Posted by: Ayla Atalar8 AUG 2011
As my family andfriends know all about my degree, people that all know the role of a pharmacistsurround me. A friend recentlytold me that if somebody doesn’t know what a pharmacist is, say a ‘chemist’. Iam, however, reluctant to do this. This made me realise that many peoplebelieve pharmacists and a chemists are the same things. Chemists tend to workin a laboratory and tend to develop the medicines and study how certainchemicals interact. Pharmacists work in a hospital or pharmacy and supply themedicines while checking prescriptions and give advice to the patients.
Since I have stared mydegree, I have also had more than a few people ask me what I want to do after Ifinish university. Once I say that I want to be a pharmacist, they then proceedto ask what I will be doing as a pharmacist. It seems as though the only peoplethat understand what pharmacists do are other healthcare professionals, thecolleagues that work alongside pharmacists, for example in supermarkets, orpeople that have a pharmacist in the family! The question I ask myself is why?Is it because pharmacists spend time in the dispensary with less patientcontact than doctors? Is it because patients have more faith in the doctors toprescribe their medicines? If so, then it means that as the role of pharmacistschange to involve more patient contact, and as more pharmacists becomeprescribers, pharmacists should be getting more recognition as time goes on.Lets see if my theory proves to be correct!
On a different note, theother day, as the news was on in the background, I heard the word asthma. Asthis was a word I heard very regularlylast year for one of my modules, my ears unintentionally pricked up. And itproved to be interesting.
The UK is behind othercountries in treating asthma and a review is being conducted now to find outwhy this is the case. Obviously there could be many reasons behind this, suchas patient factors, lack of recognition of the symptoms, wrong treatment…thelist goes on. But it is believed one of the reasons could be underusingcorticosteroids, which applies to one third of patients in serious asthmaattacks. It also said that 20 to 30 % of deaths due to asthma are because of alack of monitoring from health care professionals and patients. Clearly thereshould be more monitoring from doctors and pharmacists. Since a large 90% ofasthma deaths could be prevented, there would be a huge potential to save livesif full monitoring took place. Reasons for the underusage of corticosteroids arealso a major factor, and these reasons should be uncovered duringmonitoring. Asthma affects a largenumber of children, with 1.1 million children (1 in 11) being treated forasthma in the UK (www.asthma.org.uk). Therefore, parents play a major role inensuring their children take their medication regularly. Perhaps busyschedules, or even recurring oral thrush as a side effect may influence the correctand regular usage of inhaled corticosteroids.
On another different note,very recently (today as of fact) it has emerged that exercise can benefitpatients with cancer. Exercise can help reduce the side effects of treatment andreduce the risk of dying. Although patients may feel tired after treatment,they should be encouraged to two and a half hours of moderate physical activitya week to help combat the fatigue, to reduce the risk of the cancer returningand to increase the chance of survival. Pharmacists can now reinforce this forpatients being treated with cancer. Sounds like exercise has become a new drug!