Prescription: Joy in Treating Whiteman

U.S. Air Force Capt. Jessica Shalita, 509th Medical Support Squadron pharmacist, counts controlled medications at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., June 18, 2014.  This procedure is done to ensure to ensure both the prescription count and remaining stock are accurate. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry/Released)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Jessica Shalita, 509th Medical Support Squadron pharmacist, counts controlled medications at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., June 18, 2014. This procedure is done to ensure to ensure both the prescription count and remaining stock are accurate. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry/Released)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Rachel Casey, 509th Medical Support Squadron pharmacist, weighs medication at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., June 18, 2014. This process is used to obtain an accurate pill count and integrate technology into daily operations to streamline the filling process. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry/Released)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Rachel Casey, 509th Medical Support Squadron pharmacist, weighs medication at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., June 18, 2014. This process is used to obtain an accurate pill count and integrate technology into daily operations to streamline the filling process. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry/Released)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kerstanoff, 509th Medical Support Squadron pharmacy technician, processes a patient’s order at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., June 18, 2014.  This procedure is done to ensure each patient receives his/her prescribed medications. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry/Released)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kerstanoff, 509th Medical Support Squadron pharmacy technician, processes a patient’s order at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., June 18, 2014. This procedure is done to ensure each patient receives his/her prescribed medications. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Nickolas James, 509th Medical Support Squadron pharmacy technician, caps medication at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., June 18, 2014. The childproof safety lids prevent children from gaining access to the medication. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Nickolas James, 509th Medical Support Squadron pharmacy technician, caps medication at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., June 18, 2014. The childproof safety lids prevent children from gaining access to the medication. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry/Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- The 509th Medical Support Squadron Pharmacy Element works behind the scenes to provide cures to fight against many common ailments and keep the base populous in good health.

The Pharmacy element processes 125,000 prescriptions per year for active duty members, dependents, and retirees.

Pharmacy technicians counsel patients on what their medications are used for, how to take them and what type of medications can be used in conjunction with them.

"Our technicians have to know what medications we carry, what they are used for and what the trade names are," said Master Sgt. Jason Christianson, 509th Medical Support Squadron NCOIC, diagnostics & therapeutics flight. "While they are taking in those prescriptions, they have to look at the patients profile, know what medications can be taken with other medications, and the interactions between them."

Technicians also have to know what the standard dosing is on a wide variety of medications. They must know over 300 different medications, to include interactions, uses and typical dosage. When the fillers receive the prescriptions, they take a second look at them to make sure that all quantities match up with the directions. If it's a written prescription, they have to match it up with what is typed onto the labels. They have to know what it is for or what type of resources to use in order to find out the information.

The pharmacy element on Whiteman Air Force Base stocks approximately 900 different medications. The Pharmacy staff deals with 300 medications more often than the others. These "fast movers" include drugs such as Nexium, Lipitor and allergy medicines.

"Ordering technicians manage $4 million worth of medications a year at Whiteman Air Force Base, ensuring the medications are reasonably priced and we are within budget," said Maj. Rachel Casey, 509th Medical Support Squadron pharmacy element chief. "I oversee the process and review it every month to verify everything is done correctly."

The pharmacy element has a quality control role in the PRP process to make sure it is done correctly as well.

After a quality control check is completed on PRP, prescriptions for those active duty members are processed the same as other prescriptions. They are typed if they arrive from off base or activated if they are seen on base. The prescriptions are accurately filled with the correct medicine and are reviewed by at least three sets of eyes on every prescription. One staff member types and prints, one fills the prescription and a final person verifies that the order was filled with the correct medication and is appropriate for each patient.

Pharmacists and technicians must always be cautious when dealing with patient prescriptions.

"One thing that we must consider as pharmacists is that we hold people's health care in our hands," Casey said. "We have a responsibility to do everything we can to get patients the medicine their doctor has prescribed for them. We must be careful not to put a person's health in jeopardy by giving them the wrong medication. Attention to detail and timeliness are critical in this career field."

The pharmacy element takes pride in ensuring patients' needs have been met to the highest standard.

"This job never gets boring," Casey said. "There's always something new every day; I absolutely love assisting patients, answering questions, and taking care of their needs. It's very satisfying to say the least."