Pharmacy Check-in: Meet Esmond Wong
Esmond Wong, RPh, CDE, APA (he/him)
Calgary Foothills Primary Care Network
Esmond Wong is a clinical pharmacist working in the area of diabetes. He has a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from the University of Alberta (2006) and became a Certified Diabetes Educator and gained additional prescribing authorization in 2011. He receives referrals for diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, weight management and insomnia. At his practice he prescribes/adjusts/refills medications and insulin, does foot screening, sends patients for lab work and helps set lifestyle goals with patients. He has written several continuing education articles in the area of diabetes and has a website (www.cdestudycourse.com) that has helped over 1500 health care professionals across Canada become certified diabetes educators. Currently he is taking a diploma in counselling to expand into mental health.
Q&A with Esmond
We caught up with Esmond ahead of Diabetes Awareness Month to chat about pharmacists' role in diabetes care.
What is the #1 thing pharmacists can do to help their patients manage diabetes?
That’s a hard question because I think there are so many things a pharmacist can do to help their patients manage diabetes. I would say checking to see if the patient is experiencing hypoglycemia would be the most impactful thing. Hypoglycemia is uncomfortable for the patient, could lead to an emergency visit, costs the health-care system money. It is something family/friends worry about and that pharmacists can check in a few seconds by asking, “Hello I notice you are on insulin or a sulfonylurea, which can sometimes cause low blood sugars. Have you had symptoms of shakiness, trembling, confusion, etc. lately? Have you noticed any of your blood glucose readings dipping below 4 mmol/L?” If the patient is experiencing hypoglycemia, you can work with them to make medication and lifestyle changes to address the issue.
What role can pharmacists play in supporting patients with diabetes? Why is it important for pharmacists to be involved?
We can fulfill a variety of roles. As I mentioned above, we can check/manage hypoglycemia, check for medication compliance, adjust insulin/medications, encourage patients to make lifestyle changes (especially if you work in a grocery chain, just print out off the Diabetes Canada glycemic index handout and point patients towards lower glycemic foods), remind patients to go for the periodic checks associated with diabetes such as screening of eyes, feet, kidneys and oral health and review how to use capillary blood glucose meters or continuous glucose meters with people.
Why did you choose to become a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)?
I wanted to have a credential that shows I have knowledge in diabetes. This has been helpful for my own confidence and to show physicians that I have knowledge in diabetes when making recommendations.
How does having a CDE at the pharmacy enhance patient outcomes?
I think 1) having the knowledge required to pass the CDE exam results in better recommendations to patients which enhances outcomes and 2) patients feel more confident in your recommendations and therefore are more likely to follow your recommendations when they hear that you are a CDE.
What makes you proud to be a pharmacist?
There was a lot of talk about pharmacists being replaced by robots in the past and I’m proud to see pharmacists becoming involved in COVID vaccinations, diabetes, asthma, heart failure, mental health, etc. showing we can provide value to the public.
Interested in becoming a CDE? Check out Esmond’s website at www.cdestudycourse.com for free cheat sheets and quizzes.