Surprising things your pharmacist can advise on

Jun 14, 2020
Here are just some of the things your pharmacist can do for you. Source: Getty.

If you’re like most people, you probably only visit the chemist to pick up a script and the odd packet of cough lollies or painkillers. But as it turns out, pharmacists are trained to do a lot more than just refill your scripts. They can also give advice on medication side effects, common ailments and a whole lot more, without the cost of a doctor’s visit.

“The great thing about local community pharmacies is that whenever the pharmacy is open there will always be a trained professional pharmacist on duty to assist with advice on medication and minor ailments,” Greg Turnbull from the Pharmacy Guild of Australia says. “Our motto around here is ‘Ask your pharmacist’ because there’s so much more that they can do than most people know.”

And now that some medications have moved behind the counter in recent months, it’s a good opportunity to actually have a chat with your pharmacist when you’re asking for your regular purchases. For example, now that Panadol Osteo is behind the counter, arthritis sufferers could take the opportunity to talk to a pharmacist about their treatment plan. The change got us thinking — what else can your pharmacist help with?

Advice on medicines

As qualified health professionals, pharmacists can give advice and supply non-prescription medicine according to your symptoms. They can also explain your medications to you: for example, what the medication you have been prescribed means, how it works, how to take it and possible side effects. They may also be able to deliver medicines or supplies, for a small fee.


Some trained pharmacists can administer vaccinations against the flu, whooping cough and more. For more information on vaccinations you can get at a pharmacy in your state, visit the Pharmacy Guild of Australia website.

Health checks

Turns out, you can get your blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar tests (for diabetes) at a pharmacy. A pharmacist can also perform a lung function and hearing check. Bowel cancer screening kits are also available from many pharmacies across the country.

Advice on wound care

Pharmacists can help you manage minor wounds like cuts, grazes, sunburns and minor burns, and offer advice on how to treat and care for them. They can show you how to apply dressings and compression garments. If it’s serious, though, a trip to the doctor’s office or emergency room may be best.

Sleep apnoea support

Suffer from sleep apnoea? Pharmacists provide advice, information and products to help you treat sleep apnoea. They may also be able to identify whether you’re at risk of the common sleep disorder.

Expired or unwanted medication

Did you know that you shouldn’t just put expired medication in the bin? If you’ve got any expired or unwanted medication lying around at home, your local pharmacist may be able to help. Under the Return Unwanted Medicines (RUM) scheme, they’ll collect and dispose of them for you free of charge.

Medical certificate

Yep, that’s right, you don’t have to book an appointment with your GP to get a medical certificate for work. Most pharmacists can issue medical certificates for an absence from work — just be sure to call ahead! All you need to bring is some identification and any medications you’ve been taking.

Health equipment and mobility aids

Most pharmacies sell or hire out health equipment or mobility aids like wheelchairs, crutches, walking sticks, monitors and sleep apnoea machines. Each pharmacy is different, so your local store may not have everything on this list.

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How many of these services are you taking advantage of?

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