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Oct. 1, 2014 kicks off American Pharmacists Month and PharmPsych.com, as a medical communications company and network that promotes the work, life and study of pharmacists, other medical professionals, ancillary healthcare staff, community health and the public, commemorates the month of October by recognizing its audience, namely the individuals who support the fields of pharmacy and medicine in general.

Without question, PharmPsych.com supports and acknowledges the month’s efforts of our network. PharmPsych.com is an educational partner and affiliate of the nonprofit Felicity Motivational Group. The Group is a nonprofit corporation, and the parent company of Tutor for Good and is the official nonprofit corporation (child) of Felicity Tutors, L.L.C.

We also support the following government agencies and medical trade organizations who also advance both fields with their educational, medical service and multi-media event campaigns:

Public Sector/Government Agencies

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
American Pharmacists Association (APhA)
The Administration for Community Living (ACL)
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Office of the National Coordinator
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Indian Health Services
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC) Health Promotion and Wellness (HPW) Department

State/Local Support

Arkansas Department of Health
Cherokee Nation Health Services
Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
New York State Department of Health
Pennsylvania Department of Health
The Ohio State University
University of Minnesota: Minnesota Heart Health Program
Virginia Department of Health

Private Supporters

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition
Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Nursing
American Association of Cardiology and Pulmonary Rehabilitation
American Association of Nurses Practitioners
American College of Cardiology
American College of Clinical Pharmacy
American College of Physicians
American College of Preventive Medicine
American Dentists Association
American Diabetes Association
American Heart Association
American Kidney Foundation
American Lung Association
American Medical Association
American Nurses Association
American Osteopathic Association
American Pharmacists Association
American Public Health Association
American Telemedicine Association
America’s Health Insurance Plans
Association of Black Cardiologists
Association of Public Health Nurses
Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association
Blue Care Tennessee
Georgetown School of Medicine
Health Partners
Humana Inc.
Kaiser Permanente
Mended Hearts
Men’s Health Network
Million Hearts Initiative
Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation
National Alliance for Hispanic Health
National Consumers League
National Alliance of State Pharmacy Association
Alliance for Patient Medicine Safety
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
National Association of Chain Drug Stores
National Association of Chronic Disease Prevention
National Association of County and City Health
St. Luke’s Health System
South Asian Heart Center
United Healthcare
The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease
YMCA of America

Why does PharmPsych.com celebrate the fields of pharmacy and medicine and salutes the men and women who comprise both and community health in general?

We do so for a variety of reasons — to advocate for sound prescription medicine and usage and to use the month as an opportunity to conduct medical service community outreach and awareness campaigns.

Most of all, we do so to recognize or acknowledge the 300,000 licensed pharmacists nationwide who work in different settings such as pharmacies; drug stores; state, local and private clinics and hospitals; grocery stores; department stores; military facilities, and government agencies, to supply the highest quality medications, work with medical teams that include doctors, nurses and ancillary healthcare employees and to provide sound advice to patients, as required by law, across the country.

Pharmacists counsel patients and their physicians on the proper brand, dosage, interaction and side effects of their medicine. They are instrumental in reviewing medication management for patients and referring patients to doctors who are the first to assist patients with their healthcare questions and concerns. They are dedicated to their professions and are champions for patient safety and healthcare delivery quality.

Some of their duties include the following:

Annual medicine check-ups to review all drugs, including action plans, documents and visits;
Prescription education, including their purpose, interactions, side effects, dosage and times;
Suggestions about over-the-counter medication, herbal supplements, vitamins or minerals;
Help with filling out personal medicine records to include all drugs, immunizations and physicians;
Medication counseling;
Seasonal or lifetime immunizations;
Diabetes care instructions, including blood glucose monitoring, proper insulin injection, foot care and eye care;
Preventive health measures such as smoking cessation, asthma care, nutrition, exercise and physical activity, body mass index screening, skin care and dental care, and;
Heart health to include blood pressure and cholesterol screenings.

American Pharmacists Month signals a time to remember pharmacists for their important role in health care throughout the country in the form of improved medicinal use and patient care outcomes. Pharmacists are honored every October to remind the public about their expertise and the part they play in a patient-driven medical team.

Typically, most individuals visit their pharmacy and drop off their prescriptions in one window and collect them at another window. However, very few take the time to get to know their pharmacists and have them answer their questions and engage them to learn more about the medications they take.

Pharmacy technicians normally fill their medications but the pharmacist ensures that the medicine is the correct one, complete with dosage and instructions. He or she examines the prescriptions for interactions with food or other medicines that the patients may take. He or she speaks with physicians and insurance companies on a patient’s behalf and makes himself or herself accessible to answer questions and allay concerns.

Most pharmacists are qualified to do so. They have completed a four-year professional program and two years of pre-medicine undergraduate courses with training in the science of pharmacy and patient treatment. Some perform one to two years of residency training after obtaining their doctor of pharmacy degree. Upon employment, they command very high salaries over $100,000 a year.

Their assistants, pharmacy technicians, take vocational training or none. Much of their training takes place in community colleges in pharmacy operations and the technical elements of prescriptions such as counting and producing labels. Others have on-the-job training. They then secure jobs with salaries of $20,000 to $30,000 per year, depending on the skills learned.
As part of the ongoing celebration of American Pharmacists Month, the fourth Tuesday of October is National Pharmacy Technician Day.

Becoming acquainted with pharmacists can empower more patients and consumers to learn more about the medications they take.

Patients who know their pharmacists are two times as likely to ask them questions. They are just as likely to make appointments with them to discuss medicine, more apt to know the content of their prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, herbal supplements, vitamins and minerals.

In fact, knowing what is in prescriptions enables patients to avoid accidental overdose of contents found in multiple medications or conflicts among the active ingredients.

Research shows that most patients spend billions annually on prescription and over-the-counter medicines and some of the medications are not used properly. The costliest ones don’t work properly or may cause harm due to poor usage. Medications not taken as prescribed cause more than 1.5 million accidents or medical emergencies and cost the healthcare system about $290 billion.

As a result, one of the means of scaling back on healthcare costs is taking medicines properly. The incidence of medical errors declines when patients know their pharmacists, ask them questions and approach them for advice.

Additionally, it is best to buy medications at one pharmacy. A particular pharmacy maintains a database of all the medicines taken in the past and present.

To avoid delay, patients can ask their physicians to phone or fax their prescriptions, call to see if their medications are ready for pickup and have their prescriptions filled on weekdays before the work-week rush hour.

The American Pharmacists Association, which represents more than 62,000 practicing pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and other individuals interested in advancing the profession, advises patients to ask their pharmacists questions about their medicine such as the following:  

Is there a generic version of this medication and is it as effective as the brand name drug?

Does it matter what or when I eat with this medicine?

What side effects could I have?

What about mail-order pharmacies?

What medication was I prescribed and what does it look like?

What is this medication for?

How and when should I take this medication?

For how long should I take this medication?

Does taking this medication mean to stop taking an older medication?

What will happen if I don’t take this medication as prescribed?

When will the medication start working?

What adverse effects are possible?

What are the medication’s benefits and risks?

What are my allergies, if any?

Does the medication interact with my other medications?

Does the medication interact with food, alcohol or activities?

Does the medication have pregnancy or breast-feeding implications?

Does the medication require any regular tests such as blood work?

How should I store and dispose of the medication?

What do I do if there’s a problem with this medication?

How will I pay for the medication?

Do I have a complete list of medications and immunizations?

Are my immunizations up to date?

24) What is my pharmacist’s first name?

(NOTE: In honor of American Pharmacists Month, PharmPsych.com is offering up articles and advice columns on various subjects concerning the work of pharmacists, the field of pharmacy and those who support both. Vladimire Herard is chief communications officer for PharmPsych.com, our medical communications company and online community portal, and its sister websites, and freelancing contributing writer.)

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Last updated October 2014