During wards and even in medical school I always heard the phrase the “health-care team”. A team-oriented approach is vital for the patient’s well-being and finding career success in medicine. The paternalistic, sovereign physician working alone into the night is a thing of the past and even looked down upon as collaboration and communication are  encouraged in this day and age. I’ve always been interested in how various perspectives can lead to new ways of seeing old problems. Today I am excited to bring you an interview I had with a pharmacist willing to share suggestions for MS4s about to take the plunge July 1st. Here’s the entire transcript!

O:Hello everyone today I will be interviewing Mohammad Bhatty, retired pharmacist and avid cricket enthusiast. Mr. Bhatty can you tell us a little bit about your history as a practicing pharmacist?

M: Hello there! I graduated in 1966 and did a Masters of Pharmacy in 1970. From there I worked in industry and have University teaching experience as well. My main experience though was working in retail for over 50 years.

O: Wow half a century of filling out prescriptions and trying to read illegible handwriting, that’s quite an accomplishment. So today I’ll be focusing on questions that can help new doctors entering their residencies in July. Do you have any experience working with fresh residents?

M: Yes. When I was practicing hospital-based pharmacy early in my career I came into contact with new residents. From the top of my head the things they needed the most help with were drug names, brands vs. generics, dosages and drug/drug interactions  I was always very happy to help because that’s how the medical and pharmaceutical professions work, to help one another. Sometimes they would call and other times it we would be us. My initial experience with new residents is that they need a lot of training in drug-drug interactions and correct dosages of drugs. Pharmacists are always very happy to help out with any information. This is one of the requirements of our profession, so my advice to you would be that if you need help call! Remember, as pharmacists we are working alongside you for the benefit of the patient.

O: Thanks for the great advice and I’ll be sure to keep that in mind.  So it’s clear that pharmacists are very open to helping doctors with any medicine-related issues. As a soon to be new resident I wonder, what are some issues that come to mind that you can help out with?

M: We’re the drug specialists! Any information you can think of, whether it be drug dosages, drug/drug interaction, etc. Give us a call!

O: With so much information being available at the tip of our fingers with smartphones and Ipads, what is the biggest advantage of receiving it over the phone through you?

M: First of all I want to say that it is an excellent idea to have a good working relationship with your pharmacy. Through the years we will be there to help you out any way we can and also cover your back should you need it [spoiler alert you will]. We act as a filter between you and the patient giving feedback on things that sometimes you may not have the time to look up. We know how to break down and communicate the information overload you’ll find online in a way that is accessible and usable.  Most importantly we know the issues that arise on a day to day basis because we’ve been doing this so long. Overall I’d encourage all new residents to look up answers themselves but incase they need reassurance to call their pharmacist.

O: O.K let’s talk about some things that I may not want to hear but know will help be down the line. What are some of the biggest mistakes you see new residents making?

M: Three things come to mind.

1. Missing information on the prescription (date, age of the patient, quantity of drug, etc.)

2. Wrong dosages and drug/drug interactions

3. Insurance coverage

The big problem with leaving the prescription incomplete is that we can’t fill it out! As pharmacists we are not allowed to change the drug names and many times it takes hours to trace it back to the physician that wrote it! Let’s say you write a prescription, hours later we get it but you miss something. We then call the hospital only to hear that you’ve left! The new resident on shift hears about the changes he/she has to make and is reluctant or apprehensive because they don’t know the case that well. This happens all the time!

So how does this story end? The patient either misses the dose or doesn’t come back at all.

Lastly, pay attention to the legal requirements of writing prescriptions (things like name/age/address/gender/DEA #). You’re bound to see them eventually, they are needed for the pharmacist to dispense the medicine.

Oh wait, one more thing. You should be aware if the drug you are writing is covered by the insurance of the patient! Otherwise expect another call from us.

O: Thanks for all the warnings, I’ll make sure to look out for them during intern year. Anything else you’d like to add?

M: Nope. My advice is to have a good relationship with the pharmacist and communicate whenever you need assistance. Good luck!

O: Thank you for your time!

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