Get to know your Pharmacist


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Who should you turn to with questions about your medicines? The answer should be your pharmacist but you may not know what your pharmacist can do for you. Your doctor and your pharmacist are a powerful team, working to ensure the best selection and management of your prescription and nonprescription medicines.

Pharmacists are the medication experts. You might not realize it, but they do much more than count tablets and pour liquids, and you’ll find pharmacists throughout the health care system. For each prescription dispensed, your pharmacist must check to see that the information provided by the prescriber is complete, that the new medication will not interact with other medications you are taking, that the medication and dosage are appropriate for your health condition and that you understand the proper way to store and take the medication.

Ultimately, you have the responsibility for managing your health care, but your pharmacist can help if you keep him or her up-to-date about your health and the medications you are taking. For this reason, it is important to use the same pharmacy for all of your prescription services, especially when seeing multiple health care providers. This ensures that your pharmacist has access to your complete medication history when checking for problems or possible interactions.

By working together with your pharmacist, you can be sure that your medications are taken safely, effectively, and appropriately to maintain your good health. Pharmacists want you to know that they are always available to advise you about your medications.

Medicines today have great power to heal and to improve the quality of life for thousands of Iowans. But medicines also may do serious harm if not taken correctly. This is where the role of the pharmacist is most important. You should choose your pharmacist as carefully as you choose a physician. It is best to use only one pharmacy so all medication records are at one location. This way there will be less risk of duplicating medicine or having one prescription interact harmfully with another. 

Pharmacists who know their patients and have their medication profiles on file will be aware of possible harmful drug interactions or allergies to certain drugs. The pharmacist also will be able to discuss possible side effects; what foods, drinks, or activities that should be avoided while on a medication; what to do if you miss a dose; and a wide range of other helpful information.

The pharmacist is a key health care professional in helping people achieve the best results from their medications. Americans should choose a pharmacist they trust and build a partnership for good health.

When medication regimens become more complicated tools like compliance packaging may be useful. Compliance packaging allows a growing number of people to stay independent and allows caregivers (often family members) the ability to access compliance with important drug regimens. Visit with your pharmacist for more details.

Key questions to ask your pharmacist about your medications:

  • What is the name of the medication, and what is it supposed to do?
  • When and how do I take it?
  • How long should I take it?
  • Does this medication contain anything that causes an allergic reaction?
  • Should I avoid alcohol or any foods when taking this medication?
  • Can I take non-prescription medications, herbal products, or other drugs with this medicine?
  • Should I expect any side effects? What should I do if I get them?
  • What if I forget to take my medication or take a dose incorrectly?
  • Is it safe to become pregnant or breast-feed while taking this medication?
  • How should I dispose of expired medications or used needles and syringes?
  • How should I store my medications, and how long can I keep them?
  • If I’m having problems with this medicine, when should I call my doctor?

What Your Community Pharmacist Can Do for You

Your pharmacist can help support your health by:

  • Talking to you about your medicine. Your pharmacist can explain the small print—what the medicine is for, how best to use it, what side effects you may experience, and what to do if you have side effects.
  • Suggesting ways to help you take your medicine. Your pharmacist can help you learn how to take your medicines as directed as well as solve any problems you might have in doing this. For example, your pharmacist can suggest routines or tools such as a daily pillbox to help you take your medicine at the right time in the right dose. Your pharmacist can also help connect you to prescription discounts and aid programs.
  • Talking to you about medicine safety. Your pharmacist can give you important advice on which over-the-counter medicines, such as pain medicines and dietary supplements, are safe to use in combination with your prescription medicines.
  • Identifying or managing health problems. For example, if you get your blood pressure checked at the drugstore, share your numbers with your pharmacist. Your pharmacist can talk to you about your risk for high blood pressure, help you monitor your blood pressure, and direct you to medical care if needed. Your pharmacist can also consult your doctor to ensure you get the best treatment available.
  • Helping you manage other health conditions. Pharmacists can provide immunizations, like yearly flu shots, and teach you how to use health equipment such as blood glucose monitors if you have diabetes and inhalers if you have asthma.

How Your Pharmacist Works With Your Health Care Team

Pharmacists can work closely with your doctor or nurse to give you expert information and guidance about your health and any health conditions you may have. 

Pharmacists have special training to help you manage and improve your health, including working with your health care team. For example, your pharmacist can alert your doctors if they separately prescribe medicines that interact badly, before a problem occurs. Your pharmacist can also consult your doctor and advocate for you if you’re struggling with taking your medicines or have side effects.

Additional Information and Resources