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Is there an area of pharmacy where you help people decrease or stop taking prescriptions by making lifestyle changes?

I am a HUGE advocate for individual healthy lifestyle management rather than fixing problems with a #pill. My #dream is to help people become their own health advocates. I want to teach people lifestyle modifications including #nutrition, #physical activity, and managing medications. I believe certain #prescriptions are over-prescribed and some maintenance medications can be avoided with lifestyle changes. I know it sounds backwards to be a pharmacist reducing medications, but that is my passion especially working in a pharmacy for almost 3 years not and seeing the effects in our society today. #lifestyle #management #health #healthadvocate #publichealth #pharmacy #pharmacist #society #rx #medication #health care #medications #medicine

Hello Shayna! I have a Masters in Pharmaceutical Sciences and I am currently trying to find a career path. I have to say that your questions are exactly what is coming to my mind, I have precisely the same goals! I believe in a healthy management of food/medication and I would love to help people in that sense. I want to combine my knowledge in pharmaceuticals with my passion for nutrition and help people making lifestyle changes before they utilize medication. Could I please ask you if you have any update on this? I can see this question is from 2018. How are you doing on your quest? :) Cheers and have a lovely day, Catarina Catarina L.

Catarina, I'm currently in my 2nd year of pharmacy school and still searching for this possibility. I work in community and hospital settings currently. I haven't encountered a pharmacist that gets to do what I want to do with my career. Ambulatory pharmacy is the closest thing to the direction I want, but they do not get reimbursed for extra services and are still dictated by doctors orders in a sense. Hopefully the future of pharmacy will lead us to the career we dream of having! Thanks for commenting! Shayna S.

Hi Shayna! Thanks for your reply :) I also had a similar experience during college. During my final years there, I was even told by a professor that if I had so much interest in Nutrition, to just enroll on a Nutrition degree... I have been a bit lost since. I also experienced this same situation you describe during my first job at a community pharmacy; furthermore, this pharmacy actually had a Nutritionist coming in to give paid consultations once a week, so I felt there was really no room for me to advise people with the knowledge I had back then. Maybe in the future there will be more emphasis on a more holistic/integrated approach to health. I will keep you posted if I find anything! Good luck for your degree. Thanks and regards, Catarina :) Catarina L.

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Kim’s Answer


I love your question!

I think without a medical credential it's possible to get in trouble for "practicing medicine without a license," and would encourage you to research that aspect of things.

There are many different aspects of healthy living. My mom wants a pill for everything, yet, she won't do a few basic stretches that I know would cure her aches and pains! I just came through knee surgery with almost no pain meds afterwards - Ice is awesome! (and free!) Fresh air is also a good cure. Everyone feels good while hiking!

People who have opened my eyes to alternative approaches include a nutritionist, chiropractor, physical therapist, and doctor (rheumatologist). Accupuncture and tai chi also talk about it. These are areas you might want to explore.

It's sad to see people throwing away so much money on Rx meds, especially when they have limited financial resources. Big Pharma is a big business. That is why they advertise so much, so we can go to the doctor and tell the doctor what we need! Reversing that will be a big challenge. I hope you keep trying !


Thank you for sharing and for the great advice Kim! Shayna S.

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Mary’s Answer

Yes, clinical pharmacists do this all the time in the hospital (acute care). In the outpatient setting, look into ambulatory care pharmacists who also do this. Ambulatory care is very similar to what you are looking for. As the pharmacist, you sit down with the patient for 30 minutes to an hour and discuss medication and lifestyle modifications. Depending on where you live, it can be very competitive to get a job as a clinical pharmacist (in the acute care or outpatient setting). If you want to go this route, I would suggest completing a pharmacy residency (PGY1) after graduating pharmacy school. In the meantime, you can even work as a technician in a hospital and see if they hire "medication reconciliation" technicians. Their role is to see what a patient is prescribed versus what they're actually taking. They work with the pharmacist and/or medical team to deescalate (or discontinue) duplicate/unnecessary medications.

Wow! I didn't even know about either of these positions. I will definitely look into these specialties and maybe think about doing a residency! Thank you Mary!! Shayna S.

No problem Shayna, feel free to ask me any other questions! Good luck! Mary Young

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Krista’s Answer

Love your question and I'm on your side but I think you have a better chance as a personal coach then in a pharmacy. Who knows, maybe one day doctors will consult food experts for the cure instead of subscribing medicine. Why don't you make this your mission :-)

Krista, Thanks for your advice! I am definitely at a cross roads. I love learning and sharing knowledge of food, nutrition, and healthy lifestyle, but I also love the science behind pharmaceuticals. I think medications can be important but also overused. I want to be the mediator between the two if that makes sense. Thanks again for your insight! -Shayna Shayna S.

Follow your dream! You're on a life changing path where lots of people can benefit from. Just because it isn't there now doesn't mean it won't be in the future. Omega 3, dark chocolate, magnesium, turmeric, etc. are vital for good health. Spread the word, maybe online, maybe in a local library, start small and who knows where it will take you. All the best!! Krista van Kaathoven

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Debbie Yoro’s Answer

I work with a pharmacist in a primary care clinic. The pharmacist is always looking for ways to decrease our patients medications (more meds doesn't equate to better care). She also meets with patients for 30 - 60 minutes to discuss lifestyle changes including nutrition and exercise. She bills the insurance for her services too. Primary care is a good place for pharmacists to use all of their skills to help patients with health and well being.

I was told (not sure from who), "there's a medicine cabinet in our own bodies, we may as well make use of it". The "Food as medicine" concept has also become part of the primary care conversations. I like this question, thanks for asking it.

Debbie Yoro recommends the following next steps:

Take classes in motivational interviewing and get experience talking to people with chronic conditions or new diagnosis.
If you are interested in this type of position, look into working at a large medical system (they usually have more funds to cover this position) rather than a small independent practice.

Hi Debbie! Thanks for sharing. Sounds like that job is up my alley. I like hearing that there is people practicing my dream career already. I love the quote you shared. I agree 100% and I think that way of thinking should be implemented in todays health care. I really appreciate you taking the answer! THANK YOU :) Shayna S.

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K’s Answer

You are not backwards in your thinking at all! Consider pursuing training in Functional Medicine - this area will be right up your alley. Food sensitivities, medication sensitivities and tailored approach to care are all hallmarks. Good Luck!

K, I have never looked into functional medicine, but I will definitely do some research. Thank you for taking the time to comment! Shayna S.