Script Your Future – Tips on Talking With Your Pharmacist About Using Medications Safely

Script Your FuturePharmacists are a valuable resource for patients when they have questions about their medications. Being the drug experts means that pharmacists are well-educated in both prescription and non-prescription medications. If you or someone you know have any questions about your medications and how to take them safely, contact your local pharmacist!

When speaking with your pharmacist regarding your medications, it is very important to give him/her any information about your health and current medications. Things to inform your pharmacist about include: any food or drug allergies, if you have any restrictions that could influence your ability to take medications (i.e. difficulty swallowing), a list of all your current medications and health conditions, and if you are pregnant or may become pregnant, etc.

When asking your pharmacist, or any other healthcare professional for that matter, a question regarding your care it can be helpful to write down a list of questions you want to ask them. Examples of questions to ask your pharmacist:

  1. What are the brand and generic names?
  2. What is this for, and how is it going to help me?
  3. How and when should I use it? How much do I use?
  4. How long should I use it? Can I stop using the medicine or use less if I feel better?
  5. What should I do if I miss a dose or use too much?
  6. When will the medicine start working? How should I expect to feel?

When talking with your pharmacist about your medications, be sure you write down any important information they tell you, take home and read any pamphlets of information provided to you, and make sure you have the pharmacy’s phone number in case you need to call back for further questions! Once you get home, there are additional steps you can take to ensure you are taking your medications safely and properly. Tips for safe medication use at-home include: double checking the label on the bottle to make sure you are taking the correct medication, using proper measuring devices (syringes, medication spoons, etc.) to get the correct dose, and following proper storage directions for the medication (refrigeration, away from light, etc.).

For more helpful tips on how to talk to your pharmacist and take your medications safely, visit www.fda.gov/usemedicinesafely

Provider Status and Pharmacists: What’s the Connection?

Healthcare delivery in the United States and around the world faces various challenges including increased cost, improving quality, and reduced access. More people have the benefit to receive care and live healthy lives, however, there is a shortage in the number of healthcare professionals available to provide their care. By 2025 there is a projected fall in the availability in the number of physicians in the United States based on the huge gap in the supply and demand in this field. Costs are rising because the few available physicians must work more to accommodate all patients. This creates a unique opportunity for pharmacists to provide care to patients, especially if they receive official national recognition as healthcare providers and given the right to expand the services allowed under their scope of practice.

Per the Department of Health and Human Services, it is projected that there will be about 368,000 active pharmacists in the United States by 2030. By then, the general population will increase in number as well, making the need for healthcare professionals rise even further. Pharmacists are among the most trusted healthcare professionals due to their availability and personal relationships with their patients. However, in the Social Security Act, pharmacists are not formally recognized as healthcare providers. Even though they work in a wide-reaching field ranging from clinical specialties, to community/retail pharmacies, geriatrics, ambulatory care, and industry and research, they have not been given the privilege to be fully accepted as providers, and thus, cannot bill Medicare Part B for their services. This is the reason why all pharmacists must support and advocate for the provider status movement which was initiated in March March 2014.

Another reason why pharmacists should be recognized as providers is their status as health care professionals with extensive, thorough, and specific knowledge about drugs. Pharmacists have increased availability to patients, especially those in rural/underserved areas, and often work extended hours. A patient can walk into a community pharmacy at any time of the day to ask questions regarding any health concerns, medications being taken, or anything pertaining to their health and have a trained professional there to assist them. This means that, at some levels, pharmacists spend more time with their patients than physicians. Pharmacists often see the same patients come to the store everyday just to have conversations, which allows them to become more familiar with the patients and develop personal relationships with them. These relationships create trust between both sides and trust happens to be to the number one value that health care professionals need for their patients to believe that they are receiving the best care possible. Physicians have limited time to spend with their patients, and their encounters are very limited, which is why developing personal relationships and higher levels of trust with their patients is more difficult than that of pharmacists.

It’s easy to see how pharmacists play an important role in providing efficient and high-quality patient care. Pharmacists have vast knowledge regarding drugs, and are valuable for drug therapy management. With the introduction of Point Of Care Testing (POCT), most pharmacists have the ability to provide primary basic care to patients even when visiting local community pharmacies. Therefore, it is necessary for pharmacists to be formally recognized as providers so they can reach their full potential as professionals and help more patients receive the adequate health care they deserve.

Contributed by Koffi Amegadje, NCPA Community Outreach Chair, Class of 2020

Life After Pharmacy School: It DOES Exist!

As a current student and tour guide to UCSOP applicants, I often joke that students look forward to two very specific days in their pharmacy school careers. The first being the day they get accepted into pharmacy school, and the second quickly becomes the day they graduate. As soon as the first year starts, students are already thinking about graduation. They wish for no more all-nighters, 3-hour lectures, or K-type or “Select All of the Above” exam questions. Instead, they dream of getting paid for saving lives and helping people receive their medications.

Now we have someone to give hope to all of those current and future pharmacy students! Today’s feature puts the spotlight on UCSOP alumnus Carly Preece (formerly Marcum) from the Class of 2014. Dr. Preece was generous enough to grant us an interview detailing her life after graduation and showing us that there is light at the end of the tunnel!

Q: Please tell us a little bit about yourself! Where are you from? Any hobbies or interests?

Dr. Preece: My name is Carly Preece (formerly Marcum). I am from Pike County in Kentucky. I recently married Chase Preece. I have an older brother, Justin Marcum (lawyer and House of Delegates member), 2 nieces, and 5 nephews. I enjoy working out, running, spending time with family, and cheering on my alma mater, the University of Kentucky Wildcats. Go Cats!

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Q: Could you tell us a little bit about your duties as a pharmacist? What’s your daily day life? Do you enjoy your job? How do you feel about taking on students?

Dr. Preece: I work at Kmart Pharmacy (Patrick St and Kanawha City stores). My days are crazy and busy, but I enjoy my job and never take a day for granted. I do a little bit of everything in the pharmacy. My days involve opening the store, running out auto-fill prescriptions for the day, answering phone calls and counseling, giving immunizations, calling insurance companies, checking and filling prescriptions, completing the daily drug orders, and when time allows, checking the inventory for outdates. The most important and enjoyable part of my job though, is when I feel that I am making a difference in a patient’s life and/or when I am able to teach them something about their medications that they didn’t already know. I enjoy having students at the store and try to make everything a learning experience. I feel that on-hand experience is the best way of learning and nothing can take the place of that.

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Q: We recently heard you were married! How do you handle or maintain a balance between work and your personal life?

Dr. Preece: My husband and I were married just after I graduated. We recently bought a house out of the Charleston area too, so I currently have a little drive to work. Time management is crucial, since I usually do 10 or 12 hour days. I don’t have much time to do anything else after work. However, my husband and I have definitely developed a routine and take turns making dinner, completing house chores, and running errands depending on our schedules. We try to balance time with our friends and family, as well as with each other, since these are very important to the both of us. Life after pharmacy school is great though. It took me 8 years to get there but all the hard work was definitely worth it. I feel extremely blessed and no matter how stressful my days can be sometimes, I never take my job for granted.

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Q: Could you take us back to when you were a student in UCSOP? What was your favorite class? What was the most challenging class for you? Any suggestions for current students?

Dr. Preece: I enjoyed pharmacy school for the most part. There were ups and downs, of course. Some classes were easy for me, while others were harder. It was a lot of hard work, but I knew there was nothing else I wanted to do. My favorite class was therapy, though. I enjoy the clinical aspect of pharmacy and therapy brought everything together that I had been learning for the first 2.5 years in pharmacy school.

My greatest advice is to never fall behind. I stayed on top of every class, the best I could, so I didn’t have to cram. You learn better that way and the information stays with you for the long term. Every night, I would always read before therapy and was prepared for class so that when the teacher lectured, I was able to listen. It was just reinforcing everything I learned the night before.

You also have to prioritize your duties because sometimes you can get too much on your plate, which is another reason why it is crucial to stay on top of things and make the best of your time. When you are in class, make the best of it and pay attention. Yes, I know it is hard sometimes to pay attention for hours at a time, but I just pushed myself. I knew that when I went home, I would rather relax for a bit, go for a run, and spend time with my future husband/family/friends, instead re-reading everything. It is also equally important to make “fun time” as well and remember to enjoy this part of your life.

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Q: Do you have any other long-term goals or dreams?

Dr. Preece: I feel very content right now. I feel like I have achieved my dreams. I am married, just bought a house, have a great job, amazing friends and family, and doing what I love to do. My long-term goals now are to work on starting a family with my husband, paying off my student loans, and striving on a daily basis to do great things for my patients. I take great pride in my job and always want to make a patient feel like they can come talk to me anytime about anything.

We would like to thank Dr. Carly Preece for her help with this post, as well as P3 Juhee Kim, who interns at K-Mart with Dr. Preece! Without them, this post would not be nearly as entertaining or informative!

 

Contributed by Peter Relvas UC SOP Pharmacy Student & Graduate Intern, Office of Professional and Student Affairs.