All over the world, pharmacists are celebrating the fifth World Pharmacists Day. This was established by the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), which represents over three million experts in medicines worldwide. September 25 was chosen because it is the date that the FIP was formed, in 1912.
“Medicines must go hand in hand with pharmaceutical expertise, or in other words, with pharmacists. Every day three million pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists around the world act as partners to patients, other health care professionals and other scientists, as well as policymakers, with the shared vision of better health” , explains Dr Carmen Peña, President, International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP).
For my contribution to World Pharmacists Day 2015, I’ve written a bit about why I decided to train to become a pharmacist and why I’m so proud to belong to my profession.
If you’ve read my other blog post Studying with M.E. – The proudest day of my life and my struggle to get there, you’ll remember that I started off at medical school but got ill and had to leave. While I was at medical school, I preferred to read BNF rather than what I was supposed to be learning about and I didn’t really enjoy dissections!
It was always my pharmacist who listened, even when others didn’t. She was always interested in how I was and took me seriously about the side effects caused by the various medication I was taking. At one point, I lost 3 stone very suddenly. My doctors suspected an eating disorder, but it was my pharmacist who believed me when I was saying I was eating normally and thought it was the medication I was on.
When I moved to a different pharmacy I had depression and also bad physical withdrawal symptoms from trying to stop smoking. Others had just laughed but it was my pharmacist who sat me down to talk about it all and helped me find ways of coping with the withdrawal and gave me some ideas about how to talk to my doctor.
For years I had lots of symptoms which my diagnosis at the time didn’t really explain. It didn’t seem to matter to my pharmacist, he just listened and understood how badly they were affecting me. He regularly gave me advice and recommended OTC treatments to help me cope with my symptoms, rather than being so focused on what my diagnosis was.
In my late 20s I started working part time in a pharmacy down the road from where I live. I really enjoyed it, especially talking to patients and helping to sort out problems with their medication. I was also fascinated by medicines and how they worked. I was always asking the pharmacist questions about them and the locum I worked with on Saturdays suggested I studied for a degree in pharmacy.
I decided to look into it and then applied to the University of Bradford School of Pharmacy, kind of on the off chance because I really didn’t think I’d get in, and I was so happy to be offered a place. There were many severe M.E. relapses, as I now know them to be, but I graduated after 7 years with a first class Master of Pharmacy degree and it was the proudest day of my life! I’ve been qualified for nearly 3 years and I now work as a Volunteer Pharmacist for Action for M.E. and you can read more about what I do in this blog post.
I really feel we have an untapped resource with pharmacists. Pharmacists are primarily scientists, but they also come into contact with patients more regularly than any other health professional. Pharmacists don’t care what meds we take or what our illness is classed as, or seen as, by others. We are on some tablets. We have an illness. It doesn’t matter to a pharmacist which tablets or which illness. The judgments just aren’t there and that’s part of what makes pharmacists approachable and why I think they could be a valuable resource to us M.E. patients.
Pharmacists are experts in medicines and how they work. We have five years education and training and play a key role in providing quality healthcare to patients. We work in the community, hospitals, industry and academic settings and use our clinical expertise to ensure the safe supply and use of medicines by the public.
Links about pharmacy on my blog
I’m currently writing a blog series about pharmacy and pharmacy professionals but for now please take a look at these links:
- Please let me know how your pharmacy helps
- Pharmacy access to medical records – the facts behind the Telegraph article
- #pharmacy24 – my M.E. tweets for the pharmacy Twitter event
- #pharmacy24 highlights – what do pharmacy teams actually do?
- Support from your pharmacy if you’re an unpaid carer
- Help with communication and information: NHS England’s Accessible Information Standard
- Prescription Charges Coalition campaign for free prescriptions
- Help with prescription costs in England
- What does my pharmacist do with my prescription?
- Flu and the flu vaccination
- World Pharmacists Day 2016: #GoGreen4PS
- Independent pharmacist explains the impact of the pharmacy cuts | Pharmacy Talk
- M.E./CFS guide for pharmacy teams launched
- Essential M.E./CFS facts infographic for pharmacy teams
- Pharmacy M.E./CFS resource makes it into pharmacy news!
You can see all the events pharmacists are taking part in around the world by following the hashtag #WorldPharmacistDay.
If you like this article, please consider donating to the charity I work with as Volunteer Pharmacist & Research Officer by texting EBME99 £3/£5/£10 to 70070 or visiting my JustGiving page.