Advancing the Role of the Community Pharmacist
Published on 19 September 2019
From mentoring students to educating patients and families, the role of a community pharmacist is expansive and constantly evolving, and Roxane Took, Pharm.D., BCACP, assistant professor of pharmacy practice and ambulatory shared faculty pharmacist at Schnuck Markets in St. Louis, is passionate about expanding understanding of community pharmacy and the opportunities it can offer for both future pharmacists and patients.
My mom often encouraged me to pursue a career in health care, and one of the jobs she’d mentioned was that of a pharmacist. In an effort to learn more about the profession, I asked a pharmacist I went to church with if I would be possible to shadow her at her pharmacy. While I was there, I remember thinking how cool her job was and that I’d love to do something similar. I got a job as a pharmacy technician in my last year of high school. It was my first experience with a large chain pharmacy, and it gave me the chance to learn about all of the different medications, work with pharmacists and begin building my own relationships with patients.
These experiences really solidified my desire to pursue pharmacy as a career. Once I saw firsthand the opportunity that community pharmacy offered to build relationships with patients, I was hooked. I love knowing that the patient I’m seeing today will be a patient for months, or even years, to come.
What type of pharmacist are you?
I am an ambulatory care pharmacist, meaning I work in a non-hospital setting with patients who have common disease states such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
My job is focused on patient education. I work with patients to review their medication regimens to ensure their medications are working properly and aren’t causing adverse drug reactions. I also identify any physical, financial and/or educational barriers to care among patients that may prevent them from getting the care they need. In addition, I analyze any patient needs for vaccines and make sure those needs are being met.
What do you love most about your job?
I spend half of my time as an ambulatory shared faculty pharmacist at Schnucks and the other half educating students as a faculty member at the College.
I love working in a grocery store community setting because I get to see my patients often, so I have lots of opportunities to talk to them, not only about their medications, but also about their diet and exercise. I also love getting to sit down with patients and provide one-on-one care through medication reviews, vaccine education and health screenings. It’s so rewarding to see how I’m positively impacting patients’ lives.
I’m also fortunate to be able to work with pharmacy students at my practice site. Those days are always fun because they allow me to utilize my roles as a faculty member and a community pharmacist to help students learn in a real-world setting.
What advice would you give to a student entering pharmacy school?
I highly encourage students to gain exposure in the community pharmacy setting as soon as possible. There are many opportunities to shadow or work in the pharmacy one or two days a week, and these experiences are so beneficial because they can really help advance students’ knowledge.
For students whose interests lie in community pharmacy, I also can’t stress enough the benefits of doing a community-based pharmacy residency. These programs provide students with so much invaluable real-world experience counseling patients, working in the clinic setting and performing health screenings and vaccinations, as well as important exposure to the business side of community pharmacy.
Now that I’m a faculty member, I’m committed to educating students about residency programs through my work as a mentor for a residency preparation series on campus, which helps students learn how to create a list of the residencies they’re interested in pursuing, how to apply for a residency and how to prepare for interviews.
What do you believe is the biggest misconception about the field of pharmacy?
I think that there is a common misconception that all pharmacists work at a large pharmacy chain filling and checking prescriptions. But, there are so many different types of community pharmacists in so many different settings such as transitions of care, specialty pharmacy, ambulatory care, medication therapy management and more. As a community pharmacist who is also a pharmacy faculty member responsible for educating future pharmacists, I feel like I can play a big role in helping to dispel some of the misconceptions that exist so that students, and the general public, can better understand the work we do and its impact.
Through residency, students gain unique experience as a member of an interprofessional health care team that will open doors to new career paths and opportunities. Learn more about postgraduate residency programs at the College at stlcop.edu/residency.