Most people assume pharmacists just follow orders and fill prescriptions. But did you know they’re actually highly educated and well-trained medical professionals?
Good pharmacists do way more than just count pills – they can actually help you get the most out of your medicine.
7 Questions to Ask Your Pharmacist
To assume the title, pharmacists must earn a Doctor of Pharmacy from an accredited school. The curriculum can be rigorous and generally includes studies in chemistry, biology, and anatomy. After completing three or four years of college, candidates must take and pass the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) and then take another four-year Pharm.D. program.
In other words, your Pharmacist isn’t standing on the other side of the counter by chance. They’re knowledgeable and well educated – go ahead and ask them some questions.
#1 How should I use the drug?
Every medication will come with instructions on the bottle, but they aren’t always the easiest to read. And in many cases, the instructions are too generic to explain every possible situation or factor. When you ask your pharmacist, they’ll provide you with optimal suggestions for usage based on your situation. They’ll also help you understand how the drug will interact with any other drugs you’re already taking.
#2 What are the common side effects?
Prescription drugs often come with a long list of potential side effects. Ask your pharmacist for a realistic rundown of any side effects you’re likely to experience. Based on your medical history, existing health issues, age, and other factors, they can provide you with an idea of what you might expect.
#3 What should I do if I miss a dose?
Missing a dose of medication is fairly common. Even people who’ve been taking the same drug for years slip up and forget to take a dose. Sometimes you should take the missed dose right away, while other times you should wait until the next scheduled dose. It’s important that you know how to handle the situation so that you don’t unintentionally cause harm to your body.
#4 How should the medication be stored?
Most medications need to be stored in a dry area at room temperature, but this isn’t always the case. Certain medicine must be kept in refrigeration at all times. While your pharmacist should tell you if this is the case, it never hurts to ask.
#5 Are there any discounts?
Prescription medication isn’t cheap. If you’re worried about cost, let your pharmacist know. They’ll be happy to help you find the best option. Many pharmacies have discount programs that you can join. Others will encourage you to use a resource like GoodRx.
#6 Are there any generic alternatives?
Most of the time, a pharmacy will go ahead and fill the generic option for your prescription. But if you see that your doctor has written a prescription for the brand-name drug, ask them about generic alternatives. The savings are often astronomical.
#7 Should I visit a doctor?
It’s important to note that a pharmacist isn’t a doctor. But because of their training, education, and experience with medication, they have a lot of knowledge about how the body works and what it needs to be healthy.
If you’re currently taking an over the counter medicine for a condition or illness, you may ask the pharmacist for advice on whether to see a doctor. They’ll typically err on the side of caution and tell you that you should. But they may also be able to direct you towards a better remedy that doesn’t require a prescription.
Utilize Your Pharmacist
Your pharmacist is a free resource. To not use your pharmacist would be an oversight on your part. Ask them questions, pick their brain, and develop a positive relationship. You never know when the right question could change your entire health outlook.
If you don’t feel like your local pharmacy has the answers, branch out or take to the internet. You may even find that a Canadian pharmacy – where prices are often 85 to 90 percent lower than American pharmacies – is a better option. As the old saying goes, “You don’t know until you try.”
The sooner you begin utilizing your pharmacist, the smarter you’ll become on health-related matters. It’s your body – make sure you’re taking care of it!
So what are you doing to better utilize your pharmacist?