Pharmacists play a pivotal role in patients’ recovery

Pharmacists play an important role in keeping us healthyMaintaining a healthy lifestyle is a powerful way to recover from or avoid chronic illnesses. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, it is much more cost-effective to prevent chronic diseases than to treat them after they occur. In fact most chronic diseases could be prevented through lifestyle and environmental changes.

Pharmacists are an important resource

Consulting a health care professional is one way to learn more about staying healthy. Pharmacists are the most accessible medical providers in the community, and are often available 24 hours a day to answer patients’ questions. These professionals are able to effectively communicate with patients on topics relating to a healthy lifestyle, including the importance of exercise and vaccinations, smoking cessation and health literacy.2

Pharmacists can be found in hospitals, drug and grocery stores, and in pharmacies.They are responsible for dispensing prescription medications to patients and providing guidance as to the safe use of medication. They may also perform wellness screenings, provide immunizations, manage the medications given to patients and counsel them on how to lead a healthy life.3

Demand for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians is rising

Individuals enrolled in pharmacy technician programs can expect the job market for both pharmacists and technicians to grow an average of 14 percent between 2012 and 2022.3 That figure is higher than the average growth rate for all other occupations. Several factors will likely contribute to this rate. The huge baby boomer population in the U.S. is aging, and because older people tend to use more prescription drugs than younger people, more pharmacists will be needed to dispense those and give advice on managing medications.3

There has been an increase in the number of people suffering from chronic diseases, like diabetes among all age groups, raising the demand for prescription medications as well.3 In addition, the healthcare industry is developing new drug products thanks to scientific advances. Because more people will be taking multiple medications to treat their symptoms, more pharmacists will be needed to dispense medication and to advise patients on how to use them safely and effectively.3

As individuals enroll for healthcare coverage, the number of patients in the U.S. will increase, and pharmacies, hospitals and clinics will need a larger skilled staff to serve them. Demand is also expected to increase for pharmacists in a variety of healthcare settings, including clinics and hospitals. These establishments will require them to manage the medications given to patients and to provide patient care, including performing blood sugar or cholesterol tests.3

Pharmacists can help stroke victims recover

Patients who have experienced a stroke and are in recovery need to adopt healthier lifestyles in order to prevent another one or other debilitating health conditions. Pharmacists can help by managing the medical care provided to the patients.4

A study published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal described how a patient who suffered from a stroke can benefit greatly if a pharmacist is involved in their ongoing care. Researchers reported that pharmacists helped reduce patients’ blood pressures and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is often called the “bad” cholesterol, levels.4

Researchers recruited 279 patients in Alberta Canada who had experienced strokes or mini strokes. The participants were divided into two groups: one was treated by pharmacists for six months and the other was not.4 The pharmacists were instructed to counsel their patients about changes they could make to their lifestyle, such as dieting, exercising and not smoking. The pharmacists monitored the participants’ blood pressure and LDL levels. When the study began, all of the patients did not meet the target blood pressure and LDL levels set by the Canadian Stroke Guidelines. At the end of the study, the group treated by the pharmacists had more than 10 percent better improvement than the other group.4 The difference was attributed to the personal attention the patients received over those six months.

Pharmacists are trained to keep patients healthy

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have an important roll in the lives of their patients. They are trained to help prevent diseases by practicing primary prevention techniques. These include taking precautions to either eliminate a patients’ risk factors or increase their resistance to disease. These healthcare professionals are also responsible for educating their patients about nutrition and risk factors that may exist in their environment. For example, pharmacists can encourage people to protect themselves from the sun’s ultraviolet rays with sunscreen and limited exposure. A pharmacist or technician who knows the complications connected with different diseases can help make recovery or treatment more manageable for their patients.4

Oftentimes, people see their pharmacists more regularly than they do most other healthcare providers. This puts the pharmacists in a position to follow the progress of their customers during the interactions they have at least once every month, and they can use information that arises during the visit to suggest the next steps for patients to take.4

1 “Prevention for a Healthier America,”  Trust for America’s Health.org, July 2008, http://Healthyamericans.org/reports/prevention08

2 Subramaniam, Vaiyapuri PharmD, MS, FCP, FASHP, FASCP and Sierra, Johanna BS, PharmD candidate, “Pharmacists’ Impact on Public Health,” Drug Topics.com, Aug, 15, 2013, http://drugtopics.modernmedicine.com/drug-topics/news/pharmacists-impact-public-health?page=full

3 “Healthcare Occupations,” Bureau of Labor Statistics.gov, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/pharmacists.htm

4 Cheng, Cheri, “Pharmacists can Improve Stroke Patients’ Blood Pressure and Cholesterol,”Counsel Heal.com, Apr. 14, 2014, http://www.counselheal.com/articles/9347/20140414/pharmacists-can-improve-stroke-patients-blood-pressure-and-cholesterol.htm

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