contraception programs, providing health education, and advising patients of OTC drug choice and use.

In rural areas, pharmacists have supported environmental programs such as water pollution control, chemotherapeutic agents, sanitation, and waste disposal, and their knowledge goes far.

In many rural areas that have fewer available resources, for example, the local pharmacist offers a much needed source of clinical expertise.

This is also true in impoverished urban areas: pharmacists are particularly valuable assets in these disenfranchised sub-sectors of the community, because the pharmacist acts as an easily accessible resource for health information and screening.

Through consultation with local pharmacists, many community members may avoid costly emergency room visits for common acute ailments or conditions that temporary OTC drugs could provide relief, particularly among those lacking insurance.

So pharmacists can play a role in addressing and eliminating health disparities, and we believe that pharmacists, like all health providers, should be engaged in activities which may lead to eliminating health disparities, through cultural competence training, collecting data on medication use in special populations and promoting diversity in the work force.

Pharmacists are essential for our survival, and we think they should be celebrated as such. Are you thinking of joining the global community of pharmacists with a master’s? If so, don’t hesitate to let us know if you’d like some assistance with your master’s application documents.

Statements of Excellence in Pharmacy

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