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September 2016, Vol 4, No 9 - The First Word
Donald J. Dietz, RPh, MS

Since 2004, the American Pharmacists Association has designated October as American Pharmacists Month. This awareness month provides opportunities to promote the pharmacy profession, and to acknowledge the involvement of pharmacy personnel in supporting positive health outcomes and improving patient care.

Here are 10 creative ways that community pharmacists can support American Pharmacists Month in their personal and professional lives:

1. Social media
Using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms, spread the message about American Pharmacists Month to nonpharmacy friends and colleagues. You might even consider sharing a pertinent pharmacy or vaccination article in your posts to educate followers about a new topic.

2. Pharmacy tours
Provide scheduled tours of over-the-counter aisles, or consider providing special nutrition tours if you work in a supermarket setting. Over-the-counter aisle tours may be catered to specific groups. For example, consider hosting an over-the-counter tour that discusses all of the medications that patients should pack when traveling. Another example is to hold a tour focused on medications used to treat common ailments in children (eg, low-grade fevers, sunburn, bug bites).

3. Outreach to children
Building good relationships with healthcare professionals is important for children so that these positive relationships continue into adolescence and adulthood. Consider providing balloons or pharmacist-themed coloring books, which can be found on the Internet, to children visiting your practice. Providing Mr. Yuk stickers may also be an excellent way for pharmacists to communicate and interact with children.

4. Outreach to elderly persons
Plan a visit to a local senior citizen center and speak about pharmacy-related topics. If resources are available, consider providing a brown bag review of medications for people who are interested. Elderly people truly appreciate the time you take to help them understand their medication needs.

5. National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day
Saturday, October 22, is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. Learn about law enforcement agency−guarded collection sites in your area, and help spread the word about them to your pharmacy patients. When counseling patients, you should suggest that they remove medications from their home when prescriptions for them are discontinued, or when they are no longer needed.

6. Flu shots
American Pharmacists Month conveniently aligns with the peak of flu shot season, a time during which pharmacists may have more face-to-face time with their patients. Use this extra time to connect with your patients, and to ask them if they have any questions about their medications. When time permits, consider providing patients with an informational handout about their medications to facilitate an engaging discussion.

7. National Pharmacy Technician Day
October is about more than just educating patients about all of the services that pharmacists can provide. Tuesday, October 18, is National Pharmacy Technician Day. Make an extra effort to thank your technicians for all of the hard work they do to make the pharmacy run smoothly, assist in nonclinical activities, and provide invaluable customer service.

8. Legislative visits
Invite a local political representative to tour your pharmacy and discuss relevant pharmacy issues with them. If chain pharmacy policies or security concerns are an issue, consider scheduling an appointment to meet with your legislators at their offices instead. State pharmacy associations can usually provide pharmacists with information about pertinent legislative issues as well as provider tips and pointers for meetings with political representatives.

9. Pharmacy school initiatives
Open your doors to surrounding pharmacy schools and consider providing mentoring or internship opportunities. If no pharmacy schools are nearby, you may also approach local high schools about job shadowing experiences. October is also an excellent time to attend an alumni event sponsored by your alma mater.

10. Advertising online and in-house
One of the easiest ways to participate in American Pharmacists Month is to post an announcement on your pharmacy website for the month of October. For chain pharmacists with no access to their store’s website, consider having flyers or chalkboard advertisements in the pharmacy to create awareness.

National Pharmacists Month is an ideal time to acquaint people with all of the services available at their local pharmacy. It also creates opportunities to speak with government officials about pertinent legislative issues, and to thank your pharmacy staff for their hard work throughout the year. Whether you do something as simple as sharing a Facebook post about pharmacists or engage in a more elaborate activity, please consider participating in and promoting National Pharmacists Month this October.

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