Guide to Selecting a Pharmacist


The following recommendations are provided to you when chosing a pharrmacy for your services:

Look for a broad range of expertise and services. You need to be sure the pharmacist is knowledgeable about the proper use of over-the-counter medications and all the prescriptions you use.

Select a pharmacy and stick with it. Using more than one pharmacy can put you in jeopardy if you are taking several kinds of medications.

Get recommendations from doctors, nurses, and other health care workers as well as from friends and relatives. Pharmacists build their practices around satisfied patients and excellent relationships with other health care providers.

Talk with the pharmacist and observe the pharmacist at work. Look for evidence of professionalism and expertise. Check the atmosphere, too: Is the pharmacist always rushed and overworked? Does the pharmacy have a location set aside for consultations with the pharmacist?

Ask the pharmacist questions. Is the pharmacist readily accessible and approachable? If you need more than a few minutes of the pharmacist's time, is the pharmacist willing to telephone you or set aside a time for an appointment to spend more time with you?

Look for a pharmacist who is your health care advocate. A pharmacist must be willing to give you specific recommendations that help you address your needs. A pharmacist must be willing to refer you to other health care professionals and to work with your physician directly when needed.

Make sure the pharmacist asks about and keeps records of your medical history. To advise you properly or to share information with your physician, the pharmacist must know your medical history. Your history should include personal data (such as age, height, and weight), medical conditions, and all medications you take (including prescription and over-the-counter medications and any vitamins or other nutritional supplements). The pharmacist is bound to maintain the confidentiality of that information.

Determine how effectively the pharmacist communicates. The pharmacist must be able to provide verbal and written instructions, and they should be clear and specific. You should feel confident about the information you receive, and you should feel comfortable enough to return for more advice or telephone the pharmacist if you have questions.

Choose a pharmacist who looks for ways to help you keep to your medication regimen. The pharmacist should be ready to help you find solutions to issues that may affect your ability to follow advice and to take your medications as directed. This might include talking to your doctor about ways to simplify drug therapy or reduce the number of doses, checking for insurance coverage, or exploring less expensive alternatives.

Be an active, informed health care consumer. Your pharmacist should welcome your inquiries and assist you in learning more about your health care.

Your pharmacist and you: partners in health Today more than ever, you—the patient—are the most important person on your health care team. Your pharmacist is trained and ready to help you take charge of your health.

So take advantage of the expertise of your pharmacist and the full range of medication counseling and wellness support that today's professional pharmacist has to offer. Talk to your pharmacist about the role that medications, self-care products, home health medical devices, and nutritional supplements can play in achieving better health. Go to your pharmacist when you're trying to decide whether a minor problem can be safely self-treated or requires a doctor's advice and care. Get recommendations from the pharmacist when you're trying to choose an over-the-counter medication or when you're having trouble taking your prescription medicines.

The pharmacist is your partner in health. So choose wisely—and look for the best. You owe it to yourself!

The guide is excerpted from a longer "Guide" that was published by the American Pharmacists Association as a supplement in Pharmacy Today.

The late Herb Denenberg was an acclaimed consumer and investigative reporter whose numerous responsibilities included service as Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner.

Created on June 2, 2010

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