Best Kept Secret in Healthcare

“Pharmacists are the best kept secret in healthcare.”

I believe this statement is true. Beyond the white coat in the local drug store or independent pharmacy in your neighborhood, is a healthcare profession that has gone through extensive training to learn about how drugs (medicine) interacts in one’s body amongst many other things.

I just came back from an incredible conference where the focus is on — pharmacists in a team based care setting. I knew a lot about pharmacy because it was what I thought I wanted to do when I started off in college. But after my bout with organic chemistry, I realized that such was not the case.

Back to the topic — the fact that bigger organization’s find value in having pharmacists in a team based care model is great because one of the biggest issues with regards to patient care is the fact that patients are not adhering to their medication for many reasons. From confusion of what to take to symptoms and side effects to forgetting to not understanding, there are a lot of reasons for no adherence to medications. This is where a pharmacist can really be an advantage in a primary care, hospital, geriatric, and mental health setting (some of the bigger themes of the conference).

I’m excited that this has become a focus, because pharmacists haven’t always gotten the best wrap. In fact, as a college student, I learned out of many health professions, a pharmacist is one of the most trusted, which is amazing, because an average adult patient sees their pharmacist more than their primary care provider. Interesting huh?

But more than that, one area I did want to bring up, is that pharmacists aren’t the only ones that are healthcare’s best kept secret. The fact is, non-physician providers are some of the best things that happened in healthcare. From the nurse practitioners to the physician assistants, I find that a lot of perceptions are that they are mid-level providers that aren’t as well educated or trained as physicians. I beg to differ. Yes, beyond pharmacists, PAs and NPs are young programs and may not have had much training as MDs and DOs, but, what I can say is that PAs and NPs are very good at what they do, because their training is gosh darn good. PAs and NPs aren’t specialists. That’s a physician’s job. But beyond the mere “basics” an PA and NP can do just as much, and ought to earn as much trust and respect as the physician.

On several occasions, I’ve heard of patients specifically asking for the PA or NP because at what point in their lives, they impacted their health in some way. That’s not to say that MD’s don’t have their place in all of this. They do, and I believe they’re pretty good at their job, but I find a lot of times that a non-physician provider doesn’t get the same kind of praise or respect that the MD or DO gets.

In an era where healthcare is changing for the better for the patient, where the notion of team based care is beginning to take more than just root and development, non-physician providers such as the pharmacists, PAs, NPs, even others such as the clinical social worker, health educators, and registered dietitians shouldn’t merely be a secret to good healthcare for the patient. It ought to be the best thing that’s happened in healthcare because we are all working towards the betterment of the patient.

Can we not learn and educate together, work together, for the betterment of the patient’s overall health? Are we not all working to try to bring the patient back to better health?

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