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Pharmacists are trained health professionals who are medication experts. Learn about the role they play in the health-care team.

Key points

  • A pharmacist confirms that your child is taking the appropriate type and dose of medication, adjusts medications as your child's condition changes, teaches you about your child's medications and helps you and your child follow a medication schedule.
  • You can meet with your pharmacist if you have questions about your child's medications.

A pharmacist is a medication expert who is trained in university and must pass a national licensing exam before they can practise.

Pharmacists who work in a hospital have usually completed extra training in a hospital environment and often specialize in one area of medicine.

How is the hospital pharmacist involved in your child's treatment?

Pharmacists work closely with the rest of your child's health-care team to make sure your child receives the most appropriate medications. Pharmacists take part in patient and family-centered discussions (also known as "rounds") about your child's medication needs and responses.

The pharmacist has a number of specific roles within your child's health-care team.

Confirming medications

The pharmacist:

  • makes sure that the health-care team knows what medications your child takes at home so your child can continue taking them while in hospital, if recommended
  • confirms that your child is receiving the appropriate type of medication and in the most suitable form (for example tablet or liquid)
  • confirms that the medication dose is correct
  • checks if your child has any allergies
  • makes sure that a medication is not likely to cause problems or interact with other medications that your child is taking
  • monitors your child's ongoing response to a medication
  • adjusts the medication type and dose based on any changes to your child's medical condition

Providing information and education

The pharmacist teaches you about your child's medications during your child's stay in hospital. They may also provide education in the outpatient clinic by explaining:

  • why your child's medications were prescribed
  • how to give the medications at home
  • what side effects to anticipate with different medications
  • how to store medications
  • which foods and activities your child should avoid while taking different medications
  • what to do if you forget to give your child a dose of medication.

The pharmacist can also answer any questions from you or a health-care team member about your child's medications.

Helping you give medications at the right time

The pharmacist can prepare a table called a "medication calendar" to help you and your child keep track of when to take each medication at home.

What is the difference between a pharmacist and a pharmacy technician?

A pharmacy technician supports a pharmacist by:

  • preparing medications based on the pharmacist's instructions
  • delivering these medications to the patient ward.

When will you meet the hospital pharmacist?

You may meet the pharmacist during rounds or when the pharmacist comes to speak with you about your child's medications. You may also meet the pharmacist during an outpatient clinic appointment. If you want to speak with a pharmacist at any time, ask your nurse or doctor to arrange a meeting.

Last updated: August 5th 2014