Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What does a pharmacist do in the community setting?

This year I am going to be spending a ton of time in all different areas of pharmacy to prepare me for my career. I have a few required rotations and a few elective ones in order to accomplish this. Over the next few months, I am starting a new mini series to give you all a "small dose" of what pharmacists do in each area of practice that I am in. Hopefully you all will learn that we do so much more than "count, pour, lick, and stick" and also get a taste of what I am doing during the day!

"What does a pharmacist do in the community setting?" By community, I mean "retail", or where you would go as an outpatient to get a prescription filled. I once heard our jobs summed up as preparing medication for a patient and then preparing the patient for the medication. I think that is a great one-liner, but I would like to dig in and tell you what that means.

Prescriptions arrive at a pharmacy through patient delivery, phone calls from physicians, or over an online system. When all goes well the process usually goes like this: A trained technician interprets the handwriting (I feel sorry for all of you pharmacists that have to read my husband's handwriting one day!), bills insurance, and packages the medication. The pharmacist then double checks everything, assessing the appropriateness of therapy and any possible drug interactions. For this reason, I am a huge proponent of getting ALL of your medications filled at the same place!! Our clinical knowledge mainly goes into this part. Then, when a patient comes to pick up a prescription, a cashier handles the transaction and the pharmacist answers any questions the patient may have.

More often than you would think, things don't go this perfectly! We call the prescriber to have various things changed and errors fixed. One really annoying thing is insurance problems, and we end up spending a lot of time on the phone trying to get medications covered for people. In the community setting, pharmacists also recommend treatments for over-the-counter products, give immunizations, and manage inventory.

One of my passions is a new idea in pharmacy called Medication Therapy Management (MTM) where a pharmacist and patient do a complete medication review together. There are currently many barriers to this, but it is becoming more common and I am excited about it!

My most favorite thing about community pharmacy is building relationships with people. In a community setting, pharmacists are the most accessible health care professionals. Most pharmacies are open at least 12 hours a day, if not all 24, and no appointments are necessary. What a cool thing to be able to meet people where they are when they are the sickest and weakest and be able to provide help and encouragement!

One of my least favorite things about community pharmacy is the push for productivity. Let's be honest, have you ever had your pharmacist spend much time counseling you?! Probably not. Unfortunately pharmacies, like any other business today, is ultimately about the money. This means overworked pharmacists and understaffed pharmacies... and little time to spend time with patients.

As mentioned here, I am currently on a rotation at Barney's Pharmacy, an independently-owned community pharmacy in Augusta, GA. Barney's has given me a great vision of how pharmacists can expand these traditional roles. Among many other things, I have received training for the Omnipod (the new cordless insulin pump), counseled patients, communicated with doctors' offices, administered immunizations, taught health and wellness classes, participated in chair aerobics, and seen patients with the PA in the medical clinic to determine treatment decisions. They have incorporated clinical services into the community setting very well!

Hmm...I am sure I have left some things out, but this is all for tonight! Sorry for the lack of pictures, but I hope you found this interesting!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Saturday Morning Reflection

"People Do Not Drift Towards Holiness" by Josh Etler and DA Carson

Hard work is not the opposite of grace, it is the result of experiencing grace. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I am alive and well!

Despite my preconceived notions from Augusta's nickname "disgusta", I am having a great time here! I am quickly adjusting to a new place and rotations, but unfortunately, blogging has definitely taken a back seat. Thank you all for your prayers for me leading up to and during this time. Although I haven't been great about responding, your texts, voicemails, and emails have been such an encouragement to me. I know a few of you are curiously awaiting an update...

Caroline's family is AWESOME. They have welcomed me as a child into their home. I am overwhelmed by their hospitality and am reminded of the story in Acts 16 where Lydia opens her home freely to Paul and his friends. I am pretty sure I live in the best place around...

Barney's, the pharmacy that brought me here, has met and exceeded all of my high expectations. I work with very smart and personable people who love to teach me! It is a huge independent retail pharmacy with a focus on patient counseling, community service, immunizations, and compounding. They also have a medical clinic with two doctors and a durable medical equipment shop that specializes in ostomy care, diabetes supplies, and mastectomy support. Barney's packs medications and consults for 1,500 long term care beds in the area as well. My days are usually 8 to 5 and consist of assisting the retail pharmacists, patient counseling, topic discussions, project presentations, and wellness classes. I even get to participate in chair aerobics and bingo with the seniors! It is a very unique and challenging environment, and I have loved being a part of it!

There is a solid Christian community at Barney's that is really encouraging to me! Not only am I learning (and relearning!) a ton of school things, but I am also seeing how the pharmacists intertwine faith and their careers. Bible verses are posted everywhere and praying with patients is commonplace. Through community service, Barney's is a leader in the Augusta community and the nation. It seems a little strange to think the route to leadership is service, but what a great picture of Christ here on earth!
Barney's pharmacy and Hope medical clinic
Wellness Classes
Georgia fans!!
 I already have 2 favorite running spots...the North Augusta Greenway and the Augusta Canal. I wish you were here, Patricia, to run them with me!
North Augusta Greenway
North Augusta Greenway
Augusta Canal 
Augusta Canal 
Augusta Canal
I MISS Cole A LOT and eagerly await the weekends when I can wrap my arms around him.

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