Pharmacists Are My Unsung Heroes of the Medical Profession

Suzanne DePaolis avatar

by Suzanne DePaolis |

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I have a rare illness called eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis, or EGPA. It causes an increased number of white blood cells known as eosinophils, which can cause significant inflammation in my organs and my small and medium blood vessels. EGPA has affected my heart, lungs, sinuses, gastrointestinal system, and peripheral nerves.

Many medical professionals deal with my symptoms and medication side effects. I have medical doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and therapists. I see more medical specialists than I can count on two hands. It has taken me many years to be confident and comfortable with my team of medical professionals.

If asked which medical professionals I could not live without, I’d quickly answer, “My pharmacists.” This may surprise many. Why would I not say my rheumatologist, who coordinates my care team, or my asthma doctor, who deals with my most prevalent and challenging symptoms? Even my cardiologist and infectious disease specialists seem to be likely candidates for my most valuable medical professional. These medical professionals are outstanding, and they work hard at giving me an excellent quality of life, but my answer is still my pharmacists.

My pharmacists are vital to my medical team. I see them every week or two to pick up my many prescriptions. They are genuinely happy to see me and greet me with a smile. They check if my medications are available and keep me informed of any delays in deliveries. They make sure all of my refills arrive in a timely matter.

They teach me about new medications my doctors have prescribed, and they check for any interactions between my medications. They inform my doctors of any concerns about prescription drug combinations. And if I change medications because of side effects, they note it to avoid other medicines with similar ingredients.

I like to travel, and when I leave on a trip, my pharmacists make sure I have enough medication. If I run out while I’m away, we have a system in place that allows me to pick up a refill somewhere else. Sometimes, my pharmacists work with my doctors to make sure I have any additional travel supply of medications that I may need.

In the early months of COVID-19, my pharmacists brought my prescriptions to my car, so I didn’t have to enter the pharmacy and expose myself to potential spread of the virus. They know of my underlying medical conditions, and although I am not in their standard delivery area, they offered me options to avoid entering the pharmacy.

As a bonus, my pharmacists even save me money. They keep me informed of any eligible co-pay cards or saving certificates. They tell me about generics. If my insurance doesn’t cover a particular medication, they do their best to promptly inform my doctor and see what alternatives are on my insurance’s eligibility list.

I believe my pharmacists are tremendously valuable in my quest to stay healthy. I send my pharmacists thank-you cards and even yearly Christmas gifts. They help me maintain a good quality of life, and I am grateful for that. Please take a moment to thank these unsung professionals on our medical teams.

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