This Daily Doodle is in support of Alberta local pharmacies and local pharmacists across Canada. When I was undergoing treatments at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton, my mentor would pick me up each week to take me to “his pharmacist” to have my prescriptions filled. The way he said “his pharmacist” was similar to how someone would say, my doctor or my physiotherapist – as if he actually knew the pharmacist. I have never had a pharmacist before. My previous experiences with pharmacists involved going to one of the giant supermarket style pharmacies, getting distracted by the electronics section and end up leaving with random unnecessary purchases while forgetting to get my prescription filled. When I went back, the actual pharmacy part of the pharmacy was hidden in the farthest back corner. No wonder I got distracted! I had to walk through every section before I found the pharmacy. Often, I would drop off and pick up my prescription without even talking to a pharmacist. When I had questions, I had to “request” to speak to a pharmacists, who would usually restate the directions: one pill, three times a day with meals, and give me a print out of information to read. There were times that I had an amazing pharmacist who answered all my questions and was very personable and friendly, but the concept of “my pharmacist” was new to me because I rarely saw the same pharmacist more than once.
I was surprised when my mentor parked the car by a small tiny building in more of a residential area. The sign was old fashioned, non-illuminated and the decorations in the window looked like one of those old-fashion pharmacies with mortars and pestles. The front of the store had a small selection of snacks and stationary, while the majority of the store was actually a pharmacy. It was the first time I went to a “pharmacy” and did not have to look for the pharmacist. When the pharmacist saw my mentor walk in, he greeted him by name. My mentor introduced me to his pharmacist, who taught me all about the medications I was taking, answered all my questions and even suggested some pharmacy apps for my iPhone. It was a great experience. The next time I went to the pharmacist to get my prescription filled, he greeted me by my name, “Hi Michiko! How are you today?” No prescription drop off box, no requesting to see the pharmacist because the pharmacist was right there, greeting me as I walked in. I am proud to say that I now have a pharmacist!
I was sad to find out that local pharmacies, such as my new pharmacy, are becoming few and far between. The big super pharmacies are taking over. In addition to the overwhelming push by the big retail based pharmacies, the government of Alberta introduced several changes in May 2013, making it more difficult for the local community based pharmacies to survive.
For more information about how to support your local pharmacists, please see the links below. If you have never been to a local community pharmacist, try it out! I am so happy I now have a local pharmacist, someone I can count on as a member of my health care team.
“Support Local Pharmacy” Daily Doodle by Michiko Maruyama