Do you know what your pharmacist can do for you?

The role of the pharmacist has evolved in recent years. Here’s what it can do for you and your child.

This text is an initiative of students at the University of Montreal, Faculty of Pharmacy, as part of the Service to the Community course.

The pharmacist is a very approachable medical professional, but few know what he is really doing behind his counter. With the new roles the pharmacist has acquired in recent years, he can do much more than just prepare your medicines. Here is an overview of the benefits of his new roles for you and your child.

Assess the symptoms

It can be difficult to assess the severity of certain symptoms, or even recognize them. In this case, your pharmacist can help you to analyze your situation. Whether for you or your child, he can then recommend various options, such as:

  • consultation with another healthcare professional;
  • a medicine to relieve symptoms;
  • Tips and tricks, such as rest, cold water compresses, etc.

In fact, the pharmacist is a professional able to assess your general condition and that of your child. For example, if your child has diarrhea or vomits, your pharmacist can determine if they are dehydrated. They can then give you advice on how to treat or prevent dehydration in the future.

The pharmacist can also give advice or prescribe a treatment to a pregnant woman who is experiencing nausea, heartburn or constipation. It is important to note that all consultations can be conducted in the private office if you wish to encourage confidentiality.

Prescribing over-the-counter medications

The pharmacist can prescribe any over-the-counter medication to treat common conditions and symptoms such as diaper rash, colds, stuffy nose, lice, etc.

Although no prescription is required to purchase these products, this practice has two main advantages:

  • The pharmacist conducts an assessment before prescribing a drug. This ensures that you receive the optimal treatment and that you have the information you need to take your medication correctly, especially in the case of pregnancy where there are more contraindications. For young children, he can also write a personalized label describing how to administer the medicine. This is particularly useful when the drug is to be administered in the day care center.
  • A prescription may have financial benefits such as: B. Insurance reimbursement if the product is covered.

Prescribe specific prescription drugs

For certain minor complaints, the pharmacist can also prescribe a medicine that has already been prescribed by a doctor within the last five years*. Therefore, it is not always necessary to see the doctor. Here are some situations that may apply to children:

  • severe diaper rash;
  • candidiasis of the skin (fungal infection due to diaper irritation);
  • atopic eczema (very dry skin with red patches), allergic rhinitis and conjunctivitis (seasonal allergies).

Here are other conditions for which the pharmacist could prescribe a drug already prescribed by a doctor: urinary tract infections in women, hemorrhoids, cold sores and menstrual pain.

*Some exceptions apply. Ask your pharmacist.

suggest treatment

Although they can assess your symptoms, your pharmacist cannot make a diagnosis. However, he can offer treatments for certain conditions that do not require a medical diagnosis, such as: B. in the following situations:

  • taking vitamins during pregnancy;
  • oral and hormonal emergency contraception for a period of 6 months;
  • prevention and treatment of nausea and vomiting;
  • heartburn treatment;
  • treatment of allergic contact eczema (e.g. reaction to poison ivy);
  • smoking cessation.

Change or extend a prescription

To ensure your safety and the effectiveness of your treatment, your pharmacist may make certain changes to your or your child’s prescription by:

  • adjustment of dose, frequency of administration or route of administration;
  • complete discontinuation of the drug, if necessary;
  • Replacing a drug during a supply shortage.

If your child cannot swallow a pill prescribed by the doctor, the pharmacist can also provide you with it in liquid form and even add flavoring to mask the taste. He may also change the drug or dose if side effects occur.

Also, the pharmacist can extend prescriptions when there are no more refills if you are unable to get an appointment with your doctor.


Pharmacists are now authorized to vaccinate. You and your children from the age of 2 can get the vaccinations you need for a trip and the flu vaccine in the pharmacies that offer this service. For all other vaccines, the pharmacist is authorized to administer to persons aged 6 and over. This can be useful for a pregnant woman as she is recommended an extra dose of whooping cough vaccine during pregnancy.

In short, the pharmacist can not only give you your medicines, but also analyze your condition, prescribe medicines for certain minor diseases, change or extend a prescription, and even vaccinate. If you have any questions about your health or that of your children, do not hesitate to consult him.


Research and writing: Yousra Arab, Lina Bendaoud, Abigail Cockerton, Nawfel Deraoui, Isabelle Dubuc, Alexie Faucher, Mohamed-Rayane Mouloudi, Karolane St-Pierre, Cynthia Tumusenge, Daniel-Jiajun Yu, first-year PhD students in Pharmacy
Scientific Verification: Alexandre Chadi, pharmacist


Photo: GettyImages/FatCamera

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