It goes without saying that pharmacists have a lot of responsibility—and they’re well-prepared for it. After all, they are required to attend several years of specialized schooling and most receive their master’s or doctoral degrees.

And while we all know they’re responsible for relaying information about drugs and side effects, it’s easy to admit that we don’t always know exactly what they do besides dispense our prescriptions.

As it turns out, there’s quite a bit that goes on behind the scenes in a pharmacy. These next 12 facts just might change everything you know about the people you rely on for your medicine!

1. Pharmacists can save your life in situations where another doctor’s carelessness could kill you. What you may think is slow service might actually be your pharmacist working hard to clarify errors with the information that your doctor provided.


2. They also need to work fast. Pharmacists are only given around 15 minutes to catch any errors in your prescription and handle your needs.

3. On top of that, doctors are notorious for their poor handwriting; figuring out a prescription is like cracking a code.


4. In an effort to keep orders moving quickly, pharmacists often don’t get lunch breaks.


5. Many pharmacy chains impose quotas on flu shots, because doing so gets them reimbursed by Medicare.


6. Pharmacists hate dirty prescriptions, so please try to keep them clean and neat without spilling things like food or blood on them!

6-pharmacy-secretsmburger64/Wikimedia Commons

7. Electronic prescriptions aren’t much better than paper prescriptions just because they’re more legible. They’re still just as prone to errors—especially because some doctors don’t understand the technology—and pharmacists can be overwhelmed with the number of emails they get.

7-pharmacy-secretsYoel Ben-Avraham/Flickr

8. You should always read the pamphlets that come with your prescriptions, but don’t let them scare you. If you see a frightening side effect listed, it may mean that less than 1% of people got it.

8-pharmacy-secretsMikael Häggström/Wikimedia Commons

9. Every once in a while, a pill will drop on the floor. These “adulterated drugs” aren’t supposed to go back in the bottle, but not all pharmacists or pharmacy technicians are so good about this.

9-pharmacy-secretsGlobal Panorama/Flickr

10. Pharmacies often take note of your behavior, especially if people are acting suspiciously or angrily. You can get yourself banned from the pharmacy if you’re not careful!

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11. Many pharmacists hate feeling like they’re in a fast food restaurant with the way retail pharmacies work, so they leave to work in hospitals.


12. Pharmacists don’t necessarily need prescriptions to help you out—at least, not a prescription pad. Technically, they have to honor anything that your doctor writes, even if it’s just on a napkin. They might call to verify, though.

12-pharmacy-secretsNevit Dilmen/Wikimedia Commons

Hopefully this gives you a new appreciation for what pharmacists do and how hard they work. So the next time you visit the pharmacy, try to be a little more patient!

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