Working as a pharmacist isn’t easy. Depending on which pharmacy career path you choose to pursue, there are a variety of challenges you’ll face each day.
In a recent article published by the American Pharmacists Association’s Pharmacy Today titled “Little adults? Big kids? Caring for adolescents and teens,” they discussed a topic of particular interest to community pharmacists, hospital pharmacists, and others—the unique challenge of caring for teens.
What Makes Caring for Teens So Challenging?
Even for the most experienced pharmacists, caring for teens can be complicated for several reasons.
1. Avoiding confidentiality issues
When working as a pharmacist who assists teens, it’s important to consider the confidentiality issues you may face.
For example, it’s not uncommon for parents or guardians to inquire about which medications their teen is taking. But, is this information you can legally share with them?
As a pharmacist, you need to use your knowledge of the situation, the relationship, and of HIPAA regulations to determine what the best decision is in each unique situation.
2. Walking the line between parent and child
Teenagers and adolescents aren’t usually considered to be the most responsible and organized age groups. So, when it comes to caring for these populations in a pharmacy setting, it’s important to find a balance between when it’s important to share medical information with parents and when we can share information directly with teens instead.
When working with a particularly responsible or independent teen, you may be able to share important information with the teen directly. While, on the other hand, with teens who are less involved with their healthcare, you may need to share important health and medication information directly with parents.
One way to navigate this challenge is by spending some time to get to know the patients that you’re working with—especially if you deal with them frequently. Forming an ongoing relationship with your patients will help you to make better decisions in these situations.
3. Handling awkward conversations with grace
Adolescence can be a difficult time for children. It’s common for teens to have new experiences during this time, and these new experiences can cause anxiety and sometimes result in the introduction of drugs and alcohol.
As a pharmacist, it’s your job to educate teens on medications and practices that can keep them healthy during this time in their lives. And, while conversations about mental health, birth control, drugs, and alcohol can be awkward, they’re very important.
So, put the uncomfortable feelings aside, and take the time to chat with adolescents to inform them of their options. And, don’t be afraid to ask a hovering parent to give you a bit of private time to chat with their child one-on-one.
After all, these actions will help teens to become more involved in their own health and wellness as they move into their adult years.
4. Determining proper dosages
As pharmacists, we’re trained to properly dose medications for children based on their weight. But, as children grow into their adolescent years, these typical practices get a bit fuzzy.
Each teen is different. Some 13-year-old children might weigh more than average, while some 18-year-old adults may be much smaller than is typical. Given this information, it’s important to consider each individual patient when determining whether to dose their medications as adults or children.
It’s true that working with adolescents and teens presents a variety of unique challenges to pharmacists—especially those working as community pharmacists, hospital pharmacists, and in other similar pharmacy careers. But, it’s also important to remember how the hard work, thoughtfulness, and care of a pharmacist positively impacts this population during what is often a very challenging and confusing time in their lives.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again—pharmacists make a difference in people’s lives every day. Caring for teens during their difficult adolescent years is just one of many ways they do this.
To read the full Pharmacy Today article about how pharmacists care for teens, visit their website >>