Sunday, August 31, 2008

White Coats

My employer just instituted a new dress code policy stating that pharmacists MUST wear their white coats. I know that most of you are saying, "Big deal; I wear a white coat everyday." Well, I don't. In fact, I don't even have to wear a tie to work (and even with the new dress code, I still don't). Our dress code has always been very casual. As long as you looked professional (button down shirt, no jeans), you were fine.

I don't know how others feel about this, but I absolutely hate the white coat. The only good thing about them is that they have pockets to hold your pens. Otherwise, they get dirty, especially the sleeves which get covered in black dust which must come from the toner in the laser jet printer. They're also pretty restrictive. You don't have as much range of motion in your arms unless you get a coat that's a little too big for you, and then you feel like you're swimming in it. I get hot wearing the coat. Finally, since I'm constantly hurrying from one side of the pharmacy to the other, I tend to get the pockets of the white coat stuck on corners, especially the corners of the bins. Maybe the best reason not to wear the stupid coat is that I firmly believe we look better without them, or at the very least, I certainly do. I feel like I dress pretty well. I'm thin. The coat makes me look bulky and overly nerdy.

I feel that the time of the white coat has passed. At this point, it's only a symbol of status. It's designed to tell people that we're medical professionals because we wear a white coat. Since most of us are no longer compounding prescriptions on a regular basis, we're not using them to shield our clothing from aquaphor or coal tar. They no longer serve a practical purpose.

I love the casual dress code. I think it allows me to look professional while still appearing approachable. I think this look encourages customers to ask questions because I don't look as intimidating as someone in a white coat.

In any case... I'm currently rebelling against the new dress code. I've decided that I will not don my white coat until someone threatens me with some kind of punishment. I'm not about to lose my job over a stupid coat, but I want to see just how far I can push this thing. I get to work early every day. I never call out sick. I work hard. My coworkers like me. Our customers like me. I dress well. Surely, my employer wouldn't fire me over refusing to wear a stupid white coat.... at least I would hope so. With so many piss poor pharmacists out there, there's no way they can justify doing anything to me over it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Considering being a preceptor

That's pretty much the only update I have in my pharmacy world. I'm really considering becoming a preceptor.

Our store's long time pharmacy intern returned to work this summer (she goes to school out of state, so during the semester, she can't work). She's now just starting her rotations during her last year of school. This summer, I made a little bit of an effort to try to at least get her thinking about some of the things she will inevitably have to know for rotations. I didn't go out of my way to quiz her about drugs, but if I happened to pick something off the shelf that I knew a little nugget of wisdom about, I'd ask her something.

I never really gave serious thought to being a preceptor before, but at the end of the summer, she told me that she thinks I'd have a lot to offer as a preceptor and that I should look into it... so I did a little bit.

It's something that I could really see myself doing, and I think I would find it to be very rewarding. I think I have a pretty unique view on retail pharmacy. I recognize that, unfortunate as it may be, it is a business first and foremost. However, just because it's a business, and we have to deal with a ton of bullshit from that perspective, doesn't mean we can't make a difference in people's lives.

Maybe Medication Therapy Management (MTM) is coming soon. Maybe it's not. Regardless, we don't need it to be viewed as professionals. I don't think most of our customers want to make appointments to see their pharmacist. I don't think they really want another person telling them what they should or should not be taking. That's not to say that we shouldn't make suggestions if we feel one is appropriate. However, I don't think that's what they're looking for in their pharmacist.

I think in most cases, your long term and elderly customers just want someone who cares. They want a pharmacist who makes them feel comfortable enough to ask questions. They want a pharmacist that even if he doesn't know the answer to a question right away, he'll go and look it up and get back to them. They want someone they can trust who they view as different from their physician, but still as an expert.

Of course, there are exceptions, but I think these things apply to a good portion of our customers. Therefore, I think this is what pharmacists need to keep in mind when doing their jobs. It's mostly about building trust and showing you care. That's what I would try to pass on to students.

Retail pharmacy is an important job no matter what pharmacy school professors try to say. We are the face of this profession. We deal with more patients on a daily basis than the busiest doctor's office. No, we aren't able to get really in-depth with all of them, but most retail pharmacist know their long time patients pretty well. Hell, I can probably rattle off a med list for about 20 of our customers off the top of my head. These people depend on us, so it's important that they trust us. That trust is what will keep them coming back.... which is good for business.

Anyway... I kind of got side tracked.

I was thinking about how I would set up a rotation for students, and I think had some good ideas. For one, students on my rotation would be doing pretty much all of the counseling. If anyone has a question, the student is the first to answer it (or try to). If someone needs an OTC recommendation, the student will go out in the aisle and help them out.

I wouldn't have much written work, but I think I'd have them to write-ups on some of the more important interactions we spot during the rotation. I might even have them do one drug write-up. I didn't really think about projects (every student is supposed to have one project due at the end of each rotation), but I'm sure the student could do blood pressure screenings, or even help show customers how to use their glucometers more effectively.

You know... I'm still single. I complain about not having much of a life. I think it's time for me to stop my whining and complaining and start being productive. There are a lot more ways to make a difference in this world other than having a girlfriend or getting married. Maybe that will come eventually. Maybe it won't. I can't waste my life waiting for it though.

In any case... Nothing is set yet. I have to do some more planning and figure out if my coworkers would be on board with the idea. After all, I'm not at the store 24/7. My coworkers (both pharmacists and technicians) would have to be accepting of students. I see a few potential issues there, so I want to make sure those are worked out before I dive into this.

There are also some personal concerns that are holding me back a little. I worry that while this is all playing out well in my mind, I won't be able to execute my plan as well as I'm imagining it. After all, I'm not exactly the most outspoken and charismatic person, especially when you first meet me. All things considered though, I think it would be good for me both professionally and personally.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Observations on the Olympics

I haven't posted in a while. Frankly, I don't have much to write about. I've been busy living life to the fullest (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA). No seriously... I've been pretty active recently, so no time or material for the blog. Not that anyone really cares anyway...

I've been watching the Olympics pretty much non-stop for the past couple of weeks, and I have a few observations I'd like to share with you.

First in women's beach volleyball: I got a kick out of their being cheerleaders for women's beach volleyball games. The cheerleaders were were wearing bikinis, and they still had more clothing on than the girls actually playing volleyball. This is another sport that makes an interesting statement about women. Men beach volleyball players have full uniforms (shorts and sleeveless t-shirts). Women beach volleyball players wear tiny bikini bottoms and basically a sports bra. Is there any particular reason these women can't wear shorts? Is it really more comfortable to dive around in sand in a bikini than it is with more clothing on? Of course, the scantily clad (incredibly tall) women are what draw in the viewers.

On the subject of volleyball: I'm convinced that Lebron James would be the greatest volleyball player in history if he ever tried playing. Really... He'd be unstoppable. He's 6'8", jumps incredibly high, and has great quickness in speed. Plus, he's very strong, so one of his spikes would probably be about 90 mph. I dare anyone to get in the way of one of those bullet spikes. How would anyone be able to spike it over or through him? He could get so high that he could practically block or spike the ball with his head. I'm telling you, he'd be the greatest of all time.

Moreover, I'm convinced that if you took the USA men's basketball team and put them on a volleyball court with only about a week to practice, they'd be competitive. Give them a year to practice, and they'd win a gold medal in the sport. Could you imagine that team? Lebron James (6'8"), Kobe Bryant (6'6"), Dwight Howard (6'11"), Chris Bosh (6'10")... All of them are quick and can jump. You could even add Jason Kidd (6'4") to give them all perfect sets to spike the ball. Honestly... Would you bet against that team? Too bad professional volleyball players can't make $15 million per year. Watching those guys dominate volleyball might actually be more fun than watching them play basketball.

Finally, by societal norms I'm obligated to say something about The Golden Boy, Michael Phelps. By now, we've all been convinced that Phelps isn't actually human, but instead a perfectly engineered swimming cyborg. I'll spare you more talk about how great he is (is there anything left to say???). I just want to mention this new term that is being used to describe amazing athletic achievements: Phelpsian. Yesterday, the USA women's volleyball team won their 107th straight match, and the announcer described that accomplishment as Phelpsian.

My prediction... If it hasn't already happened, we're going to get pretty sick of hearing about Michael Phelps. By now, we all know what's on his MP3 player, what and how much he eats every day, how many days per week he trains, how many hours each day he trains, and I'm sure someone somewhere has the schedule which outlines exactly when he can take a shit. Remember folks... This is swimming here. Three weeks ago, no one cared about swimming. Three weeks from now, no one is going to care about swimming... until the 2012 games when the golden cyborg decides to swim for 10 gold medals. Then the hysteria will start again. Let's just give the kid's name a little bit of a break for now so that when he does come into the national spotlight again 4 years from now, we all won't be sick of hearing about him.

I'm currently in the middle of a week off from work, and I'm enjoying my free time immensely. Maybe when I get back to the source of frustration that I call a job, I'll have more to write about.