Several members in the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy community come from rural hometown settings. Coming from a rural background has provided each of us with unique opportunities as well as obstacles. For me personally, my hometown has one stop sign, one gas station, and the closest hospitals are forty-five minutes in either direction. The lack of access to quality health care is evident in the southern Appalachian coal fields. Diseases like diabetes, COPD, and heart disease run rampant in these areas, and I personally believe that if small communities like my own had better access to health professionals, we could possibly see a decline in these disease states. What makes my hometown unique is that we have four pharmacies serving our community. If pharmacists could obtain provider status, communities like mine would have so many new opportunities to improve their health outcomes. After all, the wellbeing of our patients is the main concern for all health care providers.
Pharmacists are unique in the healthcare field because we have extensive medication knowledge. We know how medications work, how they interact, and what to keep an eye on in our patients. Pharmacy schools are now training students to have more clinical backgrounds which can mean wonders for overall patient care. We are being taught to read labs, perform more tests, give more immunizations, acquire deeper understandings of disease states, and yes spend more hours with our noses in our books. Because of this, we are an incredibly underutilized resource for managing several disease states. Patients managing diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, coagulation therapy, etc. that undergo frequent medication adjustments would benefit greatly from someone with our medical expertise. We would not only be able to ensure that our patients were receiving the correct medication at the correct dosage, we would also be able to help lighten the burden on the already overworked providers. It’s easy to see that we are experiencing a major decline in primary care providers which is only adding further burden on our emergency rooms, doctors’ offices, and worst of all, our patients.
In conclusion, allowing pharmacists to obtain provider status would not only benefit other health care providers, but it would also provide more accessible healthcare for our patients. Through this, we can add another crucial resource for managing common disease states and in return improve health outcomes as well as remove some of the load on our surrounding hospitals and doctors’ offices. It is for all the afore mentioned reasons that I, as well as many other students who share my background, are so passionate about this next step in the profession of pharmacy. We took an oath to serve our patients and our communities and this would allow us to better fulfill that responsibility.
Contributor: Danielle Hoff