Whether you are a nurse practitioner student or a nurse practitioner with fifteen years of experience I have a suggestion for you: become friends with a pharmacist.  It is not difficult and will be incredibly beneficial to you as a healthcare provider.

I use the drug database Micromedex on a daily basis, but sometimes I need further information.  I have a patient with a UTI on coumadin and allergic to several antibiotics.  I get back urine culture results and both antibiotics that would work with this particular type of infection interact with coumadin (as does every drug known to man…).  Which is the best choice?  Try getting your drug database to figure this one out for you.  What do I do?  Pick up the phone and call the pharmacist.  

I am fortunate to work in a hospital system with a pharmacist on staff 24/7 so I have access to pharmacy help at all hours.  Very convenient.  However, I was also able to acquire pharmacy help prior to my hospital employment.  I worked at a clinic located close to my home so whenever I went to pick up my monthly prescription, the pharmacist would recognize my name and we would chat.  She was very friendly.  So, whenever I had a drug related question at work, I would dial up the local Publix pharmacy and ask her my question.  

I have never asked, and no pharmacist has ever admitted this to me, but pharmacists must get bored.  Can you imagine being in the middle of a grocery store or a Walgreens all day?  I really don’t think they mind hearing from you and getting your questions (just don’t call 5 minutes before closing).  Pharmacists are also smart- they are familiar with rare drug interactions and know specifically how all the medications we prescribe work within the body (they also have access to amazing computer systems that can search for any and all drug information)- use them and their resources.  It will help you avoid making medication errors.  

How do you find a go-to pharmacist?  Do you like your personal pharmacist?  Ask them if it would be OK for you to call once and a while if you need assistance.  Are there particular pharmacists you find helpful or especially polite when they contact you regarding prescriptions you have written?  Call them when you have questions.  Taking caution with you prescribing will help you avoid unnecessary medical errors and drug interactions.  

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