Often times, most people find it difficult to clearly define the role of a pharmacist in the community. In most cases, a pharmacist is assumed to be a drug vendor or a drug seller. Hence, there is always a confusion when people try to define who is a pharmacist.
Nevertheless, the pharmacy professional is an evolving one and have undergone different stages of evolution to what we see today. Therefore, the role of a pharmacist has been changing overtime – their services to the public are becoming more complicated.
Previously, the pharmacy profession was about products (Compounding and Distribution era). But currently, Pharmacy has advanced to the stage of taking care of patients and monitoring drug outcomes ( Clinical pharmacy).
Who is a Pharmacist?
A pharmacist is a health professional trained to provide drugs at all times for patients, counsel on the use of these medications, resolve and monitor actual or potential Drug Therapy Problems and helps in promoting health and well-being of a community through health education.
Therefore, a pharmacist has so many roles to play in providing services at the Primary, secondary and tertiary stages of Health care especially when it comes to providing a proper drug information.
The roles of a pharmacist are broad and strongly depends on the branch of Pharmacy the pharmacist is operating. However, the general roles of a pharmacist can be categorized into two major branches namely; Product oriented and Patient oriented practices. For example, Pharmacists in the production setting deal more with the products than the patients.
However, the Total Pharmacy Care Model stated the duties of a pharmacist to be both product and patient focused. In other words, the outcome of a disease will depend on the choice of product in the management of the disease. Therefore, it is often difficult to distinguish the patient and the drug when you are mentioning the roles of a pharmacist.
In this post, i will give a rundown of the activities and general duties of a trained Pharmacist as the profession demands.
General Roles of a Pharmacist
The pharmacist is solely responsible in providing the information as regards to drug use, the effects of the drug and also be responsible for the outcome of the drug therapy. Therefore, the pharmacist is not just concerned on the drug but also on the patient taking the drug and the outcome of the drug.
Below is a schematic diagram of what the duties of a pharmacist looks like.
A. Patient focused Pharmacy Practice
The pharmacist has a role to play with other health care providers in providing adequate assistance in Health promotion and Management of diseases. This role of a pharmacist is to focus on improving the patients medical outcome, foster good quality of life and minimize the occurrence and progression of diseases.
Hence, under this classification, the pharmacist has two major roles which are;
- Disease Management and
- Health promotion.
1. Disease Management
The Pharmacist role in disease management are diverse and involves collaborations with other health care providers. There are 5 major ways the pharmacist play a role in managing some ailments. They are through;
- Patient counselling
- Provision of Drug information
- Drug Therapy Problems Resolution
- Monitoring of Drug therapy outcomes
Every drug to be ingested by a patient has its use, side effects, interactions, Dosing and other necessary information that may help in the course of the treatment.
Most times, the patients have so many questions on how to use their drugs and medications. It is the duty of the pharmacist to provide these information to the patients. However, most patients fail to realize that the pharmacist is not just there to fill prescriptions but is also mandated to take the responsibility of the outcome.1
Patient counselling also helps to avoid unnecessary Drug Therapy Problems and improves patient adherence/compliance. Adequate data from clinical trials prove that patients who receive additional care and counselling from pharmacists do better than others..2
Provision of Drug information
Pharmacists have a vast knowledge on the Pharmacokinetic, Pharmacodynamics, Therapeutic and Adverse effects of a drug. So, they are always in the right position to provide information with regards to proper drug use.
Pharmacists being part of the Drug Therapeutic Committee and also share their ideas about drug use during ward rounds with other health care team. For example, Pharmacist have played a great role in saving lives through Antimicrobial Stewardship.
Through seminars and presentations, pharmacist can also educate the Health care providers on the use of drug and new developments in the pharmaceutical industries.
Resolution of Drug Therapy problems
The Drug Therapy Problems (DTPs) are undesirable events that may occur because of the use of drugs. DTPs may occur as a result of wrong drug, drug interaction, adverse drug effects etc. The pharmacist is the last man in the health care team to come in contact with the patient. So, it is his duty to make sure that any drug a patient is receiving is right for him, at the right dose and safe too.
Whenever a Pharmacist fails to recognize and address potential and actual DTPs – he is simply failing in his duties as a pharmacist.
Monitoring Drug Therapy Outcomes
Pharmacists owe patients the responsibility of following up and being responsible for any outcome of a medication given out by them. Therefore, a good pharmacy-Patient relationship is always important to achieve a very good outcome of a drug therapy.
The pharmacist measures outcomes of a therapy using the ECHO model. The ECHO model measures outcomes in terms of Economic gain/loss, Clinical and the Humanistic outcome.
Therefore, the pharmacist is to ensure that a patient benefits financially, medically and also satisfied with the drug therapy. Hence, it is ideal for the pharmacist to involve the patient in making decisions about his drug therapy.
According to WHO, Pharmacovigilance (PV) is defined as the science and activities relating to the detection, assessment, understanding and prevention of adverse effects or any other drug-related problem.3
Pharmacovigilance is set up to make sure that drug products in circulation are safe for the patient’s consumption. The Pharmacovigilance Form is designed and issued out to pharmacists by local drug authorities to report any pharmaceutical product that may prove risk to the general public.
Therefore, pharmacists are also responsible for detection and reporting of harmful pharmaceutical products that may cause adverse drug effects when consumed.
2. Health Promotion
Health promotion is a domain in public health that improves the health of the general public through health education, disease prevention, Disability and Premature death.4
The pharmacist partakes in programs that will empower individuals to encourage lifestyles that will improve health. Some of these activities targets education, awareness and influencing of government policies that will improve social, economic and environmental conditions.
Health education serves the purpose of informing the public of the activities that will improve health such as Sanitation and healthy cultural practices.
Also, the pharmacist plays a role in preventing diseases through immunization and early detection of diseases.
B. Product focused Pharmacy practice
Product oriented pharmacy has to do with the role of a pharmacist in making available of pharmaceutical products to the public for healing and prevention of diseases. The duty of a pharmacist is to make sure that the pharmaceutical products are safe and effective.
There are so many quality control tools used for this purpose to determine the purity and standardization of drug samples. In so many pharmacy official books such as the pharmacopeias, there is always a guide and bench mark for every drug in other to meet the standard.
Pharmacists duty extends from production to distribution, warehousing/ storage, dispensing and disposal of drugs especially poisons.
Supply chain management system
The supply chain management (SCM) is a term that generally defines all the industrial activities starting with procurement of raw materials, production, distribution, inventory management and storage of goods.
Council of supply chain management system (CSCMP) defines the SCM as a changing profession that requires modifications that meets up with the community immediate requirements.
In the health care sector, the pharmacist is responsible for the management of these activities to ensure that quality pharmaceutical products reach the final consumers.
Good dispensing practice have to orient the patients as well as product orients. In this context, the product oriented dispensing have to deal with prescription validation, labeling and packaging of the drug products. The packaging and labeling should be professional and contains on the necessary information about the product and its use.
Also, the pharmacist is to use the pharmacoeconomic parameters to determine the cheapest products that will offer the best therapeutic outcomes. Therefore, most times, it is better to focus on generics than brand drugs when dispensing pharmaceutical products.
All the areas of pharmacy practice centers on two Parameters; Patient oriented and Product oriented pharmacy. However, to be a complete pharmacist, your duty is to make sure that the patients get the best outcome from the products they consume.
This care can be on individual level or extend to the public health sector or community. The endpoint of this care is to make sure that there is improvement in disease prevention, progression and quality of life.