Pharmacists are increasingly becoming our first port of call for mild ailments. With GP surgeries working to catch up after the events of the last two years, many of us are heading to the nearest chemist rather than booking an appointment, freeing up vital space for those who perhaps need to see a doctor more.
But how do you know if your symptoms are something a pharmacist can help with, or if you need to see a doctor? What exactly are the things that a pharmacist can help with? Read on to find out.
What is a pharmacist?
A pharmacist is a healthcare professional who dispenses medication and provides advice on its proper use. They also provide guidance on how to lead a healthy lifestyle and prevent illness.
A pharmacist’s services are essential to patients, especially those who have chronic conditions or take multiple medications. A pharmacist can answer questions about side effects, drug interactions, and dosage. They can also help patients manage their medications by creating a personalized plan.
Pharmacists play an important role in the healthcare system and are a valuable resource for patients. If you have any questions about your health or medications, be sure to ask your pharmacist.
The main role of a pharmacist – also known as a chemist – is to administer medications and drugs and advise people on how to take them properly. Training takes five years and, in that time, the prospective pharmacists develop an expert-level knowledge of medicines and healthcare.
They work in a range of settings, from High Street chemists and hospitals to mental health centres and even supermarkets.
Before we get into the typical ways that pharmacists can help, it’s worth noting that there have been some significant changes in their role in recent months. One of the most significant – and potentially helpful for members of the community the pharmacists operate in – is that they can sign people off from work sick. Where once it was just GPs who could do this, the change to the law now makes getting a ‘fit note’ elsewhere possible in England, Wales and Scotland.
Another recent update is that, under new plans, people with potential signs of cancer can be assessed and referred for a hospital checkup at local pharmacies. This move is designed to speed up diagnosis and remove the workload that GPs are facing.
As well as these new responsibilities, pharmacists can oversee your long-term prescriptions. Repeat prescriptions given with permission from your GP can be easily accessed through your nearest pharmacy and in many cases, pharmacists come to know individual patients’ needs.
Alternatively, there are online pharmacists who offer a range of services designed to make organising repeat prescriptions easier. This can be especially useful if you have a lot of medications to keep track of day to day.
Advice on minor health concerns
Common conditions, such as coughs, cold, and the flu are typically treatable with over-the-counter medication. Pharmacists can provide advice on the best medicines and remedies to help people feel better.
Similarly, minor injuries or ailments, such as rashes, aches and pains can all be checked with your local pharmacist as a first port of call. They will recommend that you see a doctor if they think you need to, but often things like insect bites and other concerns can be treated with some help from a community chemist.
Inoculations and other services
Other services offered at pharmacies include:
- flu jabs and other inoculations
- the morning-after pill and contraception advice
- blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol testing
- asthma inhaler tips and advice
If you think you could visit your pharmacist before booking an appointment with your GP, try starting there. You might be surprised by how much they can help you.
The average American family spends more than $3,000 a year on medications. That’s a lot of money that could be going toward other things if you can find a way to save it. Luckily, there are ways to do just that.