Take a step back for a second and look at retail life.
We went to school to learn about drugs, the human body, a little bit about diagnosing stuff, interactions, CYP450, Kreb’s Cycle, Chemistry, Biology, Kinetics, blah blah blah. Most of us spend 3 to 4 years in classes, then went out on rotations for 9 to 18 months working for free, etc.
However what do we do for 9 hours a day? Do we actively use this knowledge to further better our patient’s lives? Do we use all of the crap that they force-fed us in pharmacy school to do the things that they promised us we’d do? Do we get to spend an hour talking with little old white ladies while wearing our pristine white coat (gotten at the UOP White Coat Ceremony, die UOP) while we laugh and talk and go over her disease states and medications with smiles on our faces like the chains portray pharmacists in their ads?
We are the babysitters, the nannys, the ass-wipers and the caregivers of the general public. When there is a problem, we have to deal with it (even if it had nothing to do with us). Patient loses their medication or takes it wrong? We have to deal with it. Patient flushes her Percodan down the toilet its OUR job to put the call in. We are the common sense of the public and the bearer/invoker of their personal responsibility. Doing this makes us a doormat, not doing it makes us no better than fucking McDonalds or Burger King. Fuck, some stores are already no better than fast food chains with drive-through windows.
We went to school to end up using our deep pharmacological knowledge so we can apply it via AARP covers Zocor and not Lipitor or that nicotine patches are a DAW-1. Lyrica is only covered if Neurontin is failed and nobody covers fucking Adipex-P or Xenical. We wait on hold to speak with some dillhole in India who speaks like a robot because the ID card has the wrong information or PCN printed on it. See that AWP -%30 + 1.50? Take it and like it; you don’t have a fucking choice anymore.
We try to decipher handwriting that looks like shit-covered toilet paper as office staff who cant speak a fucking clear word of English try to sound words like atenolol while using phrases like “Well this *looks* like….”. We are a slave to the machine known as a “Fax” and the 2 doctors in town who still think that its a HIPAA violation to use one. Our jobs revolve around the public whining at us because they waited until they were out (typical idiots) to have us send the fax over to the doctor for the refill request. Did I mention that its also Friday night and the doctor turns his fax machine OFF when he’s not there? Doctors think that we are nothing but fucking pill counters and treat us like some ignorant plebe who knows nothing about medications (or anything for that matter).
We are the vicodin police to a completely inept and retarded DEA (Fuck you DEA, more on you later) who collects data from us yet does absolutely nothing with it. We live in fear of inspections from the only professional licensing agency that is AGAINST us. You fuck up, the state board wants your head. They aren’t there to protect you, they are there to protect the public FROM you. Tell me how that works and why I send them money every 2 years for a green piece of paper with my name on it.
We go through this day in and day out so we can live a good life. We put in our 30 years to hopefully have some sort of retirement (since Medicare will be long broke when I retire), and after those long days, 2 heart attacks, refills upon refills of the Buspar and Wellbutrin you take to keep your sanity, and the dumpsters full of alcohol bottles to make the pain go away, you can look back at your career and really ask yourself was it really worth it.
You’ll think.. You’ll think some more.. You’ll drink.. You’ll drink some more… Days will run into weeks will run into paydays will run into months into years.
You’ll remember this post, and say to yourself “yeah, it was worth it”. For all the shit that we deal with, for all the frustrations, the hold times, the yelling, the swearing, the hugs your techs give you when you’re about to have a breakdown, the throwing of pens and dumping of Alpharma’s (now Activis) insanely sticky Prometh with Codeine on the counter (as you scream “SHIT!” and hope your patients didnt hear you) you’ll have those handful of patients who’s life you really did make a difference. You’ll have the metaphorical little white ladies in the chain commercials who you *did* help out and *did* make life just a bit better. You will be someones hero and a person that people look to for nothing more than a smile, hello and acknowledgment that they exist. You’ll walk through the parking-lot wearing that beat-up white coat that you got in school 20+ years ago like a badge of fucking honor and respect as your patients know you by name and will drive across town to come into *your* pharmacy to say nothing more that what you suggested to them OTC worked like a charm.
From this post you must get the idea that retail pharmacy sucks, that I hate it, that I wish that lightning would strike me down and put me out of my misery. Certain days there is nothing more in life I would wish for, however everyone is like that with their job. When its a really shitty day and nothing is going right, yeah, I hate it. However those days are few and far between. Thats why its called work, not fun (“How was fun today dear? Oh, tiring”).
I wrote this because retail pharmacy is changing and I really don’t feel like pharmacy students are getting the proper picture that retail paints. This isn’t designed to scare people away, but to let them know exactly what they are getting themselves into. After spending tens of thousands of dollars and all that time in school, wouldn’t it be a waste if you learned you couldn’t take getting yelled at for an early soma refill your very first day as a pharmacist? That on the first day working alone you realized that retail life was in fact nothing like what your school had prepared you for?
I really wish that Drug Topics or somewhere else would publish some of what I write, but I think that I use too many bad words are too “real” for most magazines out there. I wish they would grow up and realize that people swear, and that medicine/life isn’t one big hugfest.