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The role of pharmacists in promoting the humanisation of medicine.

4 April 2024

In an era of increasing dominance of technology and procedures in medicine, it becomes important to recall the human dimension of healthcare. Pharmacists, who are often the first point of contact for many patients in the healthcare system, play a key role in restoring this dimension. Their daily work is not only limited to dispensing medicines, but also involves deep empathy, understanding and effective communication with patients. As experts in medicines and therapies, pharmacists act as the crucial glue between the complex world of medicine and the daily needs of patients. With their interpersonal skills and knowledge, they are able not only to provide expert advice, but also to support patients in understanding and managing their own health


Empathy underpins the humanisation of medicine, playing a key role in pharmacy practice. Empathy in the context of pharmacy is not limited to sympathy; it is actively empathising with the patient, understanding their experiences and emotions and tailoring communication and care to their individual needs.

In pharmacy practice, empathy manifests itself through attentive listening, understanding a patient's health concerns and challenges, and by providing personalised advice and information. A pharmacist who demonstrates empathy is better able to understand how different aspects of a patient's life affect their health and treatment, allowing for a more holistic and effective approach to healthcare.

Empathy in pharmacy also goes beyond individual interactions with patients. It encompasses an understanding of the broader social, cultural and psychological aspects of health, which allows pharmacy services to be better tailored to diverse populations. This enables pharmacists to support patients more effectively in their journey to health, not only through the appropriate use of medicines, but also by building trust and a safe space for patients


Having defined empathy as a key element of the humanisation of medicine in the work of the pharmacist, a natural complement is to focus on communication. Communication in pharmacy is not just about conveying information, but is primarily a two-way process that involves both speaking and listening, enabling the pharmacist to respond effectively to the patient's needs and concerns.

Communication in the context of pharmacy goes beyond the simple exchange of medical information. It is the ability to communicate complex information in a way that is understandable and tailored to the patient's individual level of knowledge. It requires not only deep expertise, but also the ability to translate medical terms into language that is easy for the patient to understand. In this way, pharmacists can more effectively support patients in understanding their condition, treatment plan and possible side effects and drug interactions.

Listening - actively and empathetically - is also an important aspect of communication in pharmacy. This allows the pharmacist to understand a patient's individual needs and concerns, which is essential for delivering personalised care and advice. Through active listening, the pharmacist can also pick up previously undisclosed information that may be crucial to the patient's successful treatment.

Continuous training and skills development is also important in this area. Pharmacists should regularly attend workshops and training on communication in order to continuously improve their ability to give and receive information. This not only enables them to better inform patients, but also to build deeper relationships with them based on trust and mutual understanding.

Challenges and opportunities 

Pharmacists have an extremely important role in the healthcare system, acting as a bridge between patients and the often complex and intricate world of medicine. Their position enables them not only to provide essential medicines, but also to act in an educational, counselling and supportive role in helping patients understand and manage their treatment.

However, despite their pivotal role, pharmacists face a number of challenges in promoting the humanisation of medicine. One of the main problems is the limited time they have to interact with patients. In an environment where efficiency and speed of service are often priorities, it is difficult to find time for deep, empathetic conversations with patients.

Another challenge is the lack of full knowledge of the patient's medical history. Pharmacists often base their decisions and advice only on the information the patient is able to provide, which can lead to an incomplete picture of the patient's condition. This is particularly relevant for patients taking multiple medicines, where the risk of interactions and errors is high.

In addition, pharmacists also have to deal with the increasing complexity of medicines and treatments. Constantly evolving medical knowledge requires them to undergo continuing education, which can be a challenge in combination with their day-to-day professional duties.

Despite these challenges, the role of the pharmacist as a bridge between the patient and the healthcare system is invaluable. By building relationships based on empathy and effective communication, pharmacists can make a significant contribution to the humanisation of medicine, helping patients to better understand and manage their treatment. In order to achieve this, it is important that health systems recognise and support this important role by providing adequate resources and time to build deeper relationships with patients.