Frequently Asked Questions
Is everyone who works behind the pharmacy counter a pharmacist?
No. In many pharmacies, pharmacists have pharmacy technicians to assist with the day-to-day technical functions, so that pharmacists can focus their time on patient care responsibilities. Pharmacy technicians support pharmacists by performing duties that do not require the professional skills and judgement of a pharmacist and assisting in those duties that do require the expertise of a pharmacist. They are often involved not only with counting pills but also with preparing drugs, entering drug orders, controlling pharmacy inventory, checking other technicians’ work, maintaining the function of complex equipment and obtaining insurance authorizations. Pharmacy technicians may be trained on-the-job or certified through a formal technician program. Pharmacy technicians are employed in every practice setting where there is a pharmacy including community, hospital and long-term care pharmacies.
Why does the pharmacist ask me questions about my medical conditions? Do they really need to know that?
Your pharmacist’s main responsibility is to find, fix and prevent drug related problems. Many medications can be used for more than one medical condition. In order to ensure that your medications are appropriate for you and that you will get the most benefit from them, your pharmacist has to understand why you are taking the medications.
Why does it take so long to get my prescription filled?
There is a lot more to preparing your prescription than counting pills, typing a label and sticking it on a container. Your pharmacist checks the medication, dose and instructions to make sure they are right for you. S/he may have to contact your physician for clarification. S/he reviews your confidential profile to check for possible problems. This may include allergies or interactions with other medications you are taking. Your pharmacist enters the details of your current prescription onto your profile. Once your prescription is filled and checked your pharmacist talks to you about why you have been prescribed this particular drug. S/he counsels you on how and when to take your medication, what potential side effects you may need to watch for and how to store your medication.
Can I ask my pharmacist about correct dosing and possible side effects of common over-the-counter (non-prescription drugs), supplements and herbal remedies?
Yes. Please talk to your pharmacist. Too few patients take advantage of the pharmacist's knowledge and ask questions about non-prescription drugs and alternative therapies.
Aren’t pharmacists too busy preparing prescriptions to answer questions about medications?
On the contrary, an essential part of our job as pharmacists is to talk to you and discuss any questions you may have about your medications.