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Every pharmacist is a clinical pharmacist!

Johnathan Laird
Johnathan Laird

does one move from ‘pharmacist’ to ‘clinical pharmacist’?

In my view, this transition occurs as soon as pharmacists begin to deliver pharmaceutical care with patients…so probably within the first five minutes of being a practicing pharmacist!

Hepler and Strand [1] defined the term pharmaceutical  care as: “The responsible provision of drug therapy for the purpose of achieving definite outcomes that improve a patient’s quality of life.”

To apply this concept a pharmacist does not have to do anything complicated. It could be something as simple as explaining the importance of avoiding alcohol when taking a course of metronidazole as the drug is dispensed. Or, it could involve a complex series of decisions to de-prescribe drugs as part of a complicated example of polypharmacy.

Both actions have the patient at the centre and ultimately have the goal of improving the standard of care. The definite outcome in the metronidazole example is, of course, avoidance of the disulfiram reaction, and therefore avoidance of the inevitable patient discomfort, not to mention the likely termination of treatment by the patient, if they suffer this potentially nasty reaction.

So, in my view, if you apply pharmaceutical care then you are a clinical pharmacist.

As pharmacists, we have a legal and professional obligation to deliver pharmaceutical care as a matter of course in our day-to-day practice. This is where the Royal Pharmaceutical Society support network comes in to support professional pharmacists in this endeavour.

The term pharmaceutical care is the bedrock upon which modern pharmacy practice must build. I wanted to take a moment to pay tribute to Hepler and Strand who conceived the idea and wrote about it back in 1990.

The concept is as relevant today as it was then and the paper below is a must read for all pharmacists regardless of setting.

There is no such thing as a non clinical pharmacist.

Johnathan Laird is a community pharmacist independent prescriber with a special interest in asthma. He is based in Aberdeen.

Follow Johnathan @JohnathanLaird

[1] Hepler CD & Strand LM. Opportunities and responsibilities in pharmaceutical care. American Journal of Health Systems Pharmacy 1990; 47: 533-543

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