Just what the doctor ordered

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo., - Staff Sgt. Vera Pickering, 509th Medical Group pharmacy technician, fills a patient's prescription by hand during a power-outage here Jan. 20, 2010. Hand-writing a prescription is part of the pharmacy's back-up contingency plan, if their computers become unavailable, in order to keep their mission going uninterrupted. The Whiteman Pharmacy fills 350-700 prescriptions daily. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jessica Mae Snow) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Staff Sgt. Vera Pickering, 509th Medical Group pharmacy technician, fills a patient's prescription by hand during a power outage, Jan. 20, 2010. Hand-writing a prescription is part of the pharmacy's backup contingency plan -- if their computers become unavailable, in order to keep their mission going uninterrupted. The Whiteman Pharmacy fills 350 to 700 prescriptions daily. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jessica Mae Snow)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo., - Master Sgt. Knicole Akins, 509th Medical Group NCO in charge of pharmacy services, empties a bottle of soon-to-be expired medication into its designated container at the Whiteman Clinic Jan. 20, 2010.  Pharmacy technicians sort through all medication regularly, separating any medication that is within three months of expiring, ensuring it is not dispensed to a patient. The medication is later picked up and properly disposed of off-site. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jessica Mae Snow) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Master Sgt. Knicole Akins, 509th Medical Group NCO in charge of pharmacy services, empties a bottle of soon-to-be expired medication into its designated container at the Whiteman Clinic, Jan. 20, 2010. Pharmacy technicians sort through all medication regularly, separating any medication that is within three months of expiring, ensuring it is not dispensed to a patient. The medication is later picked up and properly disposed of off-site. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jessica Mae Snow)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. - Master Sgt. Knicole Akins, 509th Medical Group NCO in charge of pharmacy services, reviews a customer's prescription one last time before it goes out the help window, Jan. 15, 2010. Sergeant Atkins also reviews dosage and special instructions with the customer and answers any questions they may have about their prescription. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Carlin Leslie) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Master Sgt. Knicole Akins, 509th Medical Group NCO in charge of pharmacy services, reviews a customer's prescription one last time before it goes out the help window, Jan. 15, 2010. Sergeant Atkins also reviews dosage and special instructions with the customer and answers any questions they may have about their prescription. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Carlin Leslie)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. - Ernie Carpenter, 509th Medical Group civilian pharmacy technician, reviews filled prescriptions to ensure the correct amount of medicine is given and double checks the information on the bottle, Jan. 15, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Carlin Leslie) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Ernie Carpenter, 509th Medical Group civilian pharmacy technician, reviews filled prescriptions to ensure the correct amount of medicine is given and double checks the information on the bottle, Jan. 15, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Carlin Leslie)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -Bottle caps wait to find their bottle and arrive in the hands of ailing customers.(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Carlin Leslie) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -Bottle caps wait to find their bottle and arrive in the hands of customers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Carlin Leslie)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo -- Trips to the pharmacy usually coincide with sickness or injury, and often times, don't conjure warm feelings for those seeking medication. But on the other side of the window, things are different.

"People think we just count pills and hand them out, but we do so much more," said Capt. Audrey Ameigh, 509th Medical Group officer-in-charge of pharmacy operations.

"We counsel patients, and make sure they know how to properly use their medications. We don't just hand them drugs and send them out the door."

Helping people heal is what Captain Ameigh adores about her job.

"The most rewarding aspect of the job, for me, is the interaction with the patients," said Captain Ameigh. "We are here to keep our Airmen and their families healthy, so they can focus on their mission."

Master Sgt. Knicole Akins, 509th MDG NCO in charge of pharmacy services, who earned distinction as ACC Pharmacy NCO of the Year in 2009, enjoys the positive effects her job has on her customers.

"I enjoy helping the patients," Sergeant Akins said. "The medications we give them can be life saving, or improve their quality of life."

Customers at the Whiteman Pharmacy include more than active duty military. In fact, the majority of customers aren't in uniform at all.

"Our active duty Airmen aren't on a lot of medications," said Captain Ameigh. "We see mostly retirees and dependants. We have patients that drive 200 miles: they make a whole day of it."

The pharmacy staff offers the following tips for their customers who want to have a streamlined visit:

1. Hours of operation are 7:30 a.m. through 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and the pharmacy is closed on weekends.

2. When seeing a doctor off-base,take along the pharmacy's formulary (a list of medications on hand at Whiteman) so the doctor can choose a medicine readily available on base. The formulary is available at www.whiteman.af.mil, under "other links."

3. Calling in refills helps both the customer and the pharmacy, by eliminating wait times and line congestion.

4. Tuesdays are the pharmacy's busiest days, as many retirees come to the base for meds as well as a trip to the commissary.

While the circumstances that lead to a trip to the pharmacy may not be the best, customers can rest assured that the technicians at Whiteman are dedicated to excellence.

"We are often the last ones to close here at the medical group," said Staff Sgt. Mendez, 509th MDG pharmacy craftsman. "We do the best we can with what we have, day in and day out."