Do You Know Your Pharmacist?

Christmas 2008, just weeks before being diagnosed with Hypothyroidism

I think many of us forget this important relationship.  How often do we see our pharmacist?  Once a month?  Maybe more if we’re sick.  There was a time in my life when I joked about being a walking pharmacy.  I had so many prescriptions, many of them PRNs (as needed medication) that I needed to keep with me.  More than half my purse used to be dedicated to prescription bottles.  People not in the know probably thought I was carrying around baby rattles.  

There was also a time in my life when I did not know the men and women filling these prescriptions and putting their names on my bottles.  Other than the mom & pop pharmacy I loved so much back home.  I was stuck with those chain pharmacies and grocery store pharmacies.  The kind with several pharmacists and assistants who really don’t want to be bothered when you walk up with your prescription in the first place.  Provide education on the medication when I give it to you filled?  Hah.  You must mistake me for someone who cares.  

And that’s how I felt about these people for years.  

Then I got fed up.  

There was a little mom & pop place down the street from us in Louisville.  Wish’s Drugs.   The first time I went in with my prescription, the pharmacist took it.  And introduced himself to me.  “My name is Frank.  I’ll be filling this for you.”  Holy Hell in a hand basket!  The most I got from those pharmacists in the grocery stores and chains was some Tim Allen grunting.  I was kicking myself for not going to him as soon as we moved into the area. 

Every time I went in, even if Frank didn’t take my script or get my meds off the shelf for me to pay for, he would say, “Hi, Debi!”  He always made conversation.  Not just with me, but with every one else that came in there.  If I had something new, he made sure to have his techs get him when I picked them up so he could tell me about them or a potential interaction with something else I take.  This wasn’t that sheet you sign at those big places declining medication education or saying yes, you received it as requested.  I don’t even think most people knew they are required to do just what Frank was doing.  He took his job and responsibility seriously.  His techs knew everyone, too.   They struck up conversations with us just like he did.  I felt good going in there and getting my meds knowing I was not just getting meds.  I was getting real service.  Real care.  

They are so good at what they do and strive to provide people with the lowest cost for those paying out-of-pocket, that people from across town would drive over half an hour just for their medication.  You can’t say that about most pharmacies, their pharmacists, and their technicians.  

I haven’t required a prescription in a year.  My doctor took me off the prescription Vitamin D and put me on over-the-counter (OTC) Vitamin D3 of the same dose.  50,000IU slow release that I take once a week.  I get this in her office.  While I don’t have need for a pharmacist right now, I do have a good relationship with our pharmacist at work.  I know without a doubt that I could ask him any questions I have about the medication I am getting.  

  • So, what should you look for in a pharmacist & pharmacy technicians? 
  • They look you in the eye when you drop off or pick up prescriptions.
  • They know your name and know who you are.  You shouldn’t be hearing, “Have you filled a prescription here before?” on your 10th visit. 
  • They provide verbal education on your medications when you pick it up.  
  • They offer options if you have to pay out-of-pocket in order for you to get the lowest price possible. 
  • Other people recommending not just the pharmacy, but the pharmacist themselves. 
  • People waiting for their prescriptions to be filled are saying good things about the pharmacist and the techs.  
  • If possible, look for a mom & pop pharmacy.  They are more likely to give better service than a pharmacy part of a major corporation.  (Except my pharmacist at work. hehe)

Remember, these are the people providing the medications that your doctor prescribed.  If you trust your doctor to take what he says you should take, you should trust the pharmacist that fills the prescription, too.  

Lastly, if you live in Louisville, consider taking that drive to the Lyndon area and getting your prescriptions filled at Wish’s Drugs.  Tell Frank that Debi Smith sent you.  

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2 comments

  1. Very interesting! I’ve interviewed/dealt with/discussed quite a few pharmacists in my advocacy work, and it definitely is the case that a “real” relationship with a pharmacist can have such an effect on QUM (oops, sorry, acronym-city in my work – quality use of medicine), particularly for migrants and refugees where an own-language speaking pharmacist can be mroe helpful and respected than a doctor. Sadly, though, I don’t know of any “mom and pop” pharmacists near me!


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