Greg Guenther, Dierbergs Markets, Director of Pharmacy
Pharmacists have a tremendous amount of information about health-related topics. They have access to drug information and disease information. Most individuals see their pharmacist much more often than their doctor.
Pharmacists think of themselves as your teammate in caring for your health and are available to provide medical information and answer your questions.
Questions, that is key. Pharmacists will ask questions in order to understand your health needs and to help you understand your health needs. There are also questions you should be asking of your pharmacists as outlined in the three questions below.
These same three questions may be asked of you by your pharmacist to assure you understand the purpose, effects, and usage of your medication. By asking these questions you are taking charge of your health and maximizing the effectiveness of your medications by establishing a relationship with your pharmacist.
This strategy is quite simple and, in one form or another, is the foundation for patient-relations curriculum at all major pharmacy colleges. So it’s likely that your pharmacist will start this discussion with you. If not, don’t be shy about engaging your pharmacist. He or she should be an active, invaluable member of your healthcare team.
With that, here is your cheat sheet:
- For what is this medication prescribed? You’d be surprised at how many patients are unsure. “My doctor told me this was something I needed.” Vice versa, you can ensure the medications you receive are for the ailment prescribed. The first step to managing an illness is to understand everything you are doing to improve your health, whether that’s pharmaceutical means, diet or lifestyle changes. Your pharmacist can help with that understanding.
- What can I expect from this medication? This question is dual purpose: Find out how quickly you can expect it to improve your health, as well as the potential side effects. (As far as side effects, ask what you should reasonably expect – that’ll save you much anxiety as you go about the business of getting better.) And ask if there are any side effects that should trigger a call to your physician for immediate medical attention. A good pharmacist will wade through the fluff and explain only the key concerns -- information that will stick with you better than anything you may or may not read on your drug information sheet. (Still, read your fact sheet.)
- How do I use this medication?
Your pharmacist can ensure you understand your doctor’s precise dosage recommendations closing the doctor-patient-pharmacist communication loop. Pharmacists can also provide best techniques for using eye drops, inhalers, nasal sprays, topical products and other dosage forms.
Don’t ever be hesitant to call the pharmacists for reminders or to ask additional questions.
Pharmacists have six years of pharmacy college education and are happy to share their knowledge with you. They do much more than just count and pour, so expect much more of them.