October is American Pharmacists Month but a group of Filipino pharmacists is taking the helm in celebrating the occasion by advancing the profession through community involvement in the CNMI.
The Association of Filipino Pharmacists underscores the importance of pharmacists and the vital role they play in the delivery of medicines to consumers and the overall healthcare of the public.
This year’s theme, “Know Your Medicine, Know Your Pharmacist,” stresses “the importance of knowing your medicine and knowing your pharmacists to ensure that drug therapy is as safe and effective as possible,” said association president Rodylyn Bacani.
Bacani emphasized that patients’ involvement in their own healthcare is key and they can do this using a three-step process: taking part in decisions about their treatment, following the treatment plan, and watching out for problems and getting help in solving them.
According to Bacani, pharmacists help patients make informed self-care choices.
“In fact, having a pharmacist involved in patient care can decrease the chance of having problems with medications, including errors, which can cause hospitalization,” she told Saipan Tribune.
Established in June 2009, the Association of Filipino Pharmacists was founded by Jean Cabildo, a U.S.-licensed pharmacist who has worked in PHI Pharmacy for several years. Cabildo invited all Filipino pharmacists to a dinner meeting and that’s where the idea to create an avenue where they can get to know each other and share updates about their profession took root.
“Surprisingly, the group was ripe for something more,” said Bacani, adding that the group’s principle is “Together for Service.”
Bacani said the group exemplifies “willingness to do more than what is intended” by volunteering their time in community events such as the Philippine Consulate General’s quarterly health screening as well as partnership with other health-based organizations such as the Commonwealth Diabetes Coalition to strengthen efforts to monitor the blood sugar level of patients.
The group currently has 18 members from the Commonwealth Health Center, the Tinian Health Center, PHI Pharmacy, and the TakeCare/FHP Pharmacy.
Bacani said members of the Association of Filipino Pharmacists are registered pharmacists in the Philippines, noting that two of them are actually U.S.-licensed while the rest function as pharmacy specialists and technicians in the Commonwealth.
“Pharmacy specialists and technicians are doing a great job in assisting the pharmacist and letting the pharmacist [get] his job done,” she said. “I can say that it would be very hard to get a lot of job done if the specialist or technician is not competent.”
According to Bacani, group members do their best to support each other, serve their patients well, and make sure that they become an asset to their respective companies.
While they strive for better involvement in the CNMI community, Bacani said their commitment to help transcends distance as they also endeavor to do one project a year that would benefit their kababayans in the Philippines such as providing assistance during calamities or the holiday season.
“Our purpose as a group is to be of help by determining a specific need and meet that need as a group,” added Bacani.