How to make your pharmacy career less painful.
Some asshole who shall remain nameless was giving me shit about my lack of posts (man, get a book published and you somehow think you’re God or something), so heres another gem for you all.
I recently had the pleasure(?) of spending some quality time with a bunch of pre-pharmacy and pharmacy school students a few weeks ago. Since they all look up to me like I’m the Asian Jesus, I decided to be an excellent role model for them all (in typical TAP fashion, although they dont know I’m TAP)…….
I told them how retail pharmacy really is. No candy coating, no bullshit MTM verbal masturbation sessions, no smoke-up-ass like *PhA loves to throw at them. Just both barrels right to their faces about exactly what life is like in the trenches. For those who didn’t cry or decide that it wasn’t worth it, I offered them gems of whiz-dumb having both gone through what they are going through now (school) and the transition into being an adult with bills, responsibilities, and a full time job.
One of these topics was how to handle pharmacy-related stress. I swear I should teach a fucking class on this, but I doubt any school would allow some asshole who shall remain nameless and I to wheel in a pony keg and a few cases of scotch into the classroom.
For those of you at home who think being a pharmacist isn’t stressful, go into your local retail pharmacy at opening and closing on Monday and Friday. Notice the scramble running around in the back? Thats a pharmacist about to flip his shit. The public thinks we just count by 5’s and drink coffee all day. Well, I cant blame them, because thats how we’re portrayed in those shitty Target commercials:
Lets examine a few (oh boy).
**UPDATE** Someone (ahem) made these videos private. Whoops!
Okay, so the glaring obvious errors with that commercial is that…. Its all fucking made up. Whoever made that commercial obviously has not worked in a pharmacy, went to pharmacy school, or has waited in line in a pharmacy. Lets show that kid fucking crying in her book hating her life as shes studying for that kinetics final. Lets show her graduate working graveyard (because the market is hosed) with some crackhead giving her both barrels about their fucking soma being too early. “I am a medical dictionary” turns into “I’m a fucking narcotic dispenser”. Oh, and who’s going to pay for “Flu shots for all”? For all of those retail pharmacists out there, when was the last time you got to whip out a word larger than “Not Covered”, “Copay”, “Too Early”, “Doctor hasn’t faxed back yet” or “Yeah, we have the yellow Norco”? Yeah, thats what I thought, medical dictionary my fucking ass.
**UPDATE** There was an awesome “sneeze whisperer” youtube video here, but someone got butthurt and made them all private.
I hate to break it to you all, but allergies isn’t fucking rocket science. This commercial makes the public think that allergies are some complex thing that you need a PharmD to treat. Take some fucking claritin/allegra/zyrtec and GTFO. No, your insurance won’t cover that, but my foot will assist you in your travels.
A few coworkers saw this bullshit and we came up with a better version (that I’m allowed to make parts public).
“I am in Rho Chi”
“I took the State Boards 3 times”
“I have an internet girlfriend”
“Nobody knew who I was in school”
“The tampons are on isle 4 next to the maxi pads”
“I am a raging alcoholic”
“I masturbate to 2-girls-1-cup”
“I asked stupid questions in class so my classmates knew I still existed” (You fucking know exactly what im talking about, dont you?)
You get the idea.
The fact is that unless you’re doing under 20 Rx’s a day, real life pharmacy isn’t that laid back and awesome. The only place I have time to ponder life like that is when I’m taking a shit, and even then I’m trying to birth it out as quickly as possible because I have 3 lines on hold, a little old lady who wants to ask me the same question she asked me last week about her Aricept, a crackhead who wants a price on 460 oxycodone 5mg from an out of town doctor, and my tech decides that now would be a good time to pick up her kid from school. Hows that for a fucking Target pharmacist commercial”
“Im too fucking busy for this shit, get that fucking camera out of my face, SOMEONE GET LINE 2. JUST GET A FUCKING MESSAGE HE JUST WANTS TO GIVE ME HIS RX NUMBERS! What did I
say about that fucking camera! Fine, IM A TARGET FUCKACIST, I SAY GET THE FUCK OUT”
Now that I’ve gotten some random rage out of the way. Time for the vicodin and soma of this little rant. How to deal with stress from pharmacy and how to tolerate your life in retail pharmacy.
- Alcohol doesn’t solve your problems. Ironic that I’m writing that as I swig out of the bottle some shitty wine that a patient brought in for us for doing something that I really dont remember, but somehow he thought I was the shit. Don’t turn to booze to solve your issues. If you do, you might get a pharmacy book published, be part of the cool kids club on twitter that has more followers than our national association, and get to use 4 letter words on the internet and people love you for it. Honestly, in all seriousness, all joking aside, this wine really fucking sucks. Oh well, its getting this post made isn’t it! Oh, yeah, don’t drink to solve your problems. Its a short term patch for 30+ years of fucking hel-OH HAI WINE!
- Only vent to people who understand. You went to school, you made friends (unless you’re a Target Pharmacist!). Hell, you probably even joined an awesome pharmacy fraternity where you became a ‘leader in pharmacy’. Those are the people who you want to vent to. Avoid venting about work to non-pharmacy folks. They will think you HATE your job. Unless they work in a pharmacy, they don’t understand the stress and pressure of working in one, let alone being the person who’s license is riding on everything. If all else fails, write out the anger, it worked for me.
- You are just as important as the lowest paid person who you employ. This sounds sorta funny, but if you walk around wielding your PharmD like its the holy grail and make people call you Dr, your life is going to suck. Your techs and your clerks are your work-family. Unless you want to be counting out everything, ringing up people yourself, and screening all your own phone-calls yourself, treat them with respect and kindness. Trust me, being high-and-mighty will just put your nuts in the vise when the shit hits the fan. A good time to pull out the PharmD card, is when some douchebag patient is giving your clerk both barrels over their own fuck-up. Use your authority on the patients when they get uppity, not on your staff.
- Get a hobby that has NOTHING to do with pharmacy, medicine, the store, etc. Collect stamps, work on cars, do SOMETHING other than come home and stew about work. Your family, your marriage, and your sanity will love you for it.
- Leave work at work, and home at home. This is harder than it sounds, but being in a shitty mood when you get home everyday is just going to be the turd in the family punch bowl. A lot of people learn this the hard way. Don’t blow up at your family (or kick your dog) over what happened at work. On the same token, if your kid really pissed you off, don’t bring it to work. It’ll just distract you and thats where errors start to creep in, then you are REALLY up shit creek.
- Make your hard work worth it to you. This goes back to the hobbies. I know you have student loans, car payments, house payments, but once in a while you need to buy yourself something nice to reward yourself for waking up every morning and dealing with the daily grind. It doesn’t have to be expensive. My favorite self-treat is lunch. Usually taco-bell, the cheap-as-shit menu, and its always cold by the time I get to it. Don’t fucking laugh at me.
- Don’t self-medicate. Seriously as shit about this one, go through the right channels to get antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, and other Rx only shit. You will fuck yourself over if something happens and you don’t have the paperwork to back it up. Even if your doctor says “You know more about this shit than me, pick whatever you like”, either have the documentation in order or have a damn good story for when the shit hits the fan. I used to jokingly say in school that “There are 2 types of pharmacists in the world, ones on antidepressants and ones who are raging alcoholics.” You have no idea.
That’s the jist (from what I can remember) that I told these impressionable, moldable, vulnerable young people about how to survive retail pharmacy. I’m hoping that I can single handily either save retail pharmacy, or fuck it up more than Express Scripts.
Oh, in case you were wondering, this wine still tastes like shit.