Pharmacist as ‘physician extender:’ Mainstream media finally catching on?
ALEXANDRIA, Va. If a lengthy story in Tuesday’s The Washington Post and a slew of other recent newspaper stories and televised news reports are any indication, it’s finally beginning to dawn on the nation’s mainstream media outlets that pharmacy is about a lot more than counting pills into bottles.
Led by such groups as the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association, the retail pharmacy profession has waged a years-long campaign to educate lawmakers, health-policy experts, health-plan payers and the public at large about its increasingly critical role as frontline healthcare provider. Finally, that message appears to be getting through.
The traditional image of the community pharmacist as a remote presence “sequestered behind a counter doling out pills” is long out of date, reporter Sandra Boodman acknowledges in Tuesday’s Washington Post. “That may have been an accurate job description for a retail druggist circa 1978…but it bears little resemblance to the multi-tasking the job requires these days,” she wrote.
Boodman, who spent “several days” with Charley John, a Walgreens pharmacist in Alexandria, reports that retail pharmacists today must navigate a broad and demanding workday that calls on a wide range of patient counseling skills, health expertise and professional judgment. She notes that pharmacy schools have “overhauled their programs, extending training from a four-year bachelor’s degree to a doctorate that requires six years of schooling” to accommodate an increasingly complex role for pharmacists as front-line patient-care specialists.
Boodman tracks John’s workday as patient counselor, educator, link between patients and their doctors, insurance coordinator and provider of immunizations and other health services. She also notes the job satisfaction the Walgreens pharmacist derives from his role as an “unflappable, efficient and empathic” provider of drug therapy and advice to his patients.
Among the experts quoted by The Post: Lynnae Mahaney, president of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, who asserts that pharmacists “have become ‘physician extenders’ in hospital and community settings.” That portrayal, as reported in one of the nation’s most respected and widely read newspapers, could mark a watershed in community pharmacy’s long effort to win recognition for its contribution to the nation’s fractured healthcare system.
Boodman also quotes Edith Rosato, SVP pharmacy affairs for NACDS and president of the NACDS Foundation. Calling pharmacists “the face of neighborhood health care,” Rosato notes that pharmacists’ training and duties “have undergone a metamorphosis in the past two decades,” Boodman notes, “as health care has become more complicated and the use of medications has exploded.”
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Bennett named DrSN publisher
NEW YORK Drug Store News, Pharmacy Practice, PharmacyTech News, Retail Clinician and Specialty Pharmacy magazines, as well as all Drug Store News electronic media products.—Lebhar-Friedman Inc., parent company of The Drug Store News Group, last month named Wayne Bennett publisher of the group, which includes
The move, which became effective just prior to the holidays, acknowledges the considerable contributions Bennett has made to the Drug Store News franchise over a highly successful 15-year career with the company. Bennett, who most recently served as associate publisher of the group and national sales manager prior to that, has played an instrumental role in the overall growth of the enterprise from the single flagship Drug Store News print edition to the group of publications and e-media products that comprise The Drug Store News Group today.
Bennett succeeds John Kenlon, who in 2009 was named VP and group publisher for Lebhar-Friedman’s retail division, which includes The Drug Store News Group as well as Chain Store Age, Retailing Today and Home Channel News, including all print and electronic products.
“Wayne has a genuine passion for retail pharmacy and wants the industry to succeed—not just Drug Store News,” Kenlon said. “For that reason, suppliers and retailers want to work with him; they know he will do everything he can to help improve their businesses.”
Bennett first joined Lebhar-Friedman in October 1995 as area manager for Drug Store News.
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Finding synergy between food, Rx
Drug Store News interview with Helen Eddy, VP health and wellness at Hy-Vee
Drug Store News: How did Hy-Vee get the idea to have pharmacists and dieticians collaborate on educating patients about disease states and health management?
Helen Eddy: We started by having three corporate dieticians on staff, which grew into having dieticians in the stores. The evolution of the pharmacist and dietician teams was just a natural partnership that evolved quickly. I credit our stores for recognizing the synergies and developing the programs. At Hy-Vee, the best ideas come from our stores.
DrSN: What do you hope to accomplish the most?
Eddy: Richard Jurgens, our chairman and CEO, has stated that our goal is to be the healthiest company in America, and then to help the states in which we operate become the healthiest states in the nation. We will do that through employee and customer programs that help them live healthier lifestyles and reverse the obesity epidemic.
DrSN: How do you leverage your capabilities as a supermarket pharmacy in educating patients with chronic disease states?
Eddy: Supermarket pharmacies are uniquely positioned to help customers achieve their health goals through the combination of pharmacy and healthy food choices. Every time that we are educating a customer about a disease, we address diet and healthy lifestyles.
Prescription medications alone usually are not enough to achieve the desired health outcome. It also requires that we address diet and nutrition. The supermarket, where [customers] shop, is the ideal classroom for teaching customers how to live healthier lives.
DrSN: What roles can supermarket pharmacies play in the U.S. healthcare system?
Eddy: Our healthcare crisis will not be resolved until we address obesity and begin preventing chronic disease. The supermarket pharmacy is an accessible, unique resource for both patients and healthcare professionals. Supermarket pharmacies have the health expertise of their pharmacists, combined with healthy, fresh food.
At Hy-Vee, we are already seeing physicians referring patients to our dieticians and pharmacists for education because we combine nutrition and chronic disease education. The result is better patient outcomes.
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