6 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Pharmacist

The average person's interaction with his or her pharmacist lasts only a few minutes. The process typically goes like this: a doctor sends in a patient's prescription to the pharmacist; the patient arrives, waits while the order is processed and prepared (an activity most people never even see), then the patient pays for the medication, picks it up, and then the interaction is all over. Considering our lives are often dependent on a job done well by a caring pharmacist, it's surprising so many of us know so little about the job we rely on so often. Here are six things you probably didn't know about your pharmacist.

1. Your pharmacist has an extensive education.

To do his or her job effectively, your pharmacist has been in school for nearly as long as the doctor that prescribed the medication your pharmacist prepares. To earn a Doctor of Pharmacy degree requires between 6 to 8 years of schooling at an accredited university. During that time your pharmacist has completed post-secondary courses in fields like chemistry and biology as well as didactic preclinical and professional clinical preparation. A Doctor of Pharmacy course also includes extensive clinical training in actual pharmacies.

2. Pharmacists can give you vaccines and teach you to give yourself injections too.

A pharmacist is an expert in a lot more than preparing medications. He or she can also give you important immunizations and vaccines right at the pharmacy site. Giving an injection requires more knowledge than just jabbing a needle into flesh and your pharmacist knows this. This is important knowledge they can pass on to you if you need to give yourself injections, such as administering insulin shots if you're diabetic.

3. Your pharmacist might know more about medication than your doctor. 

During the course of his or her education, your pharmacist is required to learn how drugs interact with each other, especially when there are potentially harmful or deadly interactions. This might be some knowledge that your doctor isn't as familiar with. For example, if you're taking a prescription for one ailment and a specialist recommends a different medication for a separate issue, your pharmacist will have access to all your drug information and he or she can catch a potentially harmful interaction that your doctor might have missed.

4. A pharmacist can help you find the best value for your prescriptions.

Pharmacists deal with medical insurance and drug prices all day long. That means he or she is intimately familiar with the cost of medications and most importantly, the prices charged for prescriptions by pharmaceutical companies to certain insurance companies. Ask your pharmacist for advice on saving money and he or she might be able to recommend the best low-cost generic option for your specific insurance company to help you get the best value for your dollar.

5. Pharmacists understand supplements too.

In addition to an extensive knowledge base in the area of medications, your pharmacist likely has extensive knowledge of supplements as well. Are you wondering what vitamin is the best for promoting hair growth? Do you want to know if the vitamin supplements you're taking are the best for your specific medical history? If you've been visiting the same pharmacy regularly, your pharmacist knows your medical history and can give you advice on the best supplements for your specific needs.

6. Your pharmacist can help you quit smoking.

Patients that are hoping to break a nicotine habit can also benefit from a pharmacist's knowledge of the best products for giving up cigarettes. Your pharmacist can review information based on your habits and medical history and then give you advice on the best option for nicotine replacement.