We chose this profession to help improve the lives of our patients. Unfortunately, this means our own needs sometimes go unaddressed, leaving us tired, stressed and burnt out.
Pharmacists need to remember that self-care is as important as helping others. Our pharmacies have remained open since the beginning of the pandemic – as have our the practices of our allies and partners in health-care – and we may now be bearing many physical and mental stresses in the pursuit of delivering the best care for our patients.
We need to take care of our mental health and wellness in order to continue providing the quality care that patients have been receiving. As we look towards to the upcoming flu and anticipated COVID-19 booster campaigns, it is more important than ever that we invest in our wellbeing.
Though we are moving forward to opening and resuming our pre-pandemic normal, the increased responsibility that pharmacists have assumed during the pandemic is here to stay.
From delivering more than a million flu vaccines this past flu season, to administering more than 300,000 COVID-19 vaccines in community pharmacy, pharmacists have shown time and time again how we can step up and spring into action during a crisis. More than ever, we have demonstrated the value of British Columbia’s community pharmacists, hospital pharmacists and pharmacy students.
Managing drug shortages, prescription renewal and adaptations, influenza and COVID-19 vaccines will be continued expectations of our profession, and understandably, there is now less time in the pharmacist’s day and with that, fewer opportunities to engage patients in chronic disease management.
There is growing evidence that routine care, including for chronic disease management, has suffered. Patients diagnosed with a chronic disease prior to the pandemic have put their care on hold. Recent data shows that screening and diagnoses rates have been lower and that there is a backlog of “potential” new patients who will need future treatment for these chronic conditions.
Patients have also made changes in how they seek care. A return to normal for them doesn’t mean that they will return to past behaviours. Patients are becoming increasing comfortable receiving care through virtual platforms, which have become great options for patients who have disabilities, mobility issues, or no access to a prescriber. We are seeing increased use of digital platforms for ordering and renewing prescriptions as well as purchases of OTC and other necessities via e-Commerce sites.
As we reopen our communities, pharmacists will need to remain adaptable. We must find a way to find a balance between virtual and good-ole in person care. I truly believe and am confident that the pharmacists of the future will have the tools needed to accomplish this.
I had the honour of address the 2021 graduating class and again would like to say, congratulations.
Graduating from university is challenging at the best of times, but you are now entering into the professional world during a time that we have never experienced before.
Remember why you chose this profession. Remember the power you have to help save lives. But also remember to take care of yourselves, and remember to take care of each other.
I encourage you to continue to be curious, to continue to be open to new ideas and to continue to seek to understand the “why.” We all want to see our profession move forward. With your optimism, determination and commitment, we will.
BC Pharmacy Association