For the past three years, World Pharmacist Day has been celebrated on the 25th of September, to acknowledge and create awareness of the duties and responsibilities that Pharmacists hold.

Why should we appreciate Pharmacists, you ask?

As key members of the community, Pharmacists act as mediators between patients and doctors, providing vital healthcare advice to the public and explaining key information to these patients in a clear and appropriate manner. Though, as patients, we only see what happens in front of the counter, behind the counter Pharmacists have a huge amount of responsibility to ensure patients are provided with the best level of care.

The theme for World Pharmacist day 2013 is ‘Pharmacists – simplifying your medicines use, no matter how complex.’  To the public, it may seem that doctors, GP’s and other health care practitioners are in charge of this. However, Pharmacists have a crucial role to play in the process of establishing high standards of pharmaceutical care and make taking medicines as efficient as possible. Pharmacists need to ensure each patient is taking medication related to an appropriate indication, check for any potential drug therapy problems and take any action to resolve and/or prevent these, amongst other points. (Minnesota project – relating to pharmaceutical care).

By acting as an accessible provider of health information in the community, Pharmacists are able to provide more convenient care and give out increased information to patients. In consultations with these patients, they are also able to build up initial rapport and have two-way discussions. This ensures that patients are also involved in decisions regarding their own health, and are both adherent and concordant in these consultations. Medicine Use Reviews (MURs) are also a significant service that Pharmacists provide for patients who may be taking multiple medications or have a long term illness requiring lifelong treatment. These ensure that patients are aware of the specific use of the medication they are taking, how it will benefit them therapeutically, and the solutions to any problems that may arise in the process. This makes it easier for patients to adhere to their treatment as they have a more thorough understanding.

In the hospital sector pharmacists play a crucial part in providing medication for patients, with some who may be initiated on life-saving treatment or continuing with numerous  medications which could potentially cause interactions. In this environment, pharmacists are able to reassure and aid patients who may have severe health conditions, and have to work under pressure to provide medications that could save lives. Acting alongside ward staff in a multi-professional team, they have the responsibility of making sure that each patient is receiving the correct treatment they need to improve their health and well-being in hospital and after discharge.

So, when you go to your local Pharmacy, remember that behind the counter (though it may seem like a lot of ‘counting pills’), pharmacists have a vital role to play in the health-care system. They have the ability to advise, resolve queries and importantly listen to provide a comprehensive level of health-care that is available for everyone.

Neela Kumar – 2nd year Pharmacy Student UCL SOP