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0785 Consulting a Pharmacist

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 785: Consulting a Pharmacist.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 785. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Our website is eslpod.com. Go there and take a look at some of our ESL Podcast special courses in business and daily English, read our ESL Podcast Blog, and, of course, become a member of ESL Podcast and get the Learning Guides for these episodes.

In this dialogue, we go to the pharmacy, or the drugstore, to buy some drugs. Sounds fun. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Pharmacist: Can I help you?

Sanaz: Yes, I had some questions for the pharmacist.

Pharmacist: I’m the pharmacist. How can I help you?

Sanaz: Can I fill these prescriptions here?

Pharmacist: Yes, you can. Just give those to the pharmacy technician and she’ll take care of you.

Sanaz: The reason I ask is that I’m hoping there’s a home remedy for my problems so I don’t have to pay for prescription medication.

Pharmacist: If you’ve already seen a doctor, then I would follow his or her instructions on what to do, including taking these medications.

Sanaz: All right, but I have some other problems.

Pharmacist: Like what?

Sanaz: I have a rash on my arm. See? Is there an over-the-counter medication I can use?

Pharmacist: That doesn’t look too serious. You can find medications for rashes on aisle three. I would recommend a cream made by McQ Pharmaceuticals. Use it for a few days and monitor it to see if it improves. If not, you may want to see your doctor about it.

Sanaz: Okay, thanks. I also have allergies.

Pharmacist: There are several drugstore medications for allergies.

Sanaz: I already take those. What I want to know is if there is something I can do about the headaches I get from the allergies?

Pharmacist: Pain relievers are on aisle four. Let me show you where they are.

Sanaz: Oh, thank you. On the way there, I’ll tell you about my other health problems. I need eye drops for my dry eyes, pills for my insomnia, something for my back pain…

[end of dialogue]

We begin with the pharmacist saying to Sanaz, “Can I help you?” Sanaz says, “Yes, I have some questions for the pharmacist.” The “pharmacist” is the person who is in charge of or runs the pharmacy or drugstore. A pharmacist has to go to school to get a degree, and must have a license in the particular state to be a pharmacist. They are the ones who prepare medicines and make sure that you’re getting the right medicine.

The pharmacist says, “I’m the pharmacist. How can I help you?” Sanaz says, “Can I fill these prescriptions here?” A “prescription” (prescription) is the doctor’s written – usually – permission for you to receive a certain drug. It used to be that in order to get a drug from a pharmacist – a special drug, a drug that required permission – you had to have a written note from the doctor that would give you that permission, and you would take that note to the pharmacy. Now, much of this is done on the computer – electronically, but they still have paper prescriptions. The “prescription” is the piece of paper that has the doctor’s signature on it. Notice that Sanaz uses the verb “fill.” “Filling a prescription” means getting the drug that the prescription says you can have.

The pharmacist says, “Yes, you can,” you can fill these prescriptions here. She says, “Just give those to the pharmacy technician and she’ll take care of you.” The “pharmacy technician” is someone who works for the pharmacist, who is not a pharmacist themselves. They are the people who do the actual taking of the prescription, putting it into the computer, looking for the drug, and so forth. “Technician” here really means assistant.

Sanaz says, “The reason I ask is that I’m hoping there’s a home remedy for my problems so I don’t have to pay for prescription medication.” A “home remedy” (remedy) is when you have some sort of medical problem – you’re sick – and you want to cure your problem, you want to get yourself better not by taking some sort of drug from the pharmacy, but perhaps drinking some kind of tea or taking some other sort of vitamin that might help you; these would all be home remedies. In the United States traditionally if you have a cold we would say the home remedy would be chicken soup. If you eat chicken soup you will feel better. I don’t think it will actually help your cold, but maybe. That’s an example of a home remedy. “Medication” is usually something that is from a pharmacy. It is a “drug” – that’s another word for “medication,” or simply “medicine.” All of those mean the same thing: “medicine,” “medication,” “drug.” Sanaz doesn’t want to pay for the prescription medication, the drugs that the doctor told him to take.

The pharmacist says, “If you’ve already seen a doctor” – notice again the verb, “to see a doctor” means to go to and be examined by and talk to a doctor – “then,” she says, “I would follow his or her instructions on what to do, including taking these medications.” In the United States, the pharmacist isn’t going to change the orders of the doctor, or probably won’t say something to you that would be different than what your doctor would say; that’s not their job.

Sanaz says, “All right, but I have some other problems.” The pharmacist asks, “Like what?” And here, the pharmacist might be able to help you with things that you did not discuss with your doctor, although again, it depends on what you ask him or her. If your problem is that you’re ugly and you want a new face, well, the pharmacist probably can’t help you with that. Well, that’s not exactly what Sanaz is talking about here, although he might be ugly; I don’t know; I’ve never met him.

Sanaz says, “I have some other problems,” and the pharmacist asks, “Like what?” What are they? Sanaz says, “I have a rash on my arm. See?” A “rash” (rash) is a red bump or a bunch of little red bumps on your skin. They often itch; they often give you this sensation that makes you want to scratch them with your fingers, for example. That’s a rash. A rash can be caused by many different things.

Sanaz says, “Is there an over-the-counter medication I can use?” The term “over-the-counter” (counter) refers to drugs that you can buy in the pharmacy without a prescription; you don’t need the doctor’s approval to buy this drug. So if you want aspirin, for example, you don’t need a prescription; you can just go to the pharmacy and buy aspirin. That’s an example of an over-the-counter medication; sometimes you’ll see the initials O.T.C. “O.T.C.” stands for over-the-counter.

The pharmacist says that the rash that Sanaz has doesn’t look too serious. She says, “You can find medications (again, medicine) for rashes on aisle three.” “Aisle” (aisle) is just a section in the store. Most stores put their products, the things they’re selling, on shelves, and you walk in between the shelves up and down to find what you need. Well, those spaces between shelves are called “aisles” – or I guess the whole thing could be called an “aisle.”

In any case, the pharmacist tells Sanaz he can go to aisle number three. She says, “I would recommend a cream made by McQ Pharmaceuticals.” A “cream” here means a lotion; that is, a thick substance that you rub on your skin. Creams can be for lots of different things. Women often put creams on their faces to make them more beautiful. I don’t know; I’m pretty ugly; I don’t think there are any creams I could use. But, Sanaz could get a cream for his rash to help it. The pharmacist recommends getting a cream made by a certain company – a certain pharmaceutical company. The word “pharmaceutical” sounds like “pharmacy” or “pharmacist.” It comes from the same “root,” we would say, the same basic word. It just means a company that makes drugs – that makes medicines. The pharmacist says, “Use it for a few days and monitor it to see if it improves.” “Monitor” here means to observe, to watch. “Monitor” has some other meanings in English, as well. Take a look at our Learning Guide for those.

So, the pharmacist tells Sanaz to monitor his rash, to keep looking at it to see if it gets any better. “If not” she says, “you may want to see your doctor about it.” Sanaz says, “Okay, thanks.” Then he says, “I also have allergies.” “Allergies” (allergies) – the singular is “allergy,” with a “y” at the end – is when your body reacts to certain substances. It could be something in the air, it could be something you eat, it could be something you touch with your skin. I have allergies, for example, which cause my nose to get stuffed up; that is, it gets a certain liquid and then I find it hard to talk. That’s why my voice sometimes sounds a little weird when I record these podcasts, because sometimes I have allergies.

The pharmacist says, “There are several drugstore medications for allergies.” “Drugstore” is just another word for pharmacy. Here, the pharmacist is really saying there are other over-the-counter medications for that. Then Sanaz says, “I already take those. What I want to know is if there is something I can do about the headaches I get from the allergies?” A “headache” is when you have a pain in your head – or wherever your brain is. Some people’s brain is in the opposite part of their body! But, Sanaz has a headache. The pharmacist recommends pain relievers. “Pain relievers” are medicines that – you guessed it – can reduce or relieve your pain so that it doesn’t hurt as much. Aspirin is an example of a pain reliever.

The pharmacist says, “Let me show you where they are.” Sanaz says, “Oh, thank you. On the way there (meaning as we’re walking to that part of the store), I’ll tell you about my other health problems. I need eye drops for my dry eyes, pills for my insomnia, something for my back pain…” and there the dialogue ends. We assume that Sanaz has many other health problems. When you have “dry eyes,” you have eyes that feel itchy, that need some liquid. “Eye drops” is the liquid that you put in your eyes when they’re dry. “Insomnia” (insomnia) is when you can’t fall asleep at night; you’re not able to fall asleep easily. Usually, a “pill” is a small, round thing that you take. Notice again the verb, you “take” a pill; you put it in your mouth and you swallow it. That’s one way of getting medicine into your body, through a pill.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Pharmacist: Can I help you?

Sanaz: Yes, I had some questions for the pharmacist.

Pharmacist: I’m the pharmacist. How can I help you?

Sanaz: Can I fill these prescriptions here?

Pharmacist: Yes, you can. Just give those to the pharmacy technician and she’ll take care of you.

Sanaz: The reason I ask is that I’m hoping there’s a home remedy for my problems so I don’t have to pay for prescription medication.

Pharmacist: If you’ve already seen a doctor, then I would follow his or her instructions on what to do, including taking these medications.

Sanaz: All right, but I have some other problems.

Pharmacist: Like what?

Sanaz: I have a rash on my arm. See? Is there an over-the-counter medication I can use?

Pharmacist: That doesn’t look too serious. You can find medications for rashes on aisle three. I would recommend a cream made by McQ Pharmaceuticals. Use it for a few days and monitor it to see if it improves. If not, you may want to see your doctor about it.

Sanaz: Okay, thanks. I also have allergies.

Pharmacist: There are several drugstore medications for allergies.

Sanaz: I already take those. What I want to know is if there is something I can do about the headaches I get from the allergies?

Pharmacist: Pain relievers are on aisle four. Let me show you where they are.

Sanaz: Oh, thank you. On the way there, I’ll tell you about my other health problems. I need eye drops for my dry eyes, pills for my insomnia, something for my back pain…

[end of dialogue]

The best medicine for improving your English is not a pill, but a dialogue by Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast is written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan, copyright 2012 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
pharmacist – a person whose job is to prepare and give medicines to people who need them

* The pharmacist warned me that nausea is a side effect of taking this medicine.

prescription – a doctor’s written permission for a patient to receive and take a particular kind of medicine

* The doctor said Marcos had an infection, so she wrote a prescription for antibiotics.

pharmacy technician – a person who works in a pharmacy under the supervision of a pharmacist and prepares medicine, packaging the right amount of pills and liquids in containers to be sold

* Pharmacy technicians wear gloves whenever they touch medicine.

home remedy – a treatment (something used to improve a medical condition or health problem) that is prepared by an untrained individual with common ingredients, not by a chemical company

* Many people recommend chicken soup as a home remedy for the common cold.

medication – medicine; drug; a chemical substance used to treat an illness or to make someone feel better

* Take this medication with food twice a day for five days.

rash – an unusual red, dry, bumpy, and/or itchy area on the skin, usually caused by an illness or by coming into contact with something

* It started as a small rash on the baby’s stomach, but it quickly spread to the rest of her body.

over-the-counter – medicine that is sold without a prescription and without needing to see a doctor first

* If the over-the-counter syrups aren’t making you feel better, you should probably schedule an appointment with your doctor.

cream – lotion; a thick substance rubbed onto to the skin until it is absorbed

* Lynn uses a moisturizing cream to keep her hands soft.

pharmaceutical – related to drugs and medicine, or to the companies that make drugs and medicine

* Do you think pharmaceutical companies should be allowed to advertise directly to consumers?

to monitor – to observe or track; to watch how something changes over time

* We’re monitoring sales to see if there are any changes as the result of our new marketing campaign.

allergy – the body’s reaction to some substance that seems to make it sick for no reason

* Why do so many kids have an allergy to peanuts?

drugstore – pharmacy; a store that sells medicine, cards, gifts, toiletries, and other items

* While you’re at the drugstore, could you please buy some bandages and some toilet paper?

headache – an ongoing pain inside one’s head

* Staring at the computer screen for too long gives Jesse a headache.

pain reliever – a medicine that reduces the experience of pain; a medicine that makes someone less uncomfortable

* If you’re taking a pain reliever every day for back pain, it might be time to see a doctor.

eye drop – a liquid medicine put in one’s eyes one drop at a time, usually to reduce redness, dryness, or itchiness

* Is it okay to use these eye drops while I’m wearing contact lenses?

dry eye – the feeling of itchy, irritated eyes that don’t seem to have enough moisture

* Exposure to cigarette smoke gives Samar dry eyes.

pill – a small, hard, round or oval dose of medicine that is swallowed without chewing

* This pill is too big to swallow whole! Can I cut it in half?

insomnia – an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep; difficulty sleeping

* Tamar has insomnia, so she spends a lot of nights reading books.

Comprehension Questions
1. What should Sanaz do with the cream?
a) He should swallow it.
b) He should put it on his skin.
c) He should mix it with water and drink it.

2. What do eye drops do?
a) They help the patient stop crying.
b) They improve the patient’s vision.
c) They help to moisten the patient’s eyes.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
rash

The word “rash,” in this podcast, means an unusual red, dry, bumpy, and/or itchy area on the skin, usually caused by an illness or by coming into contact with something: “The water is so polluted that people who swim in the lake usually get a rash.” The phrase “diaper rash” refers to the red marks that appear on a baby’s skin if it is next to a wet or dirty diaper for too long: “Diaper rash can be prevented by changing the baby’s diaper more often.” The phrase “a rash of (something)” describes many events happening in a short period of time, especially when talking about something bad: “The police are puzzled by the rash of car thefts in the past few weeks.” Finally, the word “rash” describes something that is done too quickly, without thinking carefully about it first: “I wish I hadn’t made such a rash decision to cut off all of my hair.”

monitor

In this podcast, the verb “to monitor” means to observe or track, or to watch how something changes over time: “The scientists are monitoring changes in temperature around the world to understand the effects of global warming.” The verb “to monitor” can also mean to secretly listen to someone else’s phone calls or conversations, almost like spying: “Mara refuses to talk on a cell phone because she thinks her conversations might be monitored.” When talking about technology, a “monitor” is the part of a computer that has a screen: “Craig is saving his money to buy a flat-screen monitor.” Finally, in a classroom, a “monitor” is a child who has been chosen to help the teacher in some particular way: “Jimmy is the hallway monitor this week.”

Culture Note
How to Become a Pharmacist

In the United States, it takes many years of study to become a pharmacist. While still in high school, “aspiring” (wanting to have or do something) pharmacists need to take a lot of classes in the sciences, including biology and chemistry. Then they need to go to college and complete a four-year pharmacy program and then earn a “PharmD,” or a doctorate of pharmacy degree. People who know “early on” (early in their life) that they want to become pharmacists can “earn” (do the work required to receive) a PharmD in as little as six years, but many people actually need to go to school for eight years before they can take all the “requisite” (required; necessary) classes and earn their degree.

After receiving a PharmD, aspiring pharmacists need to become “licensed” (having received official documentation and permission) to “practice” (work as a pharmacist) in the state(s) where they wish to work. Each state has its own licensing requirements. These requirements are a combination of one or more exams and “practical” (hands-on, like an internship) experience. Individuals need to complete an “internship” (an on-the-job learning experience) under the “supervision” (oversight; monitoring) of a licensed pharmacist before they can work by themselves.

Once a pharmacist is hired, he or she must continue to study and “stay on top of” (be aware of and familiar with) new developments in the pharmaceutical industry. Each state “licensing board,” the organization that establishes and “enforces” (makes sure something happens) licensing requirements, has “continuing education” requirements for pharmacists to attend special courses and/or pass additional exams.

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - c