Know Your Pharmacist

Ask A Pharmacist

Know Your Pharmacist

Who Is Your Pharmacist?

The pharmacist is an integral part of your health care team. To be licensed to practice one must complete at least 4-6 years of specialized university education, followed by a pharmacy provincial law exam and a 1 year internship.

The pharmacist is a drug expert who knows what the drug is, what diseases and conditions it treats, how it works, how it is best taken, what other drugs it may interfere with and its side effects. Ongoing learning through continuing education programs keep the pharmacist up to date with new drug developments.

How Is Your Pharmacist Involved?

The pharmacist ensures the medication prescribed by your physician is the correct dose and frequency for you and does not duplicate or interfere with any of your other medications. The pharmacist works closely with the pharmacy technician to dispense the medication as prescribed.

The pharmacist is also available to answer your questions about non-prescription medications and natural products. The pharmacist consults with your physician about drug related problems and answers questions from physicians, nurses and other health care providers about drug therapy.

Where Is Your Pharmacist?

Community pharmacists work in drug stores, medical clinics, department stores and grocery stores. Some receive additional training in compounding drugs in dosage forms not commercially available (compounding pharmacies).

Hospital pharmacists work in hospitals and many attend patient rounds with other health professionals. In academic teaching hospitals the pharmacist is often involved in teaching other hospital staff about drug therapy.

Pharmacists can be involved in government agencies, drug information centres, drug companies, professors in university and college curriculum, and preceptors to pharmacist students.

How Your Pharmacist Can Help Optimize Your Pain Control

Use ONE pharmacy so a complete medication list is on file for the pharmacist to check for drug interactions, additive effects, and side effects. This also helps you and your pharmacist select non-prescription (over-the-counter) products most appropriate for your medical and medication history.

The pharmacist becomes familiar with your health history and can dialogue with you to provide the most effective drug therapy for you.

The pharmacist has on file your drug allergies/sensitivities and drug plan information  enabling consultation with your physician about an alternate drug that may be more compatible with your health and drug plan needs.

Some provinces have programs in place e.g. Med Check in Ontario, where you can make an appointment with your pharmacist to discuss your medications in detail.

Ask your pharmacist questions about your pain and pain care needs. Pharmacists have the most training on drugs and their effects in the body. If your question is better answered by another health care provider or other resource they can often facilitate the process or provide a suggestion.

Janice E. Sumpton RPh., BScPhm.     March, 2009