I was not at all surprised to read the letter posted about a patient's perceived assumption about what a pharmacist does and what our role is in healthcare.
From the patient's point-of-view, the pharmacist receives a prescription like an order for dinner. He/She selects the correct med (double and triple checked with scanning) and sells it to the customer. This is the same customer that spent the entire day rushing around, probably saw a physician or nurse practitioner waiting longer than he/she should. In the patient's mind, the prescriber would never mess up and the pharmacist is the last step in that long drawn out process.
The retail chains have not helped with this perception. Drive-thrus were installed to help facilitate this fast-food mindset. People starting aligning thoughts of McDonalds and Walgreens in one idea: get it now; get it fast.
When I worked retail I felt the pressure of hundreds of prescriptions, the least technology in the business and wanting to please the customer. As the years have passed the number of new medications have increased along with demands and cutting the bottom line which usually translates into deep staffing cuts. I have no regrets leaving.
I had major surgery recently and felt guilty when I thought negative thoughts at the three hour wait the technician claimed on a Tuesday at 2pm at my chain retail pharmacy. You see, in the midst of all the chaos inside, there should still be someone discerning how fast a prescription can be completed based on more than just a prescription. What is it for? Is the patient post-op? But in their defense with how the pharmacy is set up and the minimal staff, it is survival mode. Three hours it is.
I am not sure how to even begin educating the public on what we do. I still have a father that fails to ask me questions about medications/disease states. We are a silent back-seat member of a team with a big piece of information. We go through sometimes eight years of school (6 minimum) to sit in the back seat. Many pharmacists are introverts and are not comfortable calling physicians at times unless absolutely necessary.
I understand that there may be some interns working in pharmacies learning the ropes, but that does not give you the right to say what's too strong for someone else, and this practice has become more widespread.
I am not sure Mr. Serlen understands the very thing he is questioning is our responsibility. We are held accountable, sir, for the very thing you complain. The sad thing is that I have no idea how to change the paradigm the rest of the country has regarding the pharmacists' role in healthcare.