October is American Pharmacists Month. This celebration—recognizing pharmacists’ contributions to health care and all they do for their communities—includes Women Pharmacist Day (October 12); Pharmacy Week (October 18-24), acknowledging the invaluable contributions of pharmacists and technicians to patient care; and Pharmacy Technician Day (October 20).
Pharmacists are busier than ever with flu season and the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, making it particularly important this year to take the time to celebrate and acknowledge our pharmacy staff’s contributions.
Let’s take a look at a few ways that pharmacists are celebrating the value of the profession this month.
5 Ways to Celebrate American Pharmacists Month
1. Provide coffee and treats, or a catered meal, for pharmacy staff throughout the month to demonstrate appreciation.
2. Decorate the pharmacy with signs or displays that promote American Pharmacists Month.
3. Use your pharmacy's social media page to introduce your employees, share brief bios about each staff member, and post pictures highlighting activities in the pharmacy.
4. Give back to the community by offering health screening events or promoting flu vaccinations.
5. Recognize your technicians on Pharmacy Technician Day (October 20) and celebrate their contributions.
Trisha Winroth, PharmD, pharmacy manager at Walgreens in Lowell, Massachusetts, plans to celebrate her team during the month of October, showing her appreciation with gifts like jewelry, personalized mugs, wine, shopping bags, or water bottles.
“As a pharmacy manager, my team, both pharmacists and technicians, is the key to our success! I am only one person and can’t possibly meet the needs of a large and diverse patient population,” she said. "Their daily impact on patient care—from refilling prescriptions to calling doctors or patients [to] helping patients find resources to translating or explaining paperwork for a vaccine—touches far more lives than I could ever do alone.”
Cara Hoyt, PharmD, a pharmacist at Uptown Pharmacy in Westerville, Ohio, tries to celebrate her team all year round, particularly since October is prime time for flu shots. “October is always a busy month for our pharmacy,” she said. “Between doing vaccinations in house and onsite, we don’t get to celebrate every day. But we try to celebrate our fantastic team all year long! We provide meals, ice cream, and other treats during pharmacists month and [throughout] the year. We want to show our staff we care about them [because] we know we need our whole team to provide the best care.”
The Uptown Pharmacy team also works together to provide value to the community through other clinical services such as point-of-care testing for international normalized ratios, diabetes education, compounding, medication synchronization, a community residency program, and research projects.
In addition, Hoyt is advancing the pharmacy practice through the Community Pharmacy Foundation (CPF) by working on a transition-of-care study in partnership with a local emergency department doctor and home health care agency. “We know that pharmacists can add great value as part of the patient care team,” she said. “Pharmacists can help improve outcomes and reduce adverse effects and hospital readmissions.”
Ashley Abode, PharmD, the clinical services coordinator at Realo Drugs in New Bern, North Carolina, says they celebrate their technicians with coffee and treats in October and also year-round. Abode and her team are also hard at work demonstrating the value of pharmacists. For example, her staff provides diabetes education classes and a diabetes prevention program (now held virtually due to COVID-19). “We teach patients about nutrition and physical activity to help prevent diabetes. We have been very successful—about 67% of participants have achieved their weight loss goals,” she said.
Abode has also worked with the CPF on 2 projects, and although the grants are complete, the team is still providing the clinical services. The first project was to demonstrate the value of community pharmacists as part of a care team. To accomplish this, Abode and her team provide offsite medication reviews combined with services offered in the pharmacy, such as adherence packaging. The services have been so successful that referrals are rolling in.
The second project was to show the pharmacy team’s value in home health care. Adobe says that working with home health agencies on medication reviews has been very successful. And the pharmacy team is paid for services. “That is rewarding because providers realize our value,” she said.
Steve “Slava” Malen, PharmD, the pharmacy manager at Crossroads Specialty Pharmacy in Livingston, New Jersey, has something very special planned for the team. “I have the privilege of working at a specialty pharmacy that does compounding and [medication-therapy management]. We aren’t able to do any of these things without our amazing technicians, so we will have a sushi party to celebrate them,” he said.
Steve "Slava" Malen, PharmD
Malen also plans to sit down individually with each technician to gain new perspectives on what they would change within the pharmacy. “They are an important part of the pharmacy and deserve to be a part of the pharmacy’s constant evolution.”
Rannon Ching, PharmD, the pharmacist in charge at Tarrytown Pharmacy in Austin, Texas, plans to celebrate American Pharmacists Month by providing a catered lunch for the staff.
Ching noted that pharmacists are really on the front lines right now and are making a significant impact. In addition to providing glycated hemoglobin and glucose testing services, Ching and his team have also been busy providing COVID-19 diagnostic testing to patients. “It’s a great resource for our community, great for revenue, and we get same-day results, which makes patients happy,” he explained. So far, the pharmacy has tested 1700 patients for COVID-19.
Ching is also working with CPF to demonstrate how pharmacists can help with transitions of care to impact hospital readmission rates. Ching and other pharmacists meet with the patient to counsel on medications and provide the patient with an updated medication list. They also notify the primary care provider of any medication changes. Due to COVID-19, Ching is working on this project remotely but looks forward to returning to in-person consultations as soon as possible.
“Pharmacies and pharmacists are in a great position to leverage their accessibility, knowledge, and great relationships with patients and health care facilities to provide advanced services beyond just filling prescriptions,” he said. “The patients appreciate it and feel much more confident in their understanding of the plan.”