Perhaps, I shouldn't think this way. As a pharmacist, I should be ready and willing to help the public with all of their healthcare issues. However, some of the questions I get are ones that I wouldn't be able to answer any better than the person asking. Yesterday provided me with 2 examples of these types of questions...
1) A women called on the phone to tell me that her 9 year old daughter fractured her pinky finger. Great. I thought maybe she'd ask me how much ibuprofen she could give her or some other medication related question. Instead she asked, "The doctor told me to buddy-tape her pinky to her ring finger, but it still hurts her when she moves it. What can I use to hold her finger in place and keep her from moving it?"
Now I've never broken my finger before. I've never cared for anyone with a broken finger. Moreover, in pharmacy school, they never taught us how to splint broken fingers. Any advice I could give her would simply be my best guess, which I'm not really entirely sure is any better than her best guess. After confirming with her that her daughter has a follow-up appointment to see a doctor in the not-too-distant future, I told her that she could probably tape the finger to a popsicle stick or a tongue depressor. Either that or she could just heavily tape around the joint so she's unable to move the finger.
A popsicle stick?!? That was my advice. I had no freaking clue.
2) A man brought me 2 boxes of non-stick gauze pads and asked me if either one of them would be OK to put over someone's eye (kind of like an eye patch). Again, homemade eye patches weren't covered in my pharmacy school curriculum, nor did I ever have the need to make a homemade eye patch for myself or anyone else. I stood there dumbfounded looking at the 2 boxes, and all I could muster up was to shrug my shoulders and say, "They'd probably work, but I really have no idea." Once again, his guess was as good as mine in this situation.
It's not that I don't like getting asked questions. I just don't see how I'd be expected to know the answer better than anyone else simply because I'm a pharmacist. Now, if someone asked me what's a good athletic brace to use for someone with a sprained ankle, I could tell you everything there is to know about ankle braces (and sprained ankles in general). However, that has nothing to do with me being a pharmacist. Instead, it's simply because I've sprained each ankle at least a dozen times. Therefore, by now I'm an expert on ankle sprains. Of course, my expertise would be the same if I happened to be a janitor instead of a pharmacist.
I guess I should be happy that people think so highly of pharmacists that they'll come to them with any medical issue they have. I'm just not qualified to help with some of them though, and while I'd love to go out in the aisle and help them make an educated guess, I worry about giving someone the wrong information. Therefore, if I do help, I'll usually preface it with, "this is beyond me area of expertise..." or "I'm just guessing here..." That way, they'll know to take whatever advice I give them with a grain of salt.
There was one time when a teenage girl in one of the aisles right in front of the pharmacy suddenly had a seizure and fell to the floor. The parents, nervous of course, came running to the pharmacy for help. Once again, I've never had a seizure. I don't know anyone with a seizure disorder. Luckily however, one of my techs' father had a long history of seizures, so she ran out into the aisle and kind of took control of the situation. The only thing I could do was make sure someone called 911.
In this case, I could have told them how to pharmacologically treat a seizure, but it's not like I could run out there and give her some valium (and considering we only have tablets and oral solution in stock, it probably wouldn't have been much good anyway). My tech had lots of experience in what to do while waiting for the ambulance to arrive, so she was the pharmacy's "expert" in this situation, and once again, it had nothing to do with her working in a pharmacy.
I suppose just about the only emergency situation I could respond to and actually be of some help would be if someone was having a heart attack in the store. This was actually covered in pharmacy school. I know the questions to ask. I know that it's generally a good idea to give someone a 325mg aspirin. If the person was someone who suffered from angina and had nitroglycerin tablets, I could instruct them to take the NTG and help determine whether the pain is simply angina or a possible heart attack.
Ugh... I'm rambling now. In any case, the point was that I get frustrated when people ask me healthcare questions that were not covered at any point in my pharmacy school curriculum. Most of the time, I don't have any better idea than the person asking the question, but I look like I should simply because I wear the white coat.