Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Curse My Conscientious Heart

At my pharmacy, being a good, hardworking, conscientious pharmacist reward you with staying 2 hours later than your shift ends because there are still 30 scripts waiting to be typed and a never-ending line at the registers. I can't, in good conscious, leave my fellow pharmacist coworkers in a precarious situation like that, so I stay until we are all caught up.

It shouldn't be this hard, but the store is filled with incompetent employees. I'm not blaming them, mind you. It's not their fault that no one ever got a chance to train them to use the computer software. It's not their fault they don't know when to look in the "big" section when the customer is picking up a prescription that's too big to fit into the bins. Instead, I blame the management (which doesn't include me) for hiring so many non-technician personnel. Our pharmacy fills over 2,800 scripts per week, but we only have 3 licensed pharmacy technicians that work a significant amount of hours. The rest of the staff are untrained clerks. Therefore, the pharmacists pretty much do everything.

It's really tough. I spend half the day spinning around in circles going from PC terminal to PC terminal, answering phone call after phone call (and that goddamn phone never stops ringing!!!!!), checking our voice mail for prescriptions, helping to solve insurance problems etc.

The sad part is, the more pride you take in your job, the worse the stress becomes. I feel guilty not going above and beyond to solve someone's problem or answer someone's question. I bend over backwards to help all our customers (no matter how loathsome they might be) because I feel it is part of my responsibility as a pharmacist.

On the otherhand, you could have some lazy pharmacist who doesn't bother to call doctors when the insurance requires a prior authorization, won't call insurance companies for vacation overrides or to obtain eligibilty information when customers don't have their cards or if they have the wrong ones, etc. That pharmacist doesn't care enough to help his customers, so his day is made easier by not taking that extra step.

Perhaps, I'll learn that the only way to survive this profession is to become one of those pharmacists. I've only been licensed for less than a year, so I haven't quite become completely bitter with my job. I never had the rosy-idealistic view of the profession that they try to instill in you in pharmacy school. I always knew that retail pharmacy was a bullshit profession for the most part.

Think about it: How much do you really have to know to type what the doctor wrote down, grab a bottle off the shelf, count out a few tablets, then label the vial?? I know some technicians that could run a pharmacy better than most pharmacists simply because they have some common sense, and they've been doing the job for a long time. Most of retail pharmacy is learned through experience. Right after I graduated, I still didn't have the slightest clue how to deal with insurance companies. I had all this clinical knowledge, but clinical knowledge has next to nothing to do with retail pharmacy. If you understand insurance companies, you're an excellent retail pharmacist.

As for customer questions... just about anyone is qualified to answer a question about what to use to treat poison ivy. Stuffy nose, Sudafed. Allergies, Claritin or Benadryl depending on whether you want something non-drowsy. Pain, tylenol or motrin. That covers just about everything you'll ever have to know. Anything else, you can look up just like every pharmacist does. I got a question today, "Can topamax cause your face and feet to feel numb and tingly?" I didn't know for sure off the top of my head, but having Lexicomp on my PDA, I could look it up in less than 10 seconds. I could have given my PDA to the store's porter, and he could have figured it out.

Moreover, even if you use your vast clinical expertise and catch a significant interaction, upon calling the doctor, the response is almost always "that's fine, we'll monitor." Just about the only time doctors will switch a med is if it interacts with a patient's coumadin. Other than that, they couldn't give a shit. I've been ridiculed several times for even bring up a cytochrome P450 interaction to a doctor. "What? Did you look that one up in your little pocket reference?," said one physician after letting out a good chuckle. Now, unless I get a big red DUR warning screen, I don't bother calling. In fact, I probably only call the physician on 5% of the severe DUR warnings that I get. It's just pointless to waste my time when I know for certain the doctor will just shrug it off.

Anyway... since I sort of got off on a tangent, I'll end this here.


DrugMonkey said...

You won't want to hear this.....

You totally do not want to hear this...

But it's true.....

You sound a lot like the drugmonkey around 1992.

I'm sorry. I wish I could tell you it will get better. It won't.

Natalie :) said...

Please, please, please don't become *that* pharmacist...

I'm a tech (3.5 years) and I HATE *that* pharmacist.

I guarantee I will work my tail off for a pharmacist like you, please don't change!!! :)

I know, I know...we all become a little bittered as time goes on, but please try and be the good pharmacist you are today!!!