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Are All Pharmacists Created Equally?



Unlike other factions in the medical world, where not all doctors are surgeons and not all surgeons can perform on all parts of the body, pharmacists are allowed to dispense medications, educate patients on drugs, and so much more — all through a pharmacy license.

Recently, there has been a buzz about a need for more high-quality credentialing. Common for the medical professional, this approach has not gained much traction in the pharmacy world. The result would be much like in the world of doctors and surgeons where one can only do specific things based on skills and training.

Nowadays, pharmacists are taking on immunizations, reviewing of medication, and advising patients on transitions of care. The horizon is endless, too. In the future, pharmacists could be able to order routine lab tests and administer medications in clinics or hospitals.

In Israel, for example, there is legislation being passed that would allow for pharmacists to prescribe medication on the spot, benefitting the patient in countless ways. Imagine being able to administer a rapid strep test to a sick child in the pharmacy! If it comes back positive, the ability to dispense an antibiotic immediately would soften the burden on doctors and the entire healthcare system.

In my opinion, Australia has done more for pharmacists that any other country, where certain medications can be dispensed at the pharmacist’s discretion. For example, if a child comes in wheezing and short of breath, an Australian pharmacist can dispense a Ventolin Inhaler for asthma. In Israel, this would be illegal.

Likewise, in the U.K., pharmacists are allowed to dispense a small amount of chronic medication at their discretion for continuing treatment even without a prescription. In Israel, this also is illegal.

What do you think? Do you trust your pharmacist to do more than dispense your medication? Should special credentialing be involved for different types of things like giving immunizations, counseling patients, or providing medication through an online pharmacy? 

This post comes from Saul Kaye, IsraelPharm’s in-house pharmacist with more than 15 years of experience in community pharmacy in Israel. Questions? Email Saul!
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