President's Message: Public adoption of minor ailment assessments shows trust in pharmacists

Updated on August 9, 2023 (Originally posted on August 4, 2023) The Tablet

We all knew B.C. patients would gladly embrace pharmacists being able to prescribe for minor ailments and contraception when we began offering this service on June 1. However, I’m not sure how many of us would have expected how much British Columbians demanded these services. 

Since June 1, B.C. pharmacists have provided, on average, more than 1,000 assessments a day for minor ailments or contraception. On the first day we offered our service, one of our pharmacies in Squamish had 10 patients come in after 7 p.m. asking for this service since clinics were closed in the area.

As I write this column, it’s been two months since we’ve offered this service, and I continue to hear stories from colleagues across the province about how appreciative patients are that we can now provide minor ailments and contraception services (MACS).

Besides supporting pharmacists with training and resource materials in partnership with the Ministry, the College and UBC, the Association also backed pharmacists with one important piece of support: A broad public education campaign.

The BCPhA began a robust public education campaign focused on letting patients know what types of services pharmacists can offer through traditional advertising like television, radio, and local newspapers. And because we’re all on social media, our campaign has leaned heavily on Facebook and Instagram, and more than 1 million people in British Columbia have viewed our advertisements so far. You’re likely one of them!

This social media campaign will continue through the summer and into the fall prior to the fall flu and COVID booster season. Our goal was to ensure that pharmacy teams could focus on their patients and tasks at hand rather than answering common questions — or worse, confusion — from the general public about MACS. Instead, pharmacists could continue to offer the service we’ve all been asking to deliver for years. 

For the past three years we’ve seen the tremendous trust both patients and the government of B.C. has placed in us as professionals. They know that when a job needs to be done, we step up and get it done. 

So take a moment to savour all that we’ve accomplished and be proud of being a B.C. community pharmacist. 

Chris Chiew
BC Pharmacy Association

This article is featured in The Tablet. The Tablet features pharmacy and industry news, profiles on B.C. pharmacists, information on research developments and new products.