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News & Press: Advocacy

Pharmacy Day on Capitol Hill

Thursday, May 15, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Shannon Glaittli
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by Whitney Johnston and Kelsee Geurts - 

On February 18th, 2014 I sat across a table from a middle-aged man on Capitol Hill. This was a special day for pharmacy in the state of Utah, as pharmacists and pharmacy students came together on Capitol Hill with a goal to provide free health screenings and education to the public and our senators and congressional representatives. I prepared myself to check this gentleman’s cholesterol levels. After obtaining a small blood sample from a prick in his finger we waited for his results.

During our short wait time I asked this gentleman how pharmacists have been beneficial to him in his life. “They keep me alive,” he responded. His comment caught me off guard so I proceeded to find out exactly what he meant. He explained that he was taking Coumadin, a blood thinner, and frequently visited a Coumadin Clinic where pharmacists monitored his blood to keep his clotting rate at appropriate levels. “I will be on this medication the rest of my life, so as long as I am still here, I will be dependent on a pharmacist to keep me alive.”

Each year Utah's two state pharmacy organizations, Utah Pharmacy Association and Utah Society of Health System Pharmacists, and two colleges of pharmacy, University of Utah and Roseman University of Health Sciences, come together on Capitol Hill to educate the public on the profession of pharmacy and provide special services. This year over 100 pharmacists and student pharmacists provided cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood glucose screenings, while also administering free immunizations.

Senator Evan Vickers, one of Utah’s greatest advocates for the profession of pharmacy, discussed a few key points about what makes a pharmacist valuable. “Pharmacists help patients understand how to take their medications, when to take them, how to give them to their kids, and the importance of taking them in a timely manner.”

He went on to emphasize that physicians often have limited time to properly instruct patients how to take their medications and what they are specifically used for. “It is the responsibility of the pharmacist to help the patient fully understand their medications.” Senator Vickers concluded by explaining that a pharmacist is very accessible to the public, providing a comfortable environment for patients to ask questions.

Along with providing health screenings pharmacy students presented posters addressing important public health and pharmacy related topics. One poster of particular interest was that of polypharmacy, the use of multiple medications.

In 2008, more than one in three adults aged 75 and older were taking at least five prescription medications. This is where pharmacists play a vital role in the lives of patients taking multiple medications. They are specifically trained to know how medications work in the body, how they should be administered for safe and effective use, what food or medications they interact with, and what side effects they can cause.

Rob Bishop, personal staff to Senator Valentine, commented that it is a scary thought to be on multiple medications and not know the dangers of the interactions. Many of these drug-related interactions can lead to serious health complications resulting in hospitalization and over 75 percent of these could be avoided with proper supervision. As the profession of pharmacy continues to progress, more and more medication counseling services are being offered to prevent these problems from occurring and to educate the public on the medications they are using.

Pharmacy Day on Capitol Hill provided an opportunity for pharmacists and student pharmacists to not only provide free health screenings and education, but also to inform the public of the valuable influence of a pharmacist. The pharmacy services and knowledge of a pharmacist can be greatly utilized when it comes to medication use, education, and disease state management. It is critical to increase public awareness of the beneficial, and potentially lifesaving, influence a pharmacist has on personal health. We, in the profession of pharmacy, take with seriousness our obligation to provide a quality, substantial, and informed service to all members of society.


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