The Hospital Pharmacist has a simple goal: to provide the right medication, at the right dose, for the right patient, for the right amount of time.
Specifically working in the hospital, a Pharmacist:
Pharmacists obtain a Bachelors of Science degree in Pharmacy through an accredited University degree program. This is usually a four-year program along with one year of pre-requisite studies.
I work in an acute care hospital. We also work in rehabilitation centers, and the anti-coagulation clinic. In addition to the hospital (covering all wards including ICU, NICU, Hemodialysis, and Emergency), Pharmacists work in many settings, such as long term care and specialized outpatient clinics. Some of these clinics include anticoagulation, chronic kidney disease and transplant clinics, heart failure, infectious disease, and primary care clinics throughout the province.
Any patient entering the health care system, whether it is an in-patient or outpatient setting benefits from a Pharmacist being involved in their care. A Pharmacist’s consultation could reveal a number of issues, or drug related problems such as:
My favourite part of being a Pharmacist is when I can teach a patient how to correctly take their medications and they display a clear understanding of why it is important. Also I enjoy clearing up common misconceptions about medications or disease states and the patient then leaves more educated and aware of their health or the health of their loved ones. I feel most rewarded when my interaction with a patient directly improves the outcome of their health.
Staffing levels are always a concern. If there are not enough Pharmacists, there are a number of negative outcomes:
Drug shortages are another challenge and they always complicate situations, especially when the drug is the only one in its class of medications, or if it is a special formulation (for example, injectable vs. oral). Often in these situations, patients may not receive crucial medications in a timely manner, and alternatives given may not be the most effective.
When there are not enough Pharmacists, patient care suffers. Health care professionals who are not as specifically trained as Pharmacists are forced to perform these roles instead (for example, a nurse may counsel a patient on their five new medications post-heart attack).
Pharmacy service in hospitals is tailored to those wards where the patients are most acutely ill (for example, ICU, paediatrics, oncology). As a result of understaffing, patients in the general medicine wards, or surgical wards may never have a Pharmacist involved at all. This increases the chance of medication errors, along with an increase in the chance of adverse effects from medications that are not being reviewed. Some small rural centres may not have a Pharmacist on-site at all, so Physicians and Nurses process and administer all medications without any pharmacy involvement.