Pharmacies are often the first place a person visits when faced with an ailment. Pharmacists are highly skilled and trained professionals with vast knowledge about products and different conditions. They guide and advise individuals, helping them to avoid possible interactions of medicines and warning them of possible side effects.
The pharmacists’ role highlights the high level of professionalism involved in their practice. It also underscores the need to facilitate their daily practice in order to ensure that all potential benefits of their service can be fully realised.
As a communicator
- The pharmacist should initiate dialogue with the patient (and the patient’s physician, when necessary) to obtain a sufficiently detailed medication history
- In order to address the condition of the patient appropriately the pharmacist must ask the patient key questions and pass on relevant information to him or her (e.g. how to take the medicines and how to deal with safety issues)
- The pharmacist must be prepared and adequately equipped to perform a proper screening for specific conditions and diseases, without interfering with the prescriber’s authority
- The pharmacist must provide objective information about medicines;
- The pharmacist must be able to use and interpret additional sources of information to satisfy the needs of the patient
- The pharmacist should be able to help the patient undertake appropr iate and responsible self-medication or, when necessary, refer the patient for medical advice
- The pharmacist must ensure confidentiality concerning details of the patient’s condition
As a quality drug supplier
- The pharmacist must ensure that the products he/she purchases are from reputable sources and of good quality
- The pharmacist must ensure the proper storage of these products
As a trainer and supervisor
To ensure up-to-date quality service, the pharmacist must be encouraged to participate in continuing professional development activities such as continuing education.
The pharmacist is often assisted by non-pharmacist staff and must ensure that the services rendered by these auxiliaries correspond to established standards of practice.
To achieve this the pharmacist must develop:
- Protocols for referral to the pharmacist
- Protocols for community health workers involved with the handling and distribution of medicines
The pharmacist must also promote the training and supervise the work of non-pharmacist staff.
As a collaborator
It is imperative that pharmacists develop quality collaborative relationships with:
- Other health care professionals
- National professional associations
- The pharmaceutical industry
- Governments (local/national)
- Patients and the general public
In so doing, opportunities to tap into resources and expertise, and to share data and experiences, in order to improve self-care and self-medication, will be enhanced.
As a health promoter
As a member of the health-care team, the pharmacist must:
- Participate in health screening to identify health problems and those at risk in the community
- Participate in health promotion campaigns to raise awareness of health issues and disease prevention
- Provide advice to individu als to help them make informed health choices
In many developing countries, the ratios of pharmacists and pharmacies to population are so low that access to pharmaceutical care is impeded. In such cases, consultation with other health workers or community health care workers, household carers and other appropriate lay people, provided they have received the appropriate pharmaceutical training and orientation, should be encouraged. Read more
- The role of pharmacists – Association of the European Self-Medication Industry (AESGP)
- The Role of the Pharmacist in Self-Care and Self-Medication – Report of the 4th WHO Consultative Group on the Role of the Pharmacist The Hague, The Netherlands 26-28 August 1998
- Responsible Self-Medication: the responsibility of the pharmacist – Joint Statement by The International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) and Global Self Care Federation (GSCF) – 1998 (PDF)
See also: What is Self-Care?