Drugs really are my life

  • Published
  • By Maj. Kevin McCaughin
  • 382nd Training Squadron
Pharmacists across the country are celebrating American Pharmacists Month this October with the theme "Know your medicine, know your pharmacist." 

The average pharmacist spends six years in college studying medications and their effects on the body. We pride ourselves in being the medication experts.

Working in military and civilian pharmacies for the past 10 years, I have heard many of these comments that never fail to make me smile. 

"Does it really take that long to put 30 pills in a bottle? Just slap a label on it and give it to me! It's just Motrin™." 

An average trip to a pharmacy consists of the pharmacist standing behind or around a large counter, talking to customers like talking to Wilson, the next door neighbor on the television show Home Improvement. We seem busy, but why? 

We are examining that simple prescription, putting tablets in a bottle and slapping a label on it. However, we do so much more. 

Every prescription you bring to the pharmacy is checked versus the others you are taking.  This ensures that there are no interactions or overdoses. Finally, we prepare to answer your questions and counsel you about possible side effects. 

You should ask your pharmacist what your medication is for, how often to take it, if there are any side effects, whether you can take it with food or other medications and whether or not you can have alcoholic beverages while on the medication. 

Additionally, you need to know how long to take it, is it a one-time prescription, or a permanent one. Finally, you should know how long it will take for you to see the effects of the medication, and what to do if you do not see any beneficial effect. 

Pharmacists aren't only found in traditional pharmacies. Recent research studies have highlighted the life-saving role pharmacists play in our nation's hospitals. Supermarkets, health centers and doctors' offices are increasingly hiring pharmacists. 

In all settings, pharmacists are consulting directly with doctors and patients about selecting and using the right medications and monitoring patients' progress on medication therapies. Pharmacists are consulting with assisted-living facilities, nursing homes and other residential care settings where some of the most vulnerable older people reside. 

Regardless of how many prescriptions you fill, and how many medications you take, medications will only work if we have ensured that you are educated and ready to take them. 

To see us, you don't need an appointment; we don't have someone screening our calls. Come to the window and ask to talk. We are here for you. Yes, we have many responsibilities and are often busy, but when you need us, you are priority number one!