March is Pharmacist Awareness Month (PAM), a time to celebrate the contributions that pharmacists make to the Canadian healthcare system. PAM also provides a key opportunity for us to educate the public on the valuable services we deliver.
“I didn’t know pharmacists could do that!”
This is a common reaction we hear when offering new services to pharmacists. To some patients, anything beyond the dispensing role of a pharmacist is news to them.
That’s why this year, the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) is encouraging Canadians to Rethink Pharmacists. This campaign showcases the significant strides that pharmacists have made in the ability to deliver patient-centered care, and cement our profession as having an invaluable and indispensable place in our healthcare system.
As pharmacists, we know that we are medication experts. However, we often forget that we are also capable of doing phar more. With the expansion of pharmacy practice that allows us to practice to the full scope of our knowledge and skills, we are helping our patients achieve the best overall health.
Before we ask our patients if they know what pharmacists can do for them, take a moment to reflect on your own practice and introspectively Rethink Pharmacists. Rethink the way you view yourself as a pharmacist, and it will show to your patients!
Here are 7 reasons why you should be proud to be a pharmacist:
1) We are accessible.
Did you know that patients see their community pharmacists up to 10x more frequently than they see their family physicians? With over 41,000 licensed pharmacists working in 10,000 pharmacies across Canada, we are one of the most accessible healthcare professionals for Canadians. Pharmacists are also generally available without appointments, and in the evenings, on weekends, and on holidays when seeking other care is more difficult.
By the numbers:
– More than 41,000 pharmacists in Canada
– 10,400 community pharmacies
– 15% work in hospitals
– 15% work in industry, government and academia
– 70% work in community pharmacies
2) We are trusted.
Pharmacists consistently rank as one of the most trusted professions in Canada. 93% of Canadians have a positive impression of pharmacists and believe that pharmacists play an essential or important role in Canada’s healthcare system. Most Canadians trust pharmacists to provide advice on medications (96%), management of common or minor ailments (93%), management of chronic diseases (90%), healthy lifestyle changes (90%), and vaccinations (87%).
3) We are doing more for patients than ever before.
Although every province and territory is different, pharmacists across the country are able to deliver a broader range of services compared to just a few years ago. We are doing more for our patients, including:
4) We improve the health of patients.
Pharmacist-led interventions and services improve the health of Canadians, such as increasing the likelihood of patients quitting smoking and improving vaccination rates, like the annual influenza shot.
With extended adapting and/or prescribing authority, pharmacists improve the health of patients even further. When pharmacists have the ability to prescribe for minor ailments, the condition improves with symptom resolution in 81% of patients. With prescribing authority to manage chronic diseases, pharmacists help patients achieve better control, such as improved blood pressure control, improved glycemic control and more patients reaching LDL targets.
5) We provide value to the healthcare system.
Pharmacist-led services and interventions improve access to care, reduce wait times and alleviate pressures on the healthcare system, and decrease emergency room visits. These improvements to the healthcare system ultimately helps save the healthcare system money.
6) We are healthcare leaders.
As pharmacists are one of the most accessible and trusted healthcare professionals, we play a leading role in finding solutions to some of the key challenges facing our healthcare system today. Pharmacists are leaders in addressing issues such as the opioid crisis, improving mental health care, increasing immunization rates, deprescribing, and reducing the overall burden on the healthcare system.
7) We save lives.
By being the first point of contact with the healthcare system for many patients, pharmacists have unique opportunities to help patients in a number of situations.
Patients come to pharmacists for advice on OTC products and supplements. When one pharmacist heard the list of symptoms a patient looking for Vitamin D pills had, she knew he had a serious condition and urged him to immediately go to the emergency room. This saved his life.
Patients are finding it difficult to make appointments to see their physicians on the same day, and to avoid long wait times they seek advice from their pharmacist. When one patient visited her pharmacy because she didn’t want to go to the hospital after being stung by a bee and was experiencing difficulty breathing, her pharmacist immediately recognized the severity of her symptoms and calmly gave her an epinephrine injection. This saved her life.
Pharmacists have the knowledge and scope to help patients in emergencies. When a patient was found unresponsive in the bathroom due to an opioid overdose, the pharmacist knew she had to administer naloxone to him. This saved his life.
While you may not have been so directly involved in saving a patient’s life, we do so everyday as the last line of defense for patients receiving medications. You may not be a hero on every prescription you check, but there are definitely those where you have helped protect a patient by catching an error, drug interaction, or therapeutic inefficacy.
This March, take a moment to reflect on your profession and practice as a pharmacist, and make sure you rethink your value as a pharmacist. Then, encourage your patients to Rethink Pharmacists by making sure they know what you can do for them.
Here are some tips and resources to help you encourage your patients to Rethink Pharmacists:
- Become familiar with the expanded scope of practice in your province.
- Talk to your patients, friends and family about the services you provide.
- Incorporate new services into your daily practice.
- Make PAM posters, handouts and videos available at your pharmacy and on your pharmacy’s and/or your personal social media.
- Visit the websites of pharmacy organizations, advocacy associations, pharmacy schools and pharmacy student societies to find more resources, news, and events going on throughout March for PAM.
To celebrate Pharmacists Awareness Month and to encourage you to reflect on your role as a pharmacist, I’m hosting a contest to win this notebook (designed by me!)
There are a number of ways to enter this contest. Each method will count as a new entry into the contest, and increases the chances of you winning!
How to enter:
- Post a comment on the following RxNotes’ posts about why you are proud to be a pharmacist (or pharmacy student). Each comment on a different social media site counts as a separate entry, so the more sites you comment on, the greater your chances of winning are!
- BONUS ENTRY: post this graphic with a customized message telling us why you’re proud to be a pharmacist (or pharmacy student) on social media. Tag RxNotes to enter, and don’t forget to include the hashtags #PAM2019 and #ThinkPharmacists.
The contest will close on March 31st at 11:59 pm. Good luck!