The Perception of Pharmacists

As an educated, healthcare professional, we know what the profession of pharmacy entails and we remain up-to-date on what is happening in the healthcare field. However, the general population and those not involved in healthcare may not realize what a being a pharmacist entails and what is done on a daily basis. People may not realize all that pharmacists can contribute to their individual healthcare.

The Missouri Pharmacy Association (MPA) is beginning a campaign to raise awareness about what community pharmacists can contribute to their patients’ healthcare. I had the privilege to attend the first campaign meeting with the MPA, St. Louis College of Pharmacy, University of Missouri Kansas City School of Pharmacy, and others including Red Cross Pharmacy, Whaley’s Pharmacy, Cardinal Health and PBA Health. This meeting was to brainstorm and set goals for what needs to be accomplished with the campaign. The committee members of the Pharmacist Awareness Campaign were trying to determine how the public views pharmacists, how they can change these perceptions and let the public and other healthcare professionals know what being a pharmacist actually demands.

About two weeks after the initial committee meeting, a Sarah Luebbert, director of communications at the MPA, and I went to Columbia and Jefferson City to survey the public. We did this using a short survey asking questions about their last visit to a pharmacy and their perception of the pharmacist. I figured that we might get a lot of “they give me my prescriptions.” However, a majority of the people we spoke with thought that pharmacists are knowledgeable and educated. Another question that we asked was why they were in the pharmacy on their last visit. We were anticipating that this would include OTC products or convenience items. Many people said they went for medications and when clarified, prescriptions. They also gave us a look like “why else would I go to a pharmacy.” One couple specifically stated that if the nurse or doctor does not call them back in a timely fashion, they would call their pharmacist about the problem. We also asked about other services that a pharmacist could offer and most stated they were happy with what they were receiving but were unaware of other services that may be offered by their pharmacy.

As a student, we are encouraged to get involved and get out in the community to do events like health screenings including blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and fall prevention. We are also encouraged to give back to the community in projects like Habitat for Humanity and health literacy. All of these things are helping to raise community awareness about how a pharmacist may be involved in their healthcare besides giving them their monthly prescription refill. These things are beneficial to the students for experience and to the community to let them see that pharmacists do other things in the pharmacy profession besides dispense pills. The surveys showed that not everyone is aware of the services that pharmacies are starting to offer more frequently, such as immunizations and health screenings. This showed me that there is room for improvement on raising awareness about how we can help people on a daily basis in our profession.

Megan K. Baker
Missouri Pharmacy Association Rotational Student
Pharm.D. Candidate 2014
St. Louis College of Pharmacy

“The Missouri Pharmacy Association promotes the role of pharmacists in patient care relationships as the medication expert.”

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