Things you didn’t know about pharmacists

Being a pharmacist isn’t all about filling prescriptions. Pharmacists spend anywhere from seven to eight years educating themselves and eventually obtaining a doctorate degree. On top of this, many burgeoning pharmacists will spend an extra year or two after their studies completing a pharmacy residency to specialize in fields such as pediatric or geriatric care. They are an underutilized wealth of knowledge and could know more about your prescription than the physician who prescribed it to you. Here are some things you may not have known about pharmacists.

They can administer more than your yearly flu shot. Other vaccines commonly administered at pharmacies are polio, shingles, pneumonia, tetanus, and chicken pox. Many pharmacists also have access to travel immunizations such as typhoid and meningitis. It can be a hassle to make an appointment with the doctors just for a few shots, so the next time you’re picking up your prescription ask your pharmacist about their available vaccines. They will go over your medical history with you and help you choose which vaccines are appropriate. When finished, don’t forget to ask the pharmacist to forward proof of your vaccination to your primary care physician so they can update your records.

They can give you all the information you need on that prescription you’re picking up, possibly saving you and the world. This sounds like an exaggeration, but in fact it is not. The rise of drug-resistant super diseases, for instance, is caused by widespread overuse and misuse of antibiotics. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), at least 30% of all prescribed antibiotic courses are not necessary7. In a scientific study conducted in 2010 on U.S. ambulatory care visits, approximately 50% of the cases related to an acute respiratory condition led to an inappropriate prescription of antibiotics. Asking your pharmacist about your prescription will help you defend against overprescription of antibiotics. Just because the drugs you’re picking up are prescribed by a physician, doesn’t mean they can’t be administered incorrectly. Taking a prescription medication in the wrong way could lead to personal complications as well.

They can advise on over the counter medicine, too, and may even save you money. When you ask your pharmacist about how to take your new prescription properly, also ask their opinion on the drug itself and if there are any cheaper alternatives. With their wide breadth of knowledge regarding medications, they will most likely be able to recommend you a cheaper generic version of the medication you are taking. They are also knowledgeable about rebates, coupons, and loyalty programs that can help cut down your medical expenses.

The next time you see a pharmacist, make sure to strike up a conversation. There is a lot to be learned from the person at the counter doling out your medication, all you have to do is ask!