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Cultivating increased awareness in our pharmacy practice

a man standing in a room
Hugh Toner says pharmacists play an important role in patients' mental health

As pharmacists I believe we are so fortunate to be able to share in the journey to help improve the lives and health of our patients.  Today I’d like to take a look into considering bringing a greater sense of awareness to our one-on-one moments with patients. 

While counselling patients, consider becoming more and more aware of what might be really happening with patients under the surface. As we all know, stress plays a huge role in our lives at times and can be a significant contributor to temporary illness and can be indicators in our lives that sometimes shows up to tell us that perhaps we need to make some changes if we’d like our conditions to improve. The more we as professionals begin to see and understand this, the more we can help patients get onto a road of wellness quicker. As we grow and continue to learn and evolve as professionals it is important to stay teachable. Remember we don’t know what we don’t know. We all have a role to play from the help that comes from other professionals, to the medication prescribed to treat whatever conditions a patient may be facing from time to time, and of course self-awareness from the patients themselves.

The mind is a powerful thing and how we think and react to situations can affect our physical and emotional health. From time to time body conditions or emotional issues manifest into our lives as an indication of what we have been thinking and creating in our lives.  We all have more control and influence over our health than most of us realize. 

Consider this. When we are conceived, we go through many stages of growth and development over nine months until we are born into this world. When you think about it, who supervised this whole amazing process? How is it that every piece of us showed up in the right place at exactly the right time. For example, consider the complexity of your eyeball, the cones, musculature, connection to the brain and on and on. Ten fingers, 10 toes, all the systems that work together so closely…you get the point, it’s truly miraculous! 

When you think about it, the body has always known what to do. You began as two single cells and grew to an estimated 50 trillion cells! This all happened without your conscious input. The body knows how to survive and how to be healthy and thrive. Oftentimes, illness shows up when we put undue stress on our system and we’ve fallen out of balance. Thank goodness for emergency medicine and tools that we can use to help us get back on track. As pharmacists, we are in a perfect position in our role to connect with patients and to help them explore areas in their life that may have gone awry and that could use a new perspective and a new point of view.

Tip: When we are counselling on a new medication, consider stepping back to begin to see how we can help our patients see a broader view.

Tip: Think about beginning to explore what they may have been doing or thinking that has brought about or contributed to this illness or injury. We can continue to grow as a helpful guide as we create a new awareness on how to live more happy, healthy, successful lives.

As a pharmacist, I find myself to be extremely privileged to be in a position where I am able to journey with individuals to a place of better health. For most of us, nothing is more important than our health. For without that important piece, life can be very challenging indeed. All the money in the world cannot replace good mental and physical well-being and so the journey to prevent illness and, more importantly improve on our current health, is worth the effort. With focus the opportunity is there for us to get better and better, whatever that means to each of us on our own personal journey to wellness.  


Hugh Toner BSc.Phm. is the owner of two Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy operations in the Sydney, Nova Scotia area.



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