You help educate your patients every day in your community pharmacy. As patients try to analyze scientific information they have heard on the news, social media, or by word of mouth, you’re there to help them know what’s correct and what’s not. You know the importance of following the news on health and science discoveries. If you don’t keep up, you won’t be prepared for questions you will likely be asked.
When talking with your patients, remember that you are a pharmacist. You’re used to speaking medical jargon. Your customers don’t understand a lot of that jargon, if any. So, when asked about information they heard through the grapevine, remember to keep your words simple. Here are a few tips:
Keep it short
People can lose interest in what you’re saying even when you’re using simple language. Keep your message to three important ideas, and keep information and instructions to a minimum. Use shorter words and sentences.
Patients will remember more of what you say if you’re specific with the information you communicate. Instead of saying, “People take this medicine once every 12 hours,” you can say “You should take this medication once at 8 a.m. and once at 8 p.m.”
Summarize the message you want to get across. Repeat the most important parts of your message so that it sticks in their minds.
Patients will be more likely to listen to you and follow your advice if you’re genuine and friendly. Some people won’t want to take their medication. But if you can gain their trust, they’ll be more likely to adhere to a medication regimen that will benefit them.
Do you want to become a more effective scientific communicator? Here are some additional tips to follow that are sure to help get the information across to your patients without crossing the line:
Find out what is concerning your patient
Ask your patients what questions they have, whether it’s about an immunization they’re afraid to get or a medication they’re hesitant to take. Don’t assume. Ask. Convey yourself as a trustworthy source. To be successful at explaining scientific information, you need to be someone your patient trusts. Because each patient has a different background and level of health literacy, you have to truly understand their view to see where they are coming from.
Validate patient concerns and address misinformation
Validate your patient’s concern, and ask permission to give them information. Your patients really want to feel heard by you. Give them your time and really listen. And once you have permission, you can give them the information you know they need to hear. Match the information you’re giving them with the concern they have. Be ready to field any questions about research you aren’t aware of and be upfront with them by letting them know how hard it is to know which studies are valid and peer-reviewed.
If you’re busy, offer to call the patient later
When your pharmacy is busy and the line is growing, don’t be afraid to ask your patient if you can call them back once the busy-ness subsides. Let your patient know that once it’s slower, you’ll have more time to talk.
When you prepare ahead of time for questions that your patients are likely to ask, you’ll feel ready for the conversations ahead. Your patients need your guidance on what scientific information is legit and what’s not. Knowing that you’re on top of the latest science and health research, they’ll feel confident in you as their pharmacist for years to come.
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