October 16-22 is National Pharmacy Week. Pharmacy is a large and diverse field filled with people who are responsible for making sure patients receive the most appropriate medications. Today, pharmacists spend years in school earning a doctorate degree and work as medication experts, as part of your health care team.
Many pharmacists work within the community. Frequently voted as one of the most trusted and accessible health care professionals, pharmacists are available at all hours of the day to answer any medication-related questions. In addition to making sure patients get the right medications, these pharmacists also give vaccinations and provide preventative health education and screenings.
Few people know about the pharmacists who work in hospitals. In the hospital, every medication order is double-checked by a pharmacist. Pharmacists make sure patients receive the right drug, with the right dose, at the right time. This is a complicated process and there are many types of hospital pharmacists who work together to make sure everything goes smoothly.
There are pharmacists who manage the medication inventory and those who make sure the right medications leave the pharmacy. Others even examine medication errors and put processes in place to prevent them from happening again.
Some hospitals have clinical pharmacists who see patients daily with the health care team. Clinical pharmacists keep up to date on the most recent medication-related research and work with providers to ensure patients get optimal care. There are a variety of clinical pharmacists who specialize in different areas, such as organ transplantation or oncology. Ask if there is a pharmacist on your team!
This month, get to know your pharmacist. Some pharmacists are readily accessible on the front lines, while others are working behind the scenes. What they share in common is that they are all working hard to keep you healthy!