The September, 2014 issue of Pharmacy Today had an article by Dr. Randy P. McDonough, entitled:
"How are you perceived by patients and the general public?"
This article reviews some of the public perceptions based on his interpretation of their comments from the Des Moines Register.
Dr. McDonough feels that although most comments were positive, there's still a lot of misconceptions of what people think about their pharmacist as having "provider status." His advice to overcome this perception is that as a pharmacist, we need to change these perceptions. Medication reviews, counseling, identifying and resolving drug therapy issues. working with other health care providers, and providing clinical services for patients are all seen as ways to improve patient perceptions of the pharmacist.
If only it were that simple, however. From my perspective as a pharmacist in a retail pharmacy, I see it differently, however. Pharmacists WANT to be that kind of pharmacist. We WANT provider status. We studied hard to earn our degrees and we WANT to be a valued member of the healthcare squad.
The PROBLEM, however, is the companies we work for, specifically on the retail side. At my lovely company we've been introduced to the money-making part of "provider status" but it is simply treated as a revenue stream for The Authorities.
Example: When The Authorities at Goofmart Pharmacy figured out that we can bill for MTM, specifically medication reviews, one thing they rolled out was having patients come in for a medication review. And yes, that's great, and yes, that helps the patient, BUT on the pharmacist side nothing was given our way to make this a workable reality. We were told to use our "overlap" time to make these appointments. That's hardly ever convenient to the patient. In that case, the pharmacists are just expected to come in and do this on their day off. So the company makes money and the pharmacist helps the patient without there being any incentive to the pharmacist.
In order to make "provider status" a reality that's accepted by the retail pharmacist, the big companies have to make some changes and investments. First on the list would be increased technician hours. How can we be expected to keep up the regular workload AND do all this clinical stuff without more help? When I come on shift there's a huge pile of prescriptions to check and people to counsel. How can I be expected to take an hour to step into the counseling room to do a medication review? Our system can't handle it.
I agree that as pharmacists we need to do our part to make "provider status" a reality. We need to do our part, and we will. BUT we ALSO need our companies to stand behind us as well to make this a reality. Not many pharmacists are going to line up for the extra work without some concessions our way in the retail environment.