7 Things Your Pharmacist Can Do Instead of Your Family Doctor That Will Surprise You!

Are you tired of having to wait forever to see your family doctor for every little thing? I know I was, which is why I went on a search to find out what, exactly, a pharmacist is able to do. I was surprised by some of the things that I found, and it turns out that a visit to your pharmacist could save you from having to take time off of work to visit your family doctor. 

1) Prescription Renewal

`As of December 11th, 2020 pharmacists are now able to renew a patient’s medication for up to 1 year. This service has made life much easier for those who know that it exists! If you are on regular medications for an ongoing condition and you know that your medications are running low, instead of making that doctor’s appointment, visit your local pharmacist instead and ask if they are able to renew it for you. Sure, you’ll still need to visit your family doctor once per year, but you still need your annual check-up, right?

2) Administering Vaccines and Immunizations

Pharmacists are fully trained and able to administer vaccines and immunizations to individuals 2 years of age and older. These include regular childhood immunizations, travel vaccines, flu shots, and covid-19 vaccines. 

Children under the age of 2 still need to visit their family doctor to be immunized, but everyone else can take advantage of this service. Call your local pharmacy today to book your appointment and make sure you keep up to date with your immunizations.

3) Medication Compounding Services

Certain pharmacists, like the ones at Riverbend Pharmacy in London ON, are trained to be able to compound medications specifically for you. What does that mean? Well, let’s say that you are allergic to gluten and the medication that your doctor prescribed contains gluten, the pharmacists at Riverbend can compound (mix) a medication specifically for you that contains the same actual medicine, but no gluten! They can also add flavour to medications to make them easier to give to a baby or a pet. Yes, they compound medications for pets, too. 

Here’s another scenario: Your elderly mother has trouble swallowing pills these days and she has pills that she needs to take every day. You are confused and anxious because you know that she has to take her medicine, but you don’t know how to help. It’s upsetting watching her gag while she tries to get them down. 

If you come to a compounding pharmacy like Riverbend, they can change your mother’s pills into a liquid form so that she can take the medication that she needs without the struggle and stress.

4) Counselling Services

A registered pharmacist in Ontario knows more about drugs than your regular family doctor does. It is their job to know all about:

  • What your medications are supposed to do
  • What side effects are possible 
  • Which drug interactions to be aware of
  • Foods or drinks that you should avoid while taking the medication
  • What your ideal dose is depending on height and weight
  • So much more…

Everyone should speak with their pharmacist and educate themselves about the medications that they are taking. It is important to ensure that our diet and habits aren’t making our medications less effective, or worse, dangerous!

There are a number of ways that your pharmacist can counsel you and make sure that you are getting the most from your medication. 

New prescription conference:

The most common way is to have a mini-conference with your pharmacist whenever you are prescribed a new medication. This is very common practice and chances are you’ve had one of these conferences before. 

The pharmacist will go over any important information about your new medication including when to take it and warn you of any possible side effects and drug interactions. For most of us who are only on 1 or 2 medications at a time, this is enough, but for those taking 3 or more prescribed medications, it can be tough to remember all of the do’s and don’ts.


That’s where MedsCheck comes in. MedsCheck is a service provided by all pharmacies where a person who has a chronic illness and is taking 3 or more prescription drugs is eligible for a yearly consultation with the pharmacist. 

This consultation includes a review of all the medications you are currently taking and also any non-prescription drugs or vitamins that you are on. The pharmacist will take you to a separate and private space where you can go over each medication and discuss how to properly take them, what to avoid when taking them (drug interactions), side effects etc… and can answer all of your questions. 

This is a great time to voice concerns about how the medication is making you feel if you are having trouble remembering to take it etc…

Make sure to take notes so that you can remember what was said and ensure to get the most from your medication.

5) Change your prescription dose

If you are having issues with your medications you should always tell your pharmacist. In Ontario, a pharmacist can change the dose of your prescription or how often you take it, if needed so that you get the treatment that you need to feel your best. Your pharmacist may decide to change your dose for the following reasons:

  • To help manage or reduce side effects
  • To avoid interactions with other medications that you are taking
  • To adjust for weight gain/loss

Remember that pharmacists are drug experts, and you can feel confident and safe trusting them to help you handle your medications. As mentioned above, they can change the form of your medication, too if needed.

6) Prescribe medications to quit smoking

If you or someone you know wants to quit smoking but is having trouble doing it on their own, they don’t need a visit to the doctor to get help. Pharmacists in Ontario are able to prescribe medications to help individuals quit smoking. 

If you live in London, ON come visit Riverbend Pharmacy and speak with one of our professional and trusted pharmacists. They will speak with you about your situation in a confidential setting and tailor a program specifically for you. Quitting smoking is possible, and it is within your reach!

7) Help manage pregnancy symptoms

Pregnancy should be a time to radiate with happiness, not gag at the sight of… well, everything! When you aren’t feeling so hot the last thing you want to do is make another appointment and have to go back to the doctor again just to find relief. 

Pharmacists can help you manage your pregnancy symptoms including nausea in ways that are completely safe for you and your baby. Speak to your local pharmacist to find out more details on treatment options and tips for feeling your best while pregnant.

Whenever you are thinking of taking a vitamin, mineral or another drug while pregnant, be sure to ask your pharmacist if it is safe. They will also go over any medications prescribed to you during your pregnancy to ensure that they are safe for you and for your baby.

What’s in the works for the future?

Imagine being able to visit your local pharmacy and get prescription allergy relief instead of having to suffer while you wait for your family doctor to become available? Or, getting antibiotics and pain relief fast when you get a painful UTI? 

There is a draft pending approval from the government right now that would allow pharmacists to prescribe medication for certain common illnesses including:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
  • Insect bites

For more information on this and for the complete list of “minor ailments” included under this draft, visit the Ontario College of Pharmacists

Should this draft be approved, it will have a very positive impact on our healthcare system in Ontario. Not only will it free up our doctors to deal with more complex and/or important issues in a timely fashion, but it will allow us (the patients) to get medical attention more quickly for simple things. I will certainly keep an ear out and let you know if and when it gets approved.

The takeaway from this post is that pharmacists in Ontario are drug experts that are very useful medical professionals. They can help you and your loved ones manage many aspects of your health care and well-being, and they know more about drugs than your family doctor does. Lean on them in times of need, and make sure to utilize all of the wonderful services that they offer instead of having to take time off of work and make appointments with your family doctor.

Until next time, keep safe, keep healthy and enjoy the coming of spring!

Nathalie Jolivet

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