Highlighting the important role independent community pharmacists play in our national healthcare system.
Pharmacist: Michelle L. Crouse, PharmD
Pharmacy name: Hunter's Pharmacy, Inc.
City, State: Lake Village, Arkansas
Pharmacist's years of service: 17
What led you to a career in independent community pharmacy?
I have known from the time that I entered pharmacy school that I wanted to become my own boss. I always thought that I would enjoy owning a store and serving the patients of a community. I didn't care where my pharmacy would be, I just wanted it to be my own. And I owe my thanks to my parents and my uncle, who was a pharmacist, for influencing me to strive to work hard to become a pharmacist. After graduation, it did not happen immediately, but eventually, I got to where I wanted to be. I have had many influences and previous pharmacy experiences that led to independent ownership, but thankful for where it has led me.
What makes your pharmacy standout from the competition?
We offer diverse services for our area. There are not many choices for our patients to choose from, but we want to satisfy the healthcare needs of our patients in any perspective. Our pharmacy offers diabetes self-management education and training, compounding, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, pharmaceutical-grade nutritional supplements, immunizations, patient consultations, diabetic testing supplies, long term care, delivery, and a large gift department. With the vast amount of services available and more, we try to accommodate the needs of our patients however possible. In these ways, I think we are able to benefit our patients and our community in all the ways we possibly can.
What are your biggest challenges?
From an owner's perspective: it is employee management and cash flow.
Pharmacist's perspective: Continually navigating third party payers.
Consultant's perspective: changing people's food habits due to our culture of our food consumption. Changing people's beliefs that the power to heal is not always within a pill, that supplements can benefit a patient's life, and that people's health can be influenced by what they eat. So if they eat right, they can begin to feel healthy again.
Describe a recent, rewarding experience with a patient:
I had a recent patient that knew he did not eat right, did not take his medications for his diabetes correctly, and really was not concerned with his medications, and did not want to ever have to go to insulin therapy. At a recent visit to his PCP, his A1C was 9.5 and the physician told him that he must go to insulin therapy, so he told the physician that he had heard about what we do and wanted to try it, so the physician gave him 12 weeks to get it improved. So we sat down and visited and we talked through his diet and medications, found out that the was consuming four bologna sandwiches on whole wheat bread for lunch, and was drinking 4-5 diet cokes per day. He thought he was trying to eat right. So I prompted him to cut out all the diet sweeteners, all wheat, all dairy, and he started a protein shake supplementation, as well as adding vegetables and fruit, and told him to check in with me once a week. He could tell that he was improving but could tell that his blood glucose would spike when he ate popcorn, so I told him that it was a simple carbohydrate and was spiking his sugar drastically. After our consultation, he continued to improve, so I consulted the physician and asked to discontinue one oral diabetes medication, and I wanted to start him on a fish oil supplement. He was on a fixed budget, so I wanted to get him on Lovaza, a prescription that would be covered by his insurance, and it would help with his cholesterol and his diabetes through enhancement of the cellular transport mechanisms of the cell wall. I stopped his Avandia, and started him on metformin. He is a mechanic, so he was constantly complaining of pain in his joints, but with the fish oil supplement, he has reported that his pain is gone and he sleeps much more comfortably. He just went back for a follow up visit and labs, and over this 16 week period from the change of his diet and counseling to his follow up visit, I am excited to report that his A1C is a 5.9!!
The biggest thing I want to emphasize is to address what foods and dietary nutrition goes in your mouth and health outcomes will be impacted. Across the board, we don't value nutrition near as much as we should.
How has NCPA helped your business?
NCPA continually works to benefit my business by working on Capitol Hill to get issues addressed that impact me on a daily basis, as well as they continually provide the beneficial resources that I can use to benefit my business.
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