The concept of medicines & pharmacy influences a lot in the world. Especially western & developed countries strictly following the protocols mentioned by WHO regards medicines’ dispensing & compounding. Now the term ” medical store” is replaced by ” community pharmacy“. Same with the person who holds the prescription at community pharmacy is now termed as “ Community pharmacist”
A few years back when it is not mandatory for pharmacy stores to be run by a pharmacist or run under the licensed pharmacist then simply a chemist performed this job by dispensing & compounding the medicines. With zero knowledge of interactions of the medicines with each other, he was granted authority to dispense medicines. This wrong practice results in extreme cases of adverse effects with self-medication & other problems like increased antimicrobial resistance & adverse effect of medicine instead of beneficial & therapeutic effects
Under such circumstances the need for pharmacist become so mandatory to withstand within a community & keep on eye on the prescriptions as well as its corrects dispensing & compounding. Dispensing & compounding does not only involve reading your prescription & just handover your required medicines without paying any attention to the strength of medicine, their interactions with each other & so more.
Community pharmacist.. qualification & expertise:
A community pharmacist can be well defined as an individual who is a pharmacist by profession & degree holder of Pharm D and practice his field by regulating & monitoring the correct dispensation of medicines within a community. The role of a community pharmacist is another brief topic that is later covered in the same article. In a summarized manner we can say that community pharmacist is required to ensure save & effective transfer of medicines to the general public within a community
Qualifications of community pharmacists include a pharm D degree with license as well as some experience aS training for 6 months under a senior pharmacist at a pharmacy. Fesh graduates must need training or internship to correlate their theoretical knowledge of medicines with practical experience of working.
Community pharmacy stores … A place for your medical products.
Community pharmacy can be defined as a place where the practice of pharmacy occurs under the strict authorization & supervision of pharmacists. specifically community pharmacists. In simpler terms, we can say that a community pharmacy is a place where your prescription get into the right hands for appropriate dispensing & compounding of medications
Community pharmacy centered ae place where you can visit to seek any medical advice from pharmacists & discuss any difficulty you face while taking medications. not only medications each & every item that belongs to the medical field is available at pharmacy store & trained personals are present to guide you about the usage of any medical appliances like blood pressure apparatus or diabetes checker. Besides medicines, the products that are available at pharmacy stores are as follows
- Bandages & first aid
- Sterile products
- Hospital pharmacy solutions
- Medical apparatus & devices
- Mouthwashes & pain-relieving sprays
- Disinfectants & antiseptics
- Vaccines & injectables
- Surgical items like needles, lancets & syringes, etc
- Multivitamins & dietary supplements
Difference b/w community pharmacy & retail pharmacy:
Community pharmacy is often confused with retail pharmacy & in majority of cases, both are considered the same. Both retail or community pharmacy need pharmacists. Well, these both are not the same. There are some major & prominent difference between them mentioned below
- Community pharmacy is a source of providing medicines & another medical item to the general public within a particular community whereas retail pharmacy is responsible to provide stock from industries to small pharmacies
- The pharmacist at community pharmacy has direct contact with patients while pharmacists at retail pharmacies much interaction with medical representatives. As he is mainly concerned with safe storage & transfer of medicines to another community pharmacy.
Most accessible healthcare professional:
Community pharmacists are considered as the most easily accessible healthcare professionals who provide hiss service without the wait for any appointments or under a specific schedule. In most of the countries like USA people get access to them with a walk of 20 – 25 minutes. In the United Kingdom approx 89% of the population who get benefited from services of professionally competent community pharmacists with full devotion & dedication. This aspect of pharmacists raises their worth & respect of the pharmacy profession among the people.
Need for pharmacists at the community pharmacy:
People Believe that only the function of sale & purchase of medicine is carried out at pharmacy stores. Well, people are totally unaware about the safety protocols about the storage of medicines at proper temperature & humidity, careful dispensing & compounding pf narcotics & psychoactive drugs & various other functions are being performed at pharmacy stores that require a skilled person to supervise & monitor each & every function thoroughly & carefully. Pharmacist being a drug expert knows every ins & out of this field of medicines. The functions that are limited to be performed by pharmacists are:
- Dose management
- Dispensing of controlled drugs
- Pediatric & adult dose management
- Duration of antibiotic course
- check interactions of medicines with each other
- Mention contraindications & precautions
Role of community pharmacists:
The actual point of discussion is finally about to start. We discuss each & every role by a pharmacist in detail. It will make you more clear what type of services a communist pharmacist can provide to you. So here we go
1 Maintain hygiene to assure quality:
The pharmacist is the person who is being taught to give life to medicine. So worth of maintaining proper hygiene at the pharmacy store cannot be better understood by a pharmacist. He is responsible to provide a neat & clean environment to the patients coming along with their prescriptions. High level of hygiene works in two ways
- Firstly it provides the medicines with a neat & tidy environment
- Secondly, it is necessary to satisfy the patients & other customers
There is a very strict protocol of cleanliness & tidiness at community pharmacy both at your cash/medicinal counter as well as in the warehouse or store. A single dust particle should not be there. All the shelves & counters should be free with unnecessary items or personal items of the staff.
Documentation is one of the most necessary parts of the job. Each & everything should be in black & white. Documentation evidence help pharmacist to maintain a record of patient’s prescription, billing & all the work done either in terms of payments or manual work. Description records help the pharmacist in the future in case of any troubling situation regards the patient’s health. It’s somehow a hardworking & time-consuming work to maintain sheets on daily bases & report everything in written form but it will save pharmacist in future mess & problems while on other hand patient history & prescription record is also generated with time to time.
3 Prescription evaluation:
Community Pharmacists when holding the prescription can evaluate all the mentioned medicines in a single glance that whether all the medications are safe in use with each other or not, Either these are the first line of agent for the disease of patients or not. All these points that a physician might focus on concern must thoroughly be observed by the community pharmacist beforehand over any medications. Community pharmacy is the last check post to notice any blunder or mistake by the physician in prescription writing. If it is not filtered here then there will not be any other chance to correct it & wrong medicine will be consumed by patients with its peak of side effects.
4 Patient counseling:
Patient counseling is much necessary for people by community pharmacists as they don’t have any idea about what are they have mentioned in their prescription & physician who write this prescription mostly don’t inform anything about the specifications of medicines. Sometimes prescriptions are do not mentioned potency of the drug, sometimes the frequency of dose is missing. Here Pharmacist is the main body to mention each & everything to the patient that whether this medicine is once daily or twice daily, whether it should be taken before bed or after bed. whether it should be taken with food or after food and so many other general descriptions that patients need to know about its medicine & it is obviously not mentioned in their prescriptions.
5 Keep patience with patients:
Patients that are already worried while fighting with their disease or their family member who comes at community pharmacy for purchasing medicines are most of the time very aggressive. At that moment it will be a difficult task for a community pharmacist to make them understand why their medicine is not available or why it is gonna out of stock? A high level of temper is required to handle this messy situation & need a very kind & humble response by a pharmacist to do his best for either arranging their medications or giving them some alternative brands for the same generic with correct potency & frequency.
6 Check expiry from time to time:
Community pharmacist ensures his customers that not any expired product will be served to them. For this purpose expiry dates of the inventory, medication is noted monthly for the next six months. Medicines having expiry dates for next months are discarded immediately while products having expiry after 3 months are placed on a separate shelf so they will be sold first or at least do not sold after 3 months. While medications having expiry after 4 months till 7 the months are recorded in excel sheets so there will not be any chance of mistake that causes a life-threatening situation to patients.
7 Control environmental conditions:
Community pharmacists maintain environmental conditions like temperature, humidity to a fixed value. It should not exceed more than that otherwise caused degradations of the medications. These records are maintained on a daily bases. The first thing a community pharmacist mentions after stepping in a pharmacy store is to record the temperature & time of the normal room & of the refrigerator where the medicines are being kept.
8 Prescription authority:
Community pharmacist has prescription authority & they can make changes in your prescription. They can select an alternative medicine of the same brand or make some slight change in the potency of your drug. Under such conditions, patients are unable to understand the prescription authority of pharmacists & insisted on the medicines written on prescriptions by their physicians.
9 Refill everything:
Community pharmacists won’t get a single minute free. Half filled shelves or empty racks are waiting for them to refill. All the medicines from new stock have to place in order & correct sequence. Syrups, tablets. Injectables & other surgical items have to place by pharmacists on their respective shelves. This work can be done by co-workers or pharmacy technicians but still, a community pharmacist is required for strict supervision. The stock should be placed with the protocol of FIFO ( First in first out) which means that medicines from previous stock should place at the front to be sold first & new stock should be placed after that.
General queries about community pharmacists:
Q Is there any doctor here in this community pharmacy?
A This is the most repeated question asked by people to a staff of community pharmacy. Here we explained that doctor of medicines i.e pharmacist is here to help you in clearing any type of confusion in taking these medicines
That how interaction being developed and people start to get the point that what is the need for pharmacists at the community pharmacy store & how can he help us. So people become comfortable with pharmacists & discussing their medical issues with them.
Q Are pharmacists doctors?
A Another question that pharmacists usually face is to prove themselves as doctors. Well, It is already discussed in detail in the previous article to elaborate with the justification that either is a pharmacist doctor or not. However to highlight the significance of community pharmacists it is enough to mention that they are a doctor of medicines & give you expert advice about medications so feel free to consult them without doubting their knowledge.
Q What to ask from your pharmacists?
A The most important point is to know what type of queries will be answered by pharmacists. You can get benefits from knowledge of pharmacists by asking some general questions about your medicines & he will mention all those key facts which will make your medications more effective.
- You can verify your prescription by a pharmacists
- You can discuss any problem in case of intaking medicines like the flavor or color or smell of medicines bother you or any other problem can be solved by community pharmacists
- You can ask the individual action of each & every medicine mentioned in the prescription.
- In case of any expensive products yo can demand pharmacists to give si=ome less expensive alternative
- In case of any doubt about side effects, you can clearly discuss this with pharmacists
- For a general disease like cold flu, headache, muscular pain, toothache seasonal allergies & cough, asthma, vomiting, etc you can use the medicines prescribed by a pharmacist without consulting physician
Q how to increase your interaction with community pharmacists?
A Community pharmacist is like a busy bee & doesn’t have a minute to waste with it. Still, they try their best to satisfy their customer plus patients with responsible behavior. You don’t have to do any extra to get benefited from the services of community pharmacists except showing respect to them as part of the health care professional. Community pharmacist doesn’t demand anything except trust, respect & firm belief from the side of a customer.
Community pharmacists are health care professionals who give you medical advice & suggestion without charging any extra fee. They filter your prescriptions & choose best for you. They stand with attention during their hours of duty with attention & attend customers with responsibility. It will be nice of you to Show a cooperative behavior with your pharmacist as they are your medication experts.
A student of Pharm D from University of Karachi. She has keen interest in all the attributes towards pharmacy especially community pharmacy and hospital pharmacy with an objective to make medications sound and safe. She loves to provide information about Pharmaceutical Analysis and Pharmacology in a best way so people with no medical background can understand.