Community Pharmacist: Pillar of next-gen healthcare system

The concept of pharmaceutical care is transforming the role of the pharmacist from a distributor of drugs to a manager of the patient’s drug therapy. Today’s pharmacist is an essential part of health care system along with physicians, nurses, and others to improve the quality of life. This new role requires new training for the pharmacist which is offered by Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D.) program. In India this program is introduced in the academic year 2008- 2009. The curriculum supports interdisciplinary education and focuses on the development of professional leaders. In global scenario, pharmacists are integral members of the health care team whose contributions have been shown to optimize patient outcomes.

As medication professionals, they are responsible for assuring that the information provided by a prescriber is comprehensive, that the new medication and dose are appropriate for the patient’s condition, and that the patient understands the proper method to take the medication.Thus, it’s the responsibility of pharmacists to insure appropriate use of medications.

In this context, the graduates of pharmacy in Pharm. D. program get well acquainted with clinical practise that provides; hands-on experience in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, community pharmacies, government institutions, home healthcare settings, pharmacy benefits management companies, and other industries.

In developed countries like USA, pharmacy graduates take a national licensing examination i.e. North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX).  The NAPLEX is one component of the licensure process required to practice as a pharmacist throughout the nation. Most graduates provide care to patients in a community setting, either in a chain drug store like Wal-Mart Pharmacy, CVS Pharmacy, Rite-Aid Pharmacy stores or self managed care facility. Others find employment in hospitals, pharmaceutical sales, teaching or in research. The pharmacy graduates from India are eligible to appear for NAPLEX and can pursue the greatest & the brightest career in USA.
The role of community pharmacists in developed countries like USA; is often on the first line of health care system where they are directly involved in patient care. While their primary task is to dispense medications especially “individualised medications” and monitor patients for any adverse/side effects, drug interactions; pharmacists also counsel patients for the selection of appropriate over-the-counter medications and/or referral to other health care providers. The major role of community pharmacist involves Filling A Prescription which comprises of various steps to convert a medication order i.e. prescription into an individualized medication supply that is both safe and appropriate for the patient. The prescription filling process comprises of following aspects:

  • Key in & preliminary verification (To collect information):This is to check your prescription records through pharmacy’s computer software. To get access to your prescription history, the pharmacist will ask you if you have visited the pharmacy store before. If your answer is “Yes” then he can easily trace your record by using your DOB or name. If your answer is “No” then you will be requested to fill up consent form; the information therein will be entered in the computer system. You will be then asked what medicines are you on / what medicines you have used to treat. This preliminary database will allow the pharmacist to personalize your medication and will help in counselling while medication is being picked up.

  • A Pharmacy technician will enter the prescription into your profile which includes physician’s information, medication/dose and indications from the prescriber. The pharmacy system software like Nova Scotia Drug Information System; will check for possible interactions or other potential issues related to prescribed medicines.

  • The individualised medication bottle will be scanned and packaged with the Lot and Expiry number. The exact number of medication unit gets filled in the labelled bottle.

  • The pharmacist then verifies medication and information entered at the beginning work station. The counselling leaflet will be printed by a pharmacist that provides additional information about the medication.

  • The patient while picking up his medication from pick up station; has a brief discussion with the pharmacist to ensure proper counselling.

Thus, the pharmacist not only verifies the legality, safety and suitability of the prescription order but also checks the patient medication history prior to dispensing the prescription and ensures that the correct quantities of medication are dispensed with proper counselling. Since community pharmacist is essential for providing better healthcare, steps are taken by the Indian government and the pharmacist to project himself in the community as a crucial link in health care system.

In the year 2020, pharmacist and pharmaceutical scientist working within various discipline of pharmacy will be well established and recognized as the medicine expert and will be an expert in health promotion and disease prevention. Indian pharmacist will be actively involved in national health care program and perform individualized therapy as in the US. To meet this change in scenario of Indian health care system, Indira college of Pharmacy, Pune, Maharashtra has started with Pharm. D course from the academic year 2016-17 in collaboration with Aditya Birla memorial hospital.

Blog by

Ms. Archana M. Karnik
Asst. Professor in Pharmaceutical Chemistry
SCES’s, Indira College of Pharmacy, Pune
(Author has worked in Wal-Mart Pharmacy, Auburn Hills, Michigan, USA)


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