Little-Known Benefits of Working With Your Pharmacist

Your local pharmacist does more than you know

In This Article

Not everyone has health insurance and not everyone has a primary care doctor. Everyone, however, has access to their local pharmacist.

Whether it’s taking care of a chronic illness, dealing with short-term symptoms from a cold or other illness, or looking for advice about managing your health, you always have someone to turn to for help. Learn what pharmacists like those at CVS Pharmacy, for example, do and how they can help you on your healthcare journey.

What Is a Pharmacist?

A pharmacist is a medically-trained professional, licensed in the state they practice, who specializes in the use of medications. They understand the chemical nature of these drugs, how they work, when they are safe to use, and what side effects you can expect. Whether you take prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications, you will benefit from having a pharmacist by your side.

Although pharmacists do not write prescriptions themselves, they are responsible for reviewing the more than 4 million prescriptions written by doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other qualified health professionals every year.

They consult with those healthcare providers directly to address any concerns about the dosing or appropriateness of a particular medication .

You may be one of the 60 million people who use OTC treatments ever year. After all, these medications are an accessible and often affordable way to address a number of common ailments. It can sometimes be daunting to see all the medications on the pharmacy shelves, especially when you consider the number of OTC medications that were once only available by prescription. A pharmacist can help you sort through the available options to find the medication that is right for you.

What Does Your Pharmacist Do?

Pharmacists dispense medications, but they do a whole lot more than that. They also address issues regarding safety, convenience, and cost when it comes to medication use.

Safety

Not only does a pharmacist assure that you are given the proper medication at the correct dosage and quantity, they also screen for drug-drug interactions. Some medications can cause unwanted side effects when taken with other medications, supplements, or even certain foods.

Your pharmacist can recommend alternatives to decrease your risk of complications. They will be your point person in the case of medication recalls for any medications you take.

Convenience

If a medication you need does not come in a certain formulation (e.g, it is only available in a pill form but you need a liquid version), your pharmacist may be able to prepare a compound medication for you.

Your pharmacist also assures your medications are packaged in a way that best meets your needs. For example, they can put medications in safety-lock containers as a precaution for homes with children. For adults who have difficulty opening bottles, medications can be given in more user-friendly containers or distributed in blister packs.

A pharmacist can also coordinate pillboxes for people taking multiple medications or combine a day's pills into medication bundles for ease of use. SimpleDose, offered by CVS, for example, offers multi-dose packs in one conveniently shipped box. Other pharmacies may also offer home delivery services.

Cost

A pharmacist can provide information on how to keep your prescription drug costs down. Whether it is by discussing generic options for the drugs you take, looking into available drug manufacturer coupons, or counseling on which Medicare Part D plan most affordably covers your prescription medications, they can help decrease how much you spend out of pocket.

Who Can Benefit From Talking to Their Pharmacist?

Your healthcare needs will vary depending on your age and whether or not you have chronic health conditions. If you are a caregiver, you may need help sorting out different health care options for your loved one. Simply put, you do not have to take prescription drugs to benefit from a visit to your local pharmacy.

  • Millennials: If you are young and otherwise healthy, odds are you do not need to go to the doctor often. You want a point person that is accessible and flexible when symptoms strike. Your pharmacist may be able to help.
  • People with Chronic Medical Conditions: Your pharmacist can provide information about your condition and help you manage your medications. The goal is to make refills convenient, efficient, and affordable and to streamline your care.
  • Seniors: It doesn't matter if you have chronic conditions or if you are otherwise healthy. Medicare is confusing. Your pharmacist can help you understand your coverage benefits, help you navigate the Annual Medicare Open Enrollment, and more.
  • Caregivers: Being a caregiver can be stressful, especially when it comes to finding the time and money to properly take care of someone in need. Your pharmacist can provide support and resources to help you better care for your loved one.

No matter who you are, you will benefit from a talk with your pharmacist if your health takes an unexpected turn. That said, even staying well takes effort. Let your pharmacist guide you to a healthy life.

Other Services Offered by Your Pharmacist

Your pharmacist is a valuable resource that betters your health and that of your community. They do this by providing education, addressing public health concerns, and offering ready access to those in need.

Education

Whether it relates to the specific medications you take or to common health issues you face every day (e.g., diet, exercise, stress management, etc.), a pharmacist can often provide you with the information you need in a one-on-one consultation. They frequently have print materials on hand to guide you, too.

They can also educate you regarding the proper use of medical supplies and durable medical equipment, like insulin needles and nebulizer machines.

Prevention

A major public health goal is to decrease the spread of infection. Many pharmacies, like CVS, offer influenza vaccinations during flu season. Some pharmacies provide other vaccinations too, including Hepatitis A and B, meningitis, MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), pneumonia, and shingles shots. They can notify your doctor's office about any vaccinations you receive.

Access

You may not always be able to get an appointment with your doctor any time you want, but you have ready access to your pharmacist. The good news is you do not need an appointment and the majority of pharmacies are open daily. Some, like CVS Pharmacy, have locations that are open 24 hours.

A Word From Verywell

Your local pharmacist does more than you know. As experts in medication management, they fill prescription medications and can guide you to the OTC medications that will best suit your needs. They provide other services as well, ranging from medical education to vaccination. When you understand all your pharmacist can do, you will see them as a valuable part of your healthcare team.

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Article Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Total number of retail prescriptions filled annually in the United States from 2013 to 2025 (in billions). Statistica. Updated March 2019.

  2. Statistics on OTC Use. Consumer Healthcare Products Association. Updated 2019.

  3. Prescription to Over-the-Counter (OTC) Switch List. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Updated September 20, 2018.