Friday, July 6, 2007

Just to clarify...

I have spent and will spend a lot of time ranting, raving, and complaining about my job. I complain about customers, doctors, insurance companies, fellow workers, etc. Make no mistake about it, my job (and any retail pharmacist's job) can be very frustrating. I just want to make it clear that despite my complaints, I don't regret getting into this profession.

Yes, I complain, and sometimes I wish that all the problems customers and vicodin addicts would just OD and die. However, I'm the kind of pharmacist you want filling your prescription. I'm a perfectionist. I don't settle for doing less than my best. I will never half-ass anything. I realize the importance of my job, and I especially realize the importance of being accurate. When I make a mistake (it's rare, but it happens to the best of us), I go out of my way to resolve the situation. It genuinely bothers me. I don't care how small or seemingly insignificant that mistake may be. I strive for perfection. I want to get EVERYTHING correct.

This is why I get frustrated by customers who stand 3 feet away from the counter after dropping their prescription off. These people are the kind that divide their time between staring angrily at me and looking at their watch. They get antsy if their prescription isn't ready within 5 minutes. They also have no concern over the long line and the 400+ other prescriptions per day that we have to fill. Having their script filled quickly is the only thing they care about.

Forgive me if I don't share the same sentiment. Personally, I don't really care how long it takes me to fill your prescription, and you shouldn't either. If I tell you that there is a 30 minute wait, it's not because I'm being lazy or slow. It's because I don't believe I can safely and accurately fill your prescription in less than 30 minutes. I don't believe a person should have to wait hours to get a prescription filled. At the same time, if we're extremely busy (and anyone walking into our pharmacy can tell when we're extremely busy), I don't want to be forced to rush a script out in 5 minutes. That's how mistakes happen.

The concern here is for my own license and the patients' safety. My primary job as a pharmacist is to safely and accurately dispense your medication. This entails looking over your prescription profile for drug interactions, potential allergic reactions, drug/disease contraindications, proper dosing, etc. Once I have ensured that the medication is safe for you to take, I must make sure that the prescription is accurately filled. While I'm trying to do this, the phone is constantly ringing (new prescriptions being called in, customers with questions, other pharmacies with transfers, customers with problems, insurace companies calling about past claims...), my technicians and clerks are constantly asking me to help them find something or do something on the computer, and customers are coming to the counter to ask me questions (many of which are along the lines of "Where is the nail polish remover???"). The amount of multitasking required by a pharmacist is incredible.

So when I complain about my job, I'm mostly complaining about the people that waste my precious time and divert my attention from the task of safely and accurately dispensing medication. Every time a doctor doesn't write legibly, every time a secretary calls in a prescription incorrectly, every time you ask me to call your insurance company to question a high price even though I'm 100% sure you hit your yearly maximum, my time is wasted. When too much of my time gets wasted, prescription errors are more likely to happen.

That doesn't mean I don't ever want to talk to patients. If you have a question on your medication, then please, by all means, ask me about it. In fact, ask any pharmacist about it. I went to school 6 years to learn all the little details of your medication. I'll be happy to get a chance to share my clinical expertise. If you want a recommendation on OTC medication (even though I believe most OTCs are shit), I'll come out in the aisle and help you choose something. Just don't ask me where the batteries are because A) I don't know, and B) I don't give a shit.

This brings me back to the main point... While pharmacists like me are the kind that can get frustrated and short with customers more easiliy than others, we're also the ones that are going to give you the best possible care. We care about our job. We take pride in our work, and we expect more out of ourselves than others. If that means we take an extra 5 minutes to fill your prescription, than so be it.

Besides, do you really want your prescription filled in the same manner that McDonald's prepares your hamburgers???

No comments: