Consider your local pharmacist a vital part of your care team.
You probably see him or her in a white lab coat standing behind the counter at the pharmacy, on the phone with a doctor’s office or dispensing medications.
But your pharmacist does much more than just hand you your prescriptions and ask if you have any questions. In addition to earning their Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree and getting licensed, many pharmacists are qualified to offer a bunch of basic health services right at their pharmacy.
The next time your pharmacist asks if you have any questions, say yes. And see if he or she can help you:
1. Stay current on your immunizations
Your pharmacist may be able to give you vaccines for influenza, shingles, tetanus, pneumococcal, hepatitis A & B, measles, chickenpox, HPV, and travel-specific vaccines for yellow fever, typhoid and more.
2. Avoid harmful drug interactions
Bring in a list of everything you’re taking, including prescription and over-the-counter meds, herbal and other supplements and meds you fill at other pharmacies. Review the list together so you can spot and avoid harmful drug interactions.
3. Find the lowest price
From finding cheaper formulations, different drugs in the same class or even suggesting a new medication, your pharmacist can help you save money. He or she can tell you what you’ll pay using your drug coverage and what your med would cost at the cash price (pro tip: it might be cheaper than with your coverage!).
4. Synchronize your medication refills
Medication synchronization is when your pharmacist aligns all of your prescriptions so you can pick them up at the same time, say, on the same day every month. Making just one trip to the pharmacy each month saves time and can also reduce the risk of missing doses due to late refills.
5. Get your recommended health screenings
Your pharmacist may be able to screen you for high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes, osteoporosis, depression and other chronic conditions. Call ahead to see what’s available and if he or she requires an appointment for screenings.
6. Learn how to do self-injections
Administering self-injectable drugs can be nerve-wracking at first. Your pharmacist can give you specific techniques on how to do it, or even just help you become more comfortable with the process.
7. Get birth control
Some states allow pharmacists to prescribe various forms of birth control, in addition to dispensing it. In these states, pharmacists may be able to counsel you on your options and write prescriptions for oral contraceptives, injections, patches and rings.
8. Quit tobacco
Some pharmacists are certified as tobacco treatment specialists. If your pharmacist has received the necessary training, he or she can counsel you on your journey to quit tobacco and help you determine which medications (prescribed or over-the-counter) might work best for you.
9. Remind you to take your medications
Find yourself forgetting to take your meds? Ask your pharmacist for ways you can tweak your routine to help you remember.
10. Get your kids to actually take their medicine
If your child resists taking a bad-tasting liquid medication, ask your pharmacist if he or she can flavor the med for you. There are usually a variety of options on offer, from fruit flavors to chocolate, vanilla and more.
11. Manage your diabetes
In addition to helping you choose over-the-counter medications that will have minimal impact on your blood sugar, your pharmacist can give glucose monitoring advice and help you determine which hypoglycemic management strategy would be best for you.
12. Choose the right over-the-counter meds
From relieving your seasonal allergies, reducing motion sickness or taking care of some minor heartburn, your pharmacist has a large arsenal of safe and effective medications they can recommend that you can purchase on the spot, no prescription required.
13. Decide when it’s time to see a doctor
Describe your symptoms and your pharmacist can recommend over-the-counter medications that could best help you, or let you know if your ailment would be better treated by a visit to the doctor. The next time you pick up a prescription at the pharmacy, don’t hesitate to ask your pharmacist what other services he or she can provide.
This article is not medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your physician