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'Patient counselling' by pharmacists is a diverse and ill-defined activity. It is also an activity which is achieving more prominence as part of the 'extended role' which is seen as the way forward for the profession. Patient counseling is a key competency element of the Pharmaceutical Care process. Given the advertising for medication in the media and easy access to information on the Web, it is important for pharmacists to provide appropriate, understandable and relevant information to patients about their medication. The pharmacist is in a highly visible and readily available position to answer patient concerns and enquiries about their medications and alternate treatments they may read about or hear from others.
Counseling is a way of relating and responding to another person so that he/she is helped to explore his thoughts, feelings and behavior to reach a clear self-understanding. Also, the person is helped to find and use his/her strengths to be able to cope more effectively with making appropriate decisions, or taking appropriate action. It as an integrative process between a client, who is vulnerable and who needs assistance, and a counsellor who is trained and educated to give this assistance. The goal of the interaction is to help the client learn to deal more effectively with him/herself and the reality of his environment.
Patient counseling is not an activity which can in itself generate some revenue. This activity is being proposed as an additional service to be rendered by a clinical pharmacist so as to enhance the success levels of healthcare. At present this activity may be taken up by pharmacy trained professionals who are working in medical shops or hospitals. They can do it only after taking the necessary training and after attaining the necessary knowledge.
Patient counseling, as the name implies, is simply advising the patient. It consists of a pharmacist advising a patient on how medicines are to be taken and how side effects, if they appear, are to be managed. Most important part of the entire exercise is that the pharmacist gives unbiased and authentic information in a most professional manner, with warmth and understanding.