What is Pharmacy?

This is a picture of a pills. The pills are a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes This is a picture of a man consulting his pharmacist. The pharmacist is holding a pill bottle and looks like she is explaining something to the man

“Why would you want to count pills all day for the rest of your life?”    

This is something that I hear quite frequently when I tell people that I am going to school to become a pharmacist. People tend to misinterpret the role of pharmacist, and believe that their role is simply to provide patients with their medications. However, the role of a pharmacist is so much more than counting and dispensing pills. Pharmacists play a vital role within the healthcare system.

Pharmacists go to school for 6-8 years in order to gain valuable information about medications, medication interactions, and so much more. This makes pharmacists experts in this topic, therefore, they can assist doctors and other healthcare providers with medication related decisions. Pharmacists work as a team with doctors, nurses, and other health professionals in order to provide the best care possible for patients. I have witnessed this type of interaction in my own personal life when I interned at a hospital a few summers ago. The doctors made countless phone calls to the pharmacists asking them for their advice on which medications to prescribe, what dose to prescribe, and if certain medications will interaction. Through their work pharmacists can make life-saving interventions and prevent many medication errors.

Pharmacists not only play a vital role in assisting doctors, they also interact with patients. Pharmacists are the people that explain to patients what a certain medication does and why they are taking it. Often times, patients are on many medications and they may not know or remember what each medication is for. Pharmacists are there to explain this to patients so that they can take their medications correctly and be aware of what they are for. Pharmacists also educate patients about the importance of taking their medications so that their illnesses do not progress or come back. They teach patients that even if you feel better you shouldn’t stop taking your medication because this could result in negative consequences.

Pharmacists are present in many different kinds of settings. Pharmacists can work in hospitals, in drug stores, in the army, in drug research, in the government, and so many other places. Pharmacists have a great impact on our communities and even on our country. Pharmacists provide many different services and programs that teach people about medication safety or even about how to care for a specific illness. Pharmacists also play a vital role in the discovery of new medications that can be used to cure various diseases. Pharmacists participate in government by taking an active stand on important health issues and assisting policy makers with drug related topics.

The role and importance of a pharmacist is very far-reaching. I am sure that almost every person has interacted with a pharmacist at at least some point in their life. Pharmacists have impacted our world in many ways: from the development of the medications that we take, to the dispensing of our medications, and even in the policies that govern drugs. Their impact is seen in many aspects of health care.

Pharmacists do so much more than count pills. Even if their work is not always directly seen, they are making a huge impact on health care and their interventions have bettered the lives of so many people. Pharmacists are medication experts, helpers, teachers, leaders, and professionals.