Look, before I get into this post let me tell you this: I am not the easiest empowered patient to live with or get along with. I believe that’s because I really care about my health care and am not afraid to speak up. Doctors, nurses, nursing assistants, physician assistants and pharmacists do not intimidate me. So I tend to stand up to their comments and make my own so, at some point, we can all work together.

When I first met with my first of many pharmacists he made it known that he did not agree with the empowered patient movement and made it clear to me I would be better off changing pharmacies right now. Wow, never expected that kind of retort. So Patti and I went looking for another pharmacy. Next was a female pharmacist who started out great. She listened and helped me understand drug interactions. Then, after a few months she changed her demeanor and all our progress went to, well you know what.

The next team of pharmacists, who I still work with, were great. Remember all of this happened over the course of a couple of years when I was first starting out. I finally found the right team and things started to work better for everyone.

Part of this work included my pharmacists, Patti and I sitting down just like I did with my Doctor and discussing our involvement with them in deciding on the course of drugs and how they should be administered if and when a doctor made a mistake. Trust me doctors do make mistakes due to so many drugs being combined and too many chefs stirring the soup. That soup being me.

Do not let anyone, especially your doctor, tell you to never listen to your pharmacist. That is far from the truth. My team of pharmacists, more than once, have saved me with issues from my meds. One time I almost went into a coma due to the prescription being too strong for me at that time. If it wasn’t for the pharmacist and Patti bringing it to their attention I probably wouldn’t be here now.

So a short guide to dealing with your pharmacist as an empowered patient is as follows:

10 Tips for Finding and Working with a Good Pharmacist

  1. Be honest up front. Let them know what you expect and what you will do in return.
  2. Let them know you trust them and want their help with your meds.
  3. Don’t let them talk down to you. Respect each other and I promise things will work out.
  4. If #3 doesn’t work find a new pharmacist and pharmacy.
  5. Don’t ever give in if you aren’t happy. Be happy with your decision and your pharmacist.
  6. If you can’t be happy in #5, find someone new.
  7. Do not ever be intimated by a pharmacist. Remember we all put our clothes on the same way and do other things the same.
  8. Tell the pharmacist when your drugs don’t seem to be working along with your doctor. Do your own research, then speak up.
  9. Don’t let them shush you! This is a major rule that can’t be broken.
  10. In the event #9 happened refer to #4 above and #6: find a new pharmacist and start at #1.

Being an empowered patient is not always easy but it is rewarding when you realize how you have possibly saved your life. Again, remember being an empowered patient is also great when you have support like I do from Patti, my wife, as well as the doctors and everyone else on an empowered medical team. It’s important that everyone works together. You can even be the one in control and orchestrate it, ┬áif that’s what you want. I tend to work with my doctor’s office staff all the time and keep them in good graces and, in turn, I get so much from them.

Remember, never be timid! Speak up and speak your mind. You don’t have to be rude but you do have to be adamant.


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Mark-John Clifford

Owner/Writer at Health in the Laugh Lane
Health activist, speaker, writer, husband and father. Co-Founder of the blog Health in the Laugh Lane, Member Patient Advisory Board at Intake.me.
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