I know this sounds crazy, and it certainly seems to go against the popular opinion of pharmacist bloggers. However, I must admit that I actually like retail pharmacy.
I'll give you a minute to process what I just said.... In fact, I'll even say it again in case you didn't get it the first time. I like retail pharmacy. Honestly, I do.
I didn't like it initially. In fact, I hated working in retail ever since I started as an intern in 2004 up until the end of last year after I got licensed. I used to complain, and rightfully so, that retail pharmacy had nothing to do with what I learned in pharmacy school. In fact, I would have been just as prepared to be a retail pharmacist if I went to pharmacy technician classes instead of pharmacy school. As I stated in a previous post, you don't need to know a whole lot about drugs to be a retail pharmacist. 90% of the questions you get asked can be answered with tylenol, benadryl, or senna + docusate.
It took me a while to come to grips with the fact that I would never use most of the drug information I learned. This was hard for me to accept because I was an exceptional student. Coming out of school, my knowledge base was as good or better than anyone in my class. Plus, I had good problem solving abilities, and I had (and still have) a talent for being able to explain things in simpler terms that patients can understand.
I was going to do a residency. I had gotten my applications together and got a couple letters of recommendation from my preceptors. One of my preceptors pretty much said I was the best student she had ever had on her rotation, and she all but begged me to do my residency at her site. I ended up abandoning the residency idea after going to my school's "interview day" (which is pretty much a day when representatives from all the chain stores and local hospitals come to your school and tell you how much money they want to pay you to work for them). It was just impossible for me, a broke college kid, to turn away from the 6-figure salaries of retail.
While I loved the money, my pride was hurt because I knew that a lot of lesser students in my class were going to do residencies, and they would be looked at as the "smart" pharmacists and drug information experts. Then I heard which students got the residency positions to which I was going to apply, and it really bothered me knowing that I would have been 1,000x better than any of them in that position.
You can tell that it still bothers me a bit, but it doesn't bring me down like it used to. Basically, I had a change of mindset that allowed me to get beyond this. I stopped worrying about being respected by my clinical pharmacy peers. Now, the only thing I worry about is how I'm perceived by our customers and my coworkers. There's this notion that clinical pharmacy is an exclusive area that not every pharmacist has the ability to do successfully. Well, the same is true of retail pharmacy. Not every pharmacist is capable of handling the rigors and tress of retail. I can. Most of my preceptors, who were supposed to be these great leaders for the profession of pharmacy, could not. What actually separates me from them is that I could just as easily have done either clinical or retail. I choose to stay in retail, because in the end, I like it better.
Yes, asshole customers suck. However, there aren't really all that many assholes out there. We just tend to remember them more than the nice ones. Generally though, I like my days in the pharmacy. I like the fact that we're really busy, so 10 or 12 hour shifts just fly right by. I like having 3 days off per week. I like thinking of ways to better organize the workflow, so that my day goes by more smoothly. I like figuring out the glitches in our computer software that no one else can.
So call me crazy, but I actually like my job.