For all those pharmacy students out there

If you’re a pharmacy student, thinking about getting into pharmacy, or a pharmacy professor, please read this (or read this to your students). This should be the new pharmacist creed. (This starts off sappy, but it gets better).
Being a pharmacist, by the Angry Pharmacist:
Theres a lot of things that you will experience once you’re a pharmacist. You’ll be asked questions. You’ll be praised. You’ll be thanked. You’ll see children grow up. You’ll see grandparents pass away. You’ll be the person to translate between medical speak and common english. You’ll give relief to an nervous mother. You’ll give people hope who have none. You’ll smile. You’ll laugh. You’ll joke with your patients. You’ll see your patients go to the prom. You’ll dispense that Plan B Rx to that girl who was in diapers just last week (so you thought). You’ll be asked questions that involve the word penis and vagina. You’ll be asked to look at rashes, and pink eye, and wounds. You’ll be trusted when their doctors cannot be. You’ll save lives. You’ll drive a nice car, have a house, and a good living. You’ll be hounded by family and friends for advice. You’ll be the first to hear about test results and what they mean. You’ll be the most trusted person in most people’s lives.
However!
You’ll be bitched at. You’ll be taken for granted. You’ll be the target of angry words, attacks, and threats. You’ll be lied to. You’ll be bullshitted. You’ll be overworked and understaffed. You’ll have no gratification from the people who owe you their lives and well being. You’ll be used. You’ll see the shit at the bottom of the pond of society. You’ll (somehow) be the person responsible for slavery, poverty, and all that is evil in the world. You’ll be cried at one min, and yelled at the next when you wont fill soma early. You’ll be the target of con scams, stories, and shit. You’ll become callous and jaded to the world around you. You’ll see not things as right and wrong, but truth and bullshit. You’ll be able to tell a crackhead the moment they walk in the front door. You’ll see addiction, thievery, and diversion. You wont have one min to yourself without being interrupted by an idiot. You’ll see stupidity. You’ll get a gun shoved in your face for money or narcotics (i did, twice even!). You’ll be the target of crime and theft. Your car will be stolen or vandalized or hit in the parking lot by someone with no license, no insurance, and is here illegally (but gets more health benefits than you, on your tax dollar). You’ll sit there powerless to do anything about an addict because you lack proof. You’ll see crooked doctors write out gallons of vicodin and get away with it. You’ll get audited by insurance companies and the DEA and the state board over stupid shit. You’ll see doctors who will rather listen to a big boobed drug rep than you. You’ll be fucked over by the chains and mail order pharmacies who are supposed to be on your side. You’ll get shafted by insurance companies. You’ll see that AWP-25% + 1.50 and think its a good deal. You’ll be left on hold for an hour because the doctors office is too cheap to buy a fax machine. You’ll deal with ignorant doctor office staff who should be cleaning toilets than calling in prescriptions. You’ll get orders wrong because the fucking nurse cant speak clear english. You’ll get a glimmer of happiness when you see a cash customer, only to have it be snuffed out when he wants his Rx’s transfered to a mail order pharmacy because its ‘cheaper’ (after you did all the work to fill them). Your time will be worth nothing to the patients. You’ll get mad. You’ll get frustrated. You’ll consider going on medication. You’ll go on medication. And at the end of the day, when you get home and stare down at the bottom of that third glass of gin; you’ll wonder why in the fuck you went to school to deal with this.
Remember, 98% of the world are good people, but it just takes a fraction of the 2% of assholes to really ruin your day.
If you end up reading this to your staff, printing it out for your pharmacy wall, or read this to your students, let me know so I dont feel like I wasted time thinking of all of this.. :)

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33 Comments

  1. Natalie says:

    I forwarded this to ALL my pharmacy-related coworkers! They will get a big kick out of it!

  2. Heather says:

    I love your blog. I was but a lowly cashier in one of the largest, busiest pharmacies in town… and naturally, the only one that carried most medications the free clinic liked to subscribe. There was the homeless lady addicted to Tylenol 3s (you could see the yellow in her eyes) who paid her copays with begged-for change, the pregnant girls on medicaid who culdn’t pronounce their own names, much less give you their birthdate correctly, the works. And of course, any of the pharmacist/pharm techs’ mistakes were entirely our fault.
    And to make matters worse, the owner was a prick. And his son a state representative.
    I feel your pain.

  3. Rebecca says:

    laughing.so.hard.

  4. Melissa says:

    Hi, I’m a Canadian community pharmacy and subscribe to your blog and love seeing your newest rant (reading it at work seems justified!) I loved this entry and did in fact print it out and read it to my techs before I even got to the end of it, so had to make sure you knew it’s worthwhile!
    I know you don’t think much of all Canadian pharmacists from some previous entries, but we’re not ALL bad and my stores don’t sell products to Americans just because we have access to some things cheaper. (and we don’t do mail order)
    Anyway, keep up the good work, pretty much everything is exactly the same for community pharmacies here in Canada.

  5. Pharm Student in Toronto says:

    I noticed that you talk a lot about how pharmacists get screwed over (and I find it really funny might I add), but are you up for stories of when pharmacists screw up?

    • chuck says:

      He reads your blogs, and then asks how a pharmacist can screw up? We can tell he is only a student. Im late but trying to catch up on ur older posts.

  6. Pharm student says:

    I’m in my final year of Pharmacy school and I loved this post. Will forward it to my classmates. I enjoy reading your rants.. do blog more often! All the best at work :)

  7. Dean C says:

    Dude, I hear that, and that is soooooo true.

  8. kong says:

    Im a 1st year pharmacy student and this will be posted at the school for all to see. I admit that I have already posted the drugnazis “I realize today I’ve done you a disservice.” This one seems just as pertinent. I read these posts and often wonder if I really want to get myself into this. Having experienced much of this as a tech sometimes I just have to shake my head.
    Take Care,
    Kong

  9. AnAngryP1 says:

    I am a First year Pharmacy student already seeing glimpses of why the only way to survive community pharmacy is become jaded and carry a gun.
    PS The “new” pharmacists creed is getting posted on our class message board right away.

  10. Nic says:

    I think I love you.
    I’m a third shift pharmacist in a very poor inner-city area. I see everything. I hate most of it. I’ve been a pharmacist for less than 5 months and I sometimes wonder why I went to pharmacy school to be treated like crap by the people who benefit from my highly-taxed paycheck. One of the other third-shift guys in the area told me about your blog after listening to another one of my tales of stupid patients. He used to work at my store, so he understands the special kind of hell that area brings.
    I think you must have worked at my store too, because surely two places on earth could so closely resemble the 7th circle of hell.

  11. The Angry Pharmacist makes for good reading

    Long ago in a place far away, I was a full-time pharmacy professor. I love pharmacy students, almost as much as I love medical and nursing students. But, to me, pharmacy students were special because they would one day be…

  12. enrico says:

    You didn’t fill a Soma right then and there? My God man, what were you thinking?!? You’re lucky to be typing this right now…
    …and this is one of the main reasons I didn’t go into pharmacy. Seriously, because if it was what all the pharm school literature made it out to be, I would have been so there. Even clinical pharm (in the student brochures) was billed as being so much more than what actually tends to happen day-to-day in a real hospital. It’s a shame, because they should let the best trained people do the appropriate job. Period.

  13. Paul says:

    I just heard about this site today, went home and have been reading (and laughing to myself) for almost 2 hours so far. I’m a Canadian pharmacist (we’re not all bad) and have been one for 25 years. After all that time, I still love my job. I think what “saves” me is that (at least where I’ve worked) for every 10 people who give me a hard time, I get one or two who come in and thank me for the help I’ve given them. We have some nice customers. Over Christmas, our staff got pretty much inundated with goodies. (Mind you, I think I’ve gained at least 5 pounds over the holidays…!)
    But we also have the crappy customers too – and they can be a real pain. I just try to keep things in perspective.
    That being said, I’m printing out your post and bringing it in to work tomorrow! I love it and your blog! (And yes, I can identify with much of it…)

  14. Jeff Medel says:

    True! I work in a CVS in a nice part of Indiana, and don’t deal with any innercity people. BUT, I still deal with the same CRAP!! I am 29, have been a Pharmacist for four years, and am seriously considering a job switch. I love the paycheck, but I hate the job. Long hours, understaffed, zero respect.
    I couldn’t disagree more with the line you wrote: “You’ll be the most trusted person in most people’s lives.” Wrong, really wrong. Some customers will take your word above a docs, most won’t. No, too much ‘fast food’ pharmacy atmosphere for most people to take me seriously. Most just want their scripts filled . . . and FAST!! I feel totally taken for granted.
    Jeff

  15. wrecksall says:

    I have been a retail and hospital pharmacist for 15 years and many of the things in this rant have occured to me and I have despaired. However I think pharmacy must be thought of like the game of golf which is very humbling. One day you will hit a shot that perfectly flies down the fairway and a serene sense of satisfaction will come over you. I have filled over a million prescriptions and I know there have been at least ten occasions where if I did not intervene the patient would have been severely injured if not killed. The last occasion was in 2006 where a dose of gentamicin was written for 10 times the correct dose for a one day old baby. The RN argued with me and if I had not insisted I am sure it would have been given. The president of the hospital wrote me a letter of thanks and I think of the parents who will never know me and what I did. Pharmacy will definately thicken your skin from abuse but when you make a difference in someone’s life it will all be worthwhile even if no one sees you make that shot.

  16. Pharmacy Man says:

    What to do if family has suffered from a medical mistake? WBR LeoP

  17. NZ Pharmacy Chick says:

    I love your blog – been reading through the history (obviously) and have printed this out for my students.
    I work at a Pharmacy School in New Zealand, and in community pharmacy – and the customers are just the same here!
    Keep up the blogging!
    Kate

  18. Ed says:

    Most of what you say is true, I had a BS then upgraded to a Pharm D and then make a new career venture and studied law. What frustated me was the monotony of the job and the envy of the techs who basically did the same job but with much less pay. I’d tried to go to the pharmaceutical manufacturing or being a sales rep but for a reason that I still don’t understand I was unable to change my career path, then God showed me that I am a people person, that I was able to save them some money telling them to go to their doctors to change their medication for something equally effective but cheaper. I am still a little bit frustated but with the help of God I will be able to overcome it.
    God bless you all

  19. Dan says:

    TAP
    Why do you dislike Canadian Pharmacists?

  20. Hoa says:

    I work in a pharmacy and am applying for pharmacy schools. I really love everything you wrote. Everything described is precisely right. I’m going to print this out and read it to my co-workers tomorrow.

  21. John says:

    Your writing brings a smile to my face :D

  22. mohammed says:

    im a pharmacy student
    you are right
    but its not always the case
    you’re looking at the empty half of the thing
    man u can smile when its imposible to do
    u can end this thing this life ur having
    i know my self i will be better thanks for telling us the negative side of it.
    but i like to concentrate at the first few lines
    thats what life is about
    you’re choices

  23. Brandi says:

    Definitely printing this one out
    and taking it to work tomorrow!
    Thanks for the Laugh.

  24. glache says:

    That’s why you go into hospital instead :D If your customers are stupid, they’re usually too sick to show it. I don’t know how you can handle 5 days a week of customers (or 6-7 if you’re unlucky) but I couldn’t even hack one Saturday each week for 9 months! Now I work just enough (read: once or twice a semester) to refresh my knowledge. btw I live in Sydney so it’s not just Americans :p

  25. I’m a pharmaceutical student in Kyoto.
    Pharmacies in your country are more exciting than those in Japan. However, pharmacists in your country are much more respected by people. In Japan, the pharmacist is thought of as a people who only pack and sell medicine.

  26. indecisive says:

    i am currently in undergrad and im in a 6-yr PharmD program. its my second year (and last yr) undergrad and im seriously considering maybe switching to pre-med just because of things like this that happen in pharmacies. im a people person and i LOVE helping people, and if people are going to disrespect me for doing that in a pharmacy, maybe i’ll end up happier as a doctor. i still cant decide :(

  27. Jennifer says:

    I love you!!!n You speak the pharmacy gospel!!!! I would love to work with you. I follow you on twitter and everyone in my pharmacy loves it when I share it with them!!!!

  28. Mike says:

    …and my friend said his job wss not exciting enough…………………………………….

    Would you trade half your salary for not having to deal with the other 2 percent? Remember to always invest in your customers and never expect anything in return.

  29. Shelene says:

    I’m a Pharmacy student on my fourth rotation. Just thought I’d let you know that yes, I do read your blog on occasion (particularly when it comes up in a search in my DI rotation) and I do on occasion refer others to it. Here’s hoping your days get better.
    -Shelene.

  30. Tim says:

    I’m not a fan of Walgreens, or any other chain for that matter. I think we all need to rethink what Walgreens is doing, however. We finally got a fighter against the worst PBM –> Express Scripts and nobody is standing to fight? Express scripts says “Who Cares we have 65,000 other pharmacies, walgreens would be our highest reimbursed pharmacy, screw them, we’ll give out coupons to our 65,000 contracted pharmacy’s to pay out $20 for customers leaving walgreens to go to them and we’ll put the contracted pharmacies in our letter….”

    So all these contracted pharmacies join in to kick Walgreens in the nuts after they’ve fallen and pull money out of their wallets…..

    What kind of story would it be like this
    “Headlines Pharmacists and pharmacy’s unite to stop spiraling reimbursements going after the leading PBM that has been leading the spiral, 65,000 pharmacies join Walgreens fight saying we’ve reached the bottom limits!”

    NOPE we just fueled the fire!

  31. bcmigal says:

    I doubt that Walgreens will really give up Express (and Wellpoint and Medco). They will kiss and make up before the end of the year and Walgreens will get a lot of free publicity.

  32. Unknown says:

    I met the worst pharmacist. His name was Alex Saliba and he didnt know anything I asked him. I needed answers on these medications I’m taking but he just looked around as though I was talking to a wall!! God help him he will end up killing someone.

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