Here's the scenario:
A customer comes to the counter to pick up a prescription and has a question about the medication. However, not knowing enough to ask for a pharmacist, this customer simply asks the technician or clerk ringing up the sale. The question could be as simple as "Do I take this with food?" or it could be something as complex as "What herbal supplements should I avoid while taking this medication?"
The technician comes back and repeats the customer's question to the pharmacist. Now, here's the question I pose:
As a pharmacist, do you:
A) Finish what you are immediately doing, and then step up to the counter face to face with the customer to answer the question,
B) Give the answer to the technician for them to relay to the customer for you.
For all of you who chose A, pat yourself on the back for having a shred of common sense. Of course A is the correct answer. However, you'd be amazed at how many pharmacists choose option B when actually presented with this situation.
I believe that under no circumstances is it ever OK to have a technician relay your answer to a patient's question. For one, it makes it seem like you are too busy to answer the question yourself and discourages patients from asking questions in the future. Secondly, the technician may not repeat your answer 100% correctly because he or she does not have the same medication knowledge base as you. Thirdly, even if the technician does relay the answer correctly, and the patient understands that answer, the technician is not capable (nor legally allowed) of answering any follow-up questions. Therefore, the whole cycle of the technician running back and forth to relay questions and answers from patient and pharmacist starts all over again.
I know we're all really busy. I know that we're stressed out and feel like the slightest interruption will set us back another dozen prescriptions. However, I think it's imperative to go up and answer any questions face to face with the customer. It shows you care. It shows that you don't think of them as just a customer. Moreover, it causes them to respect you more as a pharmacist and view you as a health care professional instead of a pill counter. Once you have their respect, they'll be less likely to get angry at you if it takes a little longer than 20 minutes to fill their prescription. They'll be less likely to blame you when their doctor hasn't OK'd their refill request yet. In short, the patients' respect makes your job just a little less stressful and maybe a bit more rewarding.
Isn't that what we all hope for?