Magazine article Drug Topics

A Pharmacist's Real Job: The Art and Ethics of Communications

Magazine article Drug Topics

A Pharmacist's Real Job: The Art and Ethics of Communications

Article excerpt


Your patients may be at risk. You can save them. A few years ago, Lindsey Tanner, a reporter for the Associated Press, wrote that "having trouble understanding medical information is bad for your health. Now new research says it could even be deadly."1

According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, low health literacy can be used to predict all-cause mortality and cardiovascular death among the elderiy living in the community.2

As Tanner put it, "a patient's ability to read common medical information, including prescription labels," can independently predict when a patient will die.1

The researchers found that 25% of the elderiy study participants were health-illiterate - unable to understand such things as prescription labels and doctor's instructions. Imagine your patients dying because they cannot understand the instructions on and about their medicine.

Smart is not enough

I teach at Midwestern University College of Pharmacy in Glendale, Arizona. As I interact with pharmacy students, I am amazed by how smart they are and how much pharmacy science they know. They know more about medicine, chugs, pharmacology, and pharmacokinetics than any practicing doctor I have ever met.

However, articles like the one in the Archives of Internal Medicine demonstrate that being a smart healthcare professional is not enough. Unless pharmacists and other healthcare professionals use their knowledge to help patients, their talents are wasted.

In this context, consider another profession - the practice of law. A lawyer's job is to communicate. Lawyers are taught to use their knowledge to communicate to others the things they know. They communicate with clients, judges, other lawyers, and more. Lawyers practice the art of communications. That art will increasingly define the future of pharmacy.

It's an art

Pharmacy is and always will be a science. It is the science of drugs, medicine, pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, and many other subjects necessary for the education of pharmacy students.

Increasingly, however, pharmacy is also becoming an art - the art of communications. If nothing else convinces us of this fact, we should be convinced by that study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Pharmacists can use their knowledge to help people live longer and better.

Everyone is ignorant about something. We are all ignorant in different areas and subjects. …

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