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Do you Know YOUR Pharmacist?

With Karen Brown, Owner – TerryWhite Chemmart Samford and Arana Hills

Think about all the professionals that form your health care team. I am sure you can name your GP, dentist, physiotherapist, podiatrist, dietitian, psychologist or any specialist you may visit once or twice a year. I am sure you go to the same practice every time because they know you and your medical history; and you know and trust them with your health. This same philosophy should apply to your pharmacist. By visiting the same pharmacy every time, you are building a valuable relationship with a trusted health professional and ensuring your health and your medical history is always in good hands.

Why did I Choose to Become a Pharmacist?

I knew I wanted to be a pharmacist when I was 14 because I wanted to help people with their health. My mission is to redefine how people view their community pharmacy – we are so much more than a place to get your prescription dispensed or, as some people say, a “box with a label on it”!

First and foremost, pharmacists are ‘medicine experts’. We spend 4 years at university and a supervised intern year studying medications. Basic science says for every action there is a reaction. Every time you ingest, apply, inhale, inject, instill or insert a medication, a reaction will occur in your body. As pharmacists we love understanding these reactions, good and bad, and sharing our knowledge with you so that you are using your medications optimally and safely.

Medication Safety is Paramount.

In Australia, there are close to 250,000 hospital admissions every year are due to medication-related problems, costing our health system $1.4 billion. Your pharmacy is the central hub linking you to our broader health care team. Did you know that one of the first places called when you arrive at the emergency department is your local pharmacy so the admitting doctor can gain your recent dispensing history? If you visit numerous pharmacies it is very difficult for the doctor to gain an accurate history and to know if you started a new antibiotic or changed medications recently that may have caused your admission.

It’s futile also contacting your GP, reading your medication list in your wallet/purse or checking your My Health record , because in Australia 50% of patients with a chronic illness don’t take their medications as prescribed and 20-30% of prescriptions written never get filled. Therefore, a history from your local pharmacy is likely to give the most accurate representation of what medication you are actually taking, how compliant you are in filling your prescriptions as well as detailing any recent changes to medications from any prescriber, not just your GP.

Optimise Your Medication Routine

Many pharmacies now offer a solution to improve medication management and adherence in the form of Dose Administration Aids (DAAs). These can be presented as either Webster Packs (plastic containers that divide your pills into daily/weekly/monthly doses) or sachet rolls. You might be saying to yourself, “I haven’t lost my marbles yet so I can look after my medication myself”. However, increasingly now busy professionals and parents of young children are utilising the convenience of DAAs to free up time for things that are more important to them.

Another benefit of DAAs is they contain all your personal information, the exact details of the medication, the name of your pharmacy and they provide a visual representation of how compliant the patient has been. As a carer, this is invaluable and as a patient, particularly one prone to forgetting things, this is critical. Keep in mind also, your doctors and specialists liaise directly with your pharmacy to ensure your medications are always kept up to date.

What About Advances in Technology?

The TerryWhite Chemmart Health App is also another great tool to have in the palm of your hand when you are visiting your doctor or specialist as it shows the status of your medications -when they were last dispensed and when the next ones are due – as well as providing other health measurements such as blood pressure results you may have had taken in the pharmacy. It’s also very easy to operate and can also be shared with a carer via carer mode.

So Much More than a Pharmacy

Pharmacists are primarily known for dispensing prescriptions and a place to visit when you are sick, but more and more people are now visiting their local pharmacy to stay well, utilise health services and seek advice on minor ailments. This is why I love being a pharmacist, my day is so varied. My day can include vaccinating patients, assisting people with colds, allergies, skin problems, bowel problems, wound care, natural medicines, pain management, weight management, sleep apnoea, and diabetes management.

It is not the just the clinical aspect I love but the relationships I form with our customers. I love talking to them, listening to their stories, giving them a hug when they need it and ultimately making a difference in their lives, the lives of their families and our amazing community.

I hope you share a bond with your pharmacist like I do with my patients.

Karen

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