The primary mission of the pharmacy profession is to have a positive impact on the provision of public health service by ensuring the safe and effective use of medications. There are various facets to this mission, including the preparation and distribution of medications, as well as contact with patients and other members of the healthcare team.
Practice of pharmacy
According to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), the practice of pharmacy involves the:
- Interpretation, evaluation and implementation of medical orders
- Dispensing of prescription drugs
- Participation in the selection of drugs and medical devices
- Administration of medication
- Review of drug regimens
- Research about drugs and related topics
- Provision of patient counseling
- Compounding and labeling of drugs and devices
- Appropriate storage of drugs and medical devices
- Maintenance of medical records
Optimal medication therapy requires a system to promote the desired clinical, humanistic and economic outcomes. Pharmacists play a key role in the provision of effective health care by managing the medication therapy for patients to ensure medications are used in an appropriate manner to achieve health goals more effectively and with minimization of costs.
Contemporary pharmacy practice
Pharmacy practice is evolving to reflect the modern needs of patients and the health care system.
Traditionally, the role of the pharmacist focused on the distribution of medications and counseling of patients on the appropriate use and administration of medications. However, this is changing to a more clinical role in the provision of patient-centered health care, including medication management, disease prevention and the overall improvement of public health.
Multidisciplinary healthcare teams are becoming an essential part of the modern healthcare system, which focuses on adaptable care that prioritizes the patient’s best interests. In this model, the pharmacist works alongside other health professional to provide the best healthcare by offering expertise about the safe and effective use of medicines.
Additionally, as the mechanical process to labeling and medication supply can largely be replicated by technological dispensing systems, the attention of the pharmacist can become more focused on improving patient outcomes. In particular, the time allowed for patient contact and consultations is increased so that patients can obtain a more comprehensive understanding of their medication regimen and health.
Challenges in the pharmacy practice profession
A substantial challenge in the pharmacy practice profession is the rational use of medicine. Patients should receive the appropriate medications at the required dosages at the most affordable cost for them and the public health system. However, this is not the real outcome in most cases for patients in the current system, as there are common issues of incorrectly prescribed medications and patient non-adherence.
Additionally, antimicrobial resistance is a growing concern for pharmacy practice. A recent report from the World Health Organization has reported up to 90% resistance to some traditional first-line antibiotics (e.g. ampicillin) and up to 70% resistance to other common antibiotics (e.g. amoxicillin). Various measures should be taken to address the issue of antimicrobial resistance to promote, with an emphasis of the appropriate use of medications. This should involve collaboration with several other professions, including other health professional and regulatory authorities.
The profession of pharmacy should become more focused on patient-centered care through the provision of medications and advice about the appropriate use of medicines.
Reviewed by Afsaneh Khetrapal BSc (Hons)