Latest Thinking

Pharmacists are awesome. Here’s why.

March 7, 2016

Photo Debby Cordeiro Debby Cordeiro,
Communications Director,
TELUS Health

I’ve been blessed with having two great pharmacists in my community for most of my life. As a child, going to the pharmacy was always an epic event. What great and diverse places they were! I remember being drawn to the large fish tank in the waiting area and the Flinstone multivitamins lining the counter. As I grew older, things starting popping up. A closed room for private consultations. Blood-pressure cuffs. A pamphlet holder with information for pregnant women, kids with lice, diabetics, advice on managing depression, your diet, hypertension, etc. But always – always – the pharmacist. There, behind the counter, providing advice, answering questions, for the medication he was dispensing, but also for the patients who, like me, pre-internet, and still today, are trying to gage the severity of their condition and whether or not to venture to a hospital ER or clinic. A form of pre-triage.

Pharmacists have been key members of our communities for millennia. Traces of their healing contribution to social life with medicinal plants date back to prehistoric times. This art of healing, mainly drawing on nature’s bounty, evolved throughout the centuries and continents, with the earliest rendition of the modern pharmacy being found in Baghdad in 754, and where by the ninth century these pharmacies were state-regulated. In Europe pharmacy-like shops began to appear during the12th century. It’s only in 1240 that emperor Frederic II issued a decree by which the physician’s and the apothecary’s professions were separated.

Today, pharmacists make up a key pillar of our healthcare delivery system and are often the first point of contact for patients on their healthcare and healing journey.
In Canada, there are 38,737 pharmacists practicing in 9843 licences pharmacies and dispensing 600 million prescriptions a year (source: www.pharmacists.ca). And thankfully, their scope of practice has increased, enabling them to provide even more value to all of us, including renewing prescriptions, administering flu shots, and much more.

For me, they are a key part of my support system. They have always been there for me: my first strep-throat, my first birth control pill, even my first pregnancy test. And now that I am a mom of two young ones, the way I rely on them has grown exponentially. They were there for my C-section recovery, my babies’ first fever, the bad diaper rashes, and their first antibiotic. When I don’t get to see my MD for a renewal, they allow me an extra refill to help me out. And as I browse the cosmetic isles frantically looking for the best skincare, they also provide great advice on how to treat my enduring skin issues.

I love my pharmacists. They’ve been there, available and accessible, to reassure and counsel me through the highest and lowest points in my life. If healthcare is a team sport, I want to play the front line, but also have two quarterbacks, my doctor and my pharmacist. So during the month of March, where we celebrate their important contribution to healthcare, join me in sharing why you love your pharmacist with the hashtag #Ilovemypharmacist and @telushealth on social media.