My name is Jeannie Collins Beaudin, and I’m a retired Canadian pharmacist and former owner of a specialty compounding pharmacy. Compounding, by the way, is essentially making medicines from scratch. While all pharmacists do some compounding, I went further with a dedicated lab space and two full-time compounding technicians. The best part of my job was helping my patients. Nothing made my day better than having a client come back and tell me my advice or my specialized compounded medicine had solved their problem!
New avenues in retirement
When I retired in January 2016, I decided to continue to help others by sharing my knowledge through writing. My first project was a book designed to capture what I had learned to make my specialty compounding/hormone analysis practice a success. My book explains, in easy-to-understand language, how hormones work in women’s bodies, what signs and symptoms tell us how they are changing, and what to do to get back to normal. Options include lifestyle changes, natural medicines, compounded natural hormones and prescriptions. I also describe the system I used with hundreds of women with detailed explanation of how to interpret symptoms and ways to communicate effectively with her doctor.
I had gained plenty of writing experience during my career, beginning with health-based articles to promote my second pharmacy in the local monthly community newspaper in the late 90s. I found I enjoyed writing, so when the national pharmacy publication, Drug Store News, was looking for pharmacist authors in 2006, I volunteered. This publication eventually merged with another national pharmacy journal, Pharmacy Practice, and I have been writing articles and blogs for them ever since.
Lifelong learning comes in many forms…
Of course, when I finished my book’s manuscript, I needed to learn what to do next, and I’ve been studying the craft of writing, editing, publishing and promoting writing ever since. It’s a complex, ever-changing area that I will probably continue to learn about for the rest of my life!
One activity, recommended to help promote non-fiction writing, is to start a blog and build an audience of readers who like your writing and are interested in your topics. And sharing your writing with other blogs and newsletters is one of the best ways to increase your blog audience…you help others build interesting content and they help you find readers who are interested in what you have to say. This “Guest Blogging” is what brings me here. Now that I’m retired, I have even more time to read medical sites and newsletters, and once a month or so, I’ll share my thoughts on heath news, opinions and ideas, keeping the women’s health theme in mind.
So, now that you know a little of who I am, I’d like to share some thoughts about collaboration among health professionals. We tend to work in silos, each in our own profession doing our own thing, often only reaching outside our professional group when we have a problem.
But collaboration is about give and take. And the best way to start or improve a relationship is to do something that makes the other person’s job easier while ultimately making life better for a client. I often described myself as the “eyes and ears” of the doctor, gathering information he or she didn’t have time to collect, condensing it for efficiency, and offering suggestions for treatment. In the field of hormone treatment, pharmacists cannot yet prescribe independently, so we need to collaborate with other disciplines. However, I also always included non-prescription recommendations as I believe that the client’s entire team of health professionals should be informed so they can work together to improve her health.
Many of the women I saw had failed or been refused standard treatment. Often, they were challenging cases and the doctor was happy to receive an idea for what to try next. I made an effort to appear to be offering a solution rather than just asking for a prescription, and I always explained the rationale behind my recommendations.
Each group of health professionals has its specialized knowledge; each can provide ideas and solutions; all can help improve the outcome of the patient when we work together. In hospitals, they use multidisciplinary grand rounds to collaborate on difficult cases. We need to find more and better ways to collaborate in the community.
How to start?
One way to begin, is to understand what each profession can contribute to patient care, and I’m happy to see that improved collaboration has become important in health professional’s training. In addition to helping to train pharmacy students, I also spoke to medical and nurse practitioner students about what I did and how we could work together. I even had some students who visited my pharmacy, spending a few hours learning what I did.
Knowing the specialties of other health professionals benefits all. I had a great working relationship with a nurse psychologist who specialized in women’s sexual dysfunction. When she determined a woman’s problem was unlikely to be psychological, she would refer her to me to analyze which hormones could be causing her difficulty. And when I determined a woman’s problem was unlikely to be caused by a hormone imbalance, I knew I was out of my depth and referred her to my colleague with the right specialty.
I collaborated similarly with naturopathic doctors, and we even gave presentations at conferences together. The naturopath spoke about her specialty, natural medicines, and then I would continue the topic, explaining the prescription side of treatment: compounded and commercial hormones.
Start by giving…
The best first step, though, is often offering something of value to another professional. In health care, this is usually information, but increasingly it can also be lightening the workload and saving time for the other colleague.
So, each time you see a client, think about what information you could share to improve your patient’s care or to keep another caregiver in the loop (asking for permission, if necessary, of course). And when you’re talking to another health professional, steer the conversation to how you can collaborate—ways you can make their job easier—whenever you get a chance.
If you’re curious about my book, it’s called Can I Speak to the Hormone Lady? Managing Menopause and Hormone Imbalances. I’m the “Hormone Lady”, by the way…the nickname came from a call I received at my pharmacy one day! My book is available through all major ebook retailers and in print from Amazon.
Jeannie Collins Beaudin is a recently retired Canadian community pharmacist with 40 years of experience, including specialization in compounding pharmacy, and hormone assessment and management. In addition to publishing her book, Can I Speak to the Hormone Lady? Managing Menopause and Hormone Imbalances in 2018, she has written articles and blogs for Pharmacy Practice + Business since 2006, peer reviewed educational programs for Canadian pharmacists since 1998 and publishes a weekly health blog found on her website.
Editor’s Note –The views expressed in the nurse influencer posts are those of the contributing authors. NPWH does not sanction the content of these posts.