Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Downside of My Job

As I've stated numerous times, for the most part I like my job. If it were up to me, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't take a different job or switch to a different company. However, there is one downside about my job (and it doesn't have anything to do with my specific company but rather retail pharmacy in general), it's that I come home from work absolutely exhausted every day.

I'm a low energy person. I'm not one of those people that can get up at the crack of dawn every morning, cook breakfast, do a load of laundry, go to the gym, and then work 12 hours. It's simply an impossibility for me. In addition, I rarely have the energy to work a full day then go out afterwards. Usually, I just don't feel up to it.

Work is stressful for me, as it is for most retail pharmacists. I'm in a busy store. There's always plenty of work to do. The phone never stops ringing. Customers are always asking questions. I bounce from place to place try to help everyone I can. For the most part, I can manage the workload, but I always feel on-edge during the day.

Like other pharmacists, I have my own little obsessive tendencies when I work. Everything has to be neat and orderly. I can't give myself even a 2-second break until all the prescriptions are properly filed, all the bottles are put away, every refill from the automated line is done, all the calls are made, etc. Basically, I don't let myself relax until I have done absolutely everything. I don't save things for later. I won't stop in the middle of something to grab a bite to eat. Everything must be done and put away.

Then I come home....

Usually the first thing I do is throw whatever mail I received that day on a table by the door to my apartment. As I type this, I have a couple weeks of unopened mail just sitting there. After taking off my shoes and throwing them in a pile near the door, I go to my computer and check my email. Usually I spend 20 to 30 minutes just sitting in my computer chair surfing the internet for nothing in particular before I get the energy to move again. The next step is changing out of my work clothes. Instead of throwing them right in the laundry or hanging them up, I pile them up on my dresser, where they usually stay for 3 or 4 days before I get the inclination to do something with them.

As for dinner... I'm usually too tired to cook myself something, so unless I have lunch meat to make a sandwich, I'll eat chips or pretzels for dinner. If those just aren't cutting it, I'll order a pizza. Obviously, this isn't exactly the healthiest diet.

Basically, I'm this big slob at home. I don't change the garbage bags in my trash cans until they're practically overflowing. I leave dishes in the sink for days at a time. I have a pile of Drug Topic magazines just sitting on my desk. I originally meant to read through them, but I just never got around to it, so now they just add to the clutter. Other than basketball, which I play once or twice a week, I haven't done any form of exercise in months. Because of this and my horrible diet, I've gained 11 pounds since October.

I was never ever like this before. When I was growing up and even when I was in college, I always liked things to be neat. I made my bed every single day. I always hung up my clothes. I never left papers or books just lying around. I used to exercise (push-ups, crunches, and other stuff like that) daily. However, ever since becoming a pharmacist, I just don't have the energy for it. I've tried to get back to my old habits. I'm usually good for a week or two before I go right back to being lazy again.

My job just sucks the life right out of me. All I can do afterwards is come home and crash. I often complain about my lack of a love-life, but I honestly can't see how I could even have a successful relationship without burning myself out completely. I just don't have the energy to deal with going out, or celebrating birthdays and anniversaries.

Alright... That's all I've got for now.


pharmacy chick said...

You are seriously in a funk. You need an accountability partner, or at least a non-pharmacy friend, somebody you can have over for dinner (and clean your apartment up for). If its not bills, dont even waste your time opening the mail. Keep a garbage basket near your mail... I am a control freak and it seems you are too--it will suck you dry if you dont give up even the tiniest of things at are killing yourself. Will your company come to your funeral and tell everybody what a great guy you were? I didn't think so.
been there....could write the book, still struggle with it!

Anonymous said...

I am just a tech & work 8 hr shifts but I feel the same way- no energy to do anything! off on the weekends to recharge- 28 single gal alone- its depressing- I think I need a new career, this sux the life out of me

rphgirl said...

I think that ultimately you should ask yourself some questions. What are you long term goals? Is it something that you forsee doing in 5, 10, or 25 years? Is 6 years of school and all the stress and aggravation really worth it? If you already feel burned out so early in your pharmacy career, maybe it's time to get out of retail and start to look into other job opportunities?

Pharmacy Mike said...

I think it's just who I am and not necessarily the job. Like I said, I'm a low energy person. Working Mon-Fri 9-5 would burn me out. The whole 40 hours/week thing is just hard for me.

I like my job. I wouldn't trade places right now for pretty much anything. I hate hospital pharmacy. Waking up at the ass crack of dawn every freaking morning and spending the days going through orders is not my idea of excitement. I'm sorry, I don't get all giddy about dosing aminoglycosides or rounding with the medical team either.

I've given some thought to working in-house at a longterm care pharmacy (I actually worked as a pre-packager at one before getting into pharmacy school). I could see myself doing that, but I don't think it's worth the paycut right now.

I don't know... I think my feeling burned out is more because I'm not particularly happy with my life right now. I have nothing to look forward to when I come home from work, so I spend the time being lazy.

The Ole' Apothecary said...

At the end of some days during my retail years, I left extremely tired, but also feeling liberated, as if I had just been released from some sadistic prison. I know what convicts must feel like on the day of their release. I experienced release from prison numerous times. It was as if Torquemada himself had given the good word and the Inquisitors had taken the torture boot off my foot and let me go relax at a banquet.

This is why I want there to be a thing called TPA, Mike.

Pharmacy Mike said...

See... this is a sign that I'm not a great writer.

My obsessive tendencies at work and my generally low energy level is what's burning me out. It's not retail pharmacy. It's not high prescription volume. It's just the daily grind of being there 40 hours/week while at the same time, I have this unhealthy compulsion to try to do as much as I can by myself when I'm at work.

It's more of a personal thing instead of it being the nature of my job that brings me down.

serendipity said...

Hi Mike,

A fellow pharmacist here from Germany. I feel for you, and understand your situation. Been there-done that!
I have some advice. Get some exercise and change the diet. Do it for one week only, and see how you feel. A short fast walk each a day and lots of veg. I guarantee that you will be a new man!!!! What have you got to lose - only weight!!

Mentally your ability to deal with the pressure and your energy levels, and dare I say your customers, will all increase.



Anonymous said...

I hear ya. I am usually completely
wiped out at the end of a work day -- even if it was a 'slow' day, I think just because I'm in a hyper-alert state all the time, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
But I still get satisfaction out of the job (glad I have one) -- it pays well and there aren't a lot of people who could do what I do, and do it well.

Anonymous said...

Man ... you just completely summed it up.

I sent a link to your blog so my girlfriend could get some confirmation that IT IS NOT JUST ME. I am not the only person who would feel stressed after completing a 12.5 hour shift in a high-volume store.

May the Force be with you ... always.

At least we're helping people and not selling snake oil to chumps.

I'm certain that many, many pharmacists feel the same way

Anonymous said...


I get what you are saying Mike. I feel like that too, many times. I rarely schedule anything after work. But I found a way to improve my life. Work 4 days a week, not 5. It makes a huge difference in quality of life. Yes, you will have less money. But the money is not doing you any good.

At least I have 3 days a week that are "free". I can read books, play around online, take a class. Whatever. I get to recharge my batteries. And then I am less stressed out at work. I cannot tell you what a difference this makes. Techs are always asking me why I am not as "mean" as other pharmacists. This is why.

I chill.

I also have time to socialize. I have a boyfriend and I hang out with other friends too. I have time to schedule going out for lunch, meeting at coffee shops, movies, etc. All these are key to quality of life.

When you are contemplating other jobs, I urge to to contemplate non-pharmacy jobs too. If you only work 4 days a week in pharmacy, you could work part-time in, say a bookstore, if you felt like it.

Just relating what has worked for me.

I wish you well.

Pharmacy Mike said...

I only work 4 days per week now. However, those 4 days are long shifts. Therefore, while I do get 3 days off per week, I pretty much completely lose the days that I work.

I feel like I need the days off to recuperate from my work days. That's why I tend to just hang around in bed most of the day.

Anonymous said...

Just a Tech and I feel exausted by the end of my 8 hour day 8-5 shift. I also dont take breaks, I dont stop until the work is complete. Not everyone at work is as stressed out, but they like to chat, giggle and have fun. I enjoy that when the job is complete, I cant crack a joke until I fill I have a free moment. But with the phones ringing, cashiers bringing me waiters, customers wondering why the copay is so high, hey why is the robot not working, can you please run this $25 doller of coupon through the computer, and can you bill these ostomy supplies through your side. This is the questions I have to answer all at the same time and everyone wants it NOW! I am one person and sometimes I wish someone else could attempt to answer one of these damn questions for me or help me. After gritting my teeth rolling my eyes I eventually get everyone taking care of. If you fill all alone when you work with 4 other people the days suck. But I will keep doing this every day for the rest of my life. This is all I know how to do, And I am Damn good at doing it (most of the time.)

rphgirl said...

Since I left retail, my quality of life has tremendously improved. Even though I used to have a full half an hour lunch during my 10 or 12 hour shifts at retail, not working on evenings, weekends or holidays makes a huge difference.

Anonymous said...

i have a suggestion; try eating fish, either salmon or sardines 3-4 times a week. if any food is going to help you with energy and increasing serotonin levels it would be these foods. i am an intern and last summer i worked 40 hours a week at a 400+ store and ate 2 cans of sardines plus a light lunch along with a couple 100 mg 5-htp spread out through the day and an energy drink at work and would work 2-10 and i felt great all day. i think your serotonin levels are a little low in general; i have had low serotonin levels myself my whole life, due to excessive drinking probably, and at 25 have just now learned how to manage it.