Sunday, January 25, 2009

Staying Put

I decided to stay in retail. I thought long and hard about it. I actually made a list on the positives and negatives for each choice. In the end, I couldn't do it.

Here's the thing. I just don't like hospitals. I don't like the environment. I don't get all tingly with the thought of working side by side with doctors and nurses. Honestly... I don't care much for the health care profession as a whole. That's the beautiful thing about retail pharmacy. You can be in a health care profession without actually doing any health care stuff. Yes, I dispense medication to people. Yes, I counsel them and happily answer any questions I'm asked regarding medications or common disease states. That's the extent of it though, and that's what I'm happy with.

Working with the public is both the best and worst part of my job. A lot of retail pharmacists complain about all the stupid things they get asked and the customers with bad attitudes. For the most part, I don't care about that stuff. Maybe it's because I work in a nice area, so I'm not presented with the same sort of challenges other pharmacists are. I'm sure that's part of it, but I think I have a different attitude than most pharmacists toward the job in general.

I hear all the time that we're too well educated to be spending all day on the phone with insurance companies and directing customers to the bathroom. Maybe that's true. I do only use maybe 10% of what I learned in school in my job. However, I'd like to think that my education and my intelligence is what makes me good at my job. Just because I can do something more intellectually challenging does not mean I'm obligated to do so. Why can't I just do something a little less intellectually challenging but use my intellect to do it better than others?

I actually enjoy solving insurance problems. I actually get a lot of satisfaction from stepping out from behind the counter to show a little old lady to a bottle of Tylenol. I actually like interacting with the customers... even the angry ones. I view an enraged customer as a challenge to see if I can manage the situation. This is what makes my job interesting.

Perhaps the thing I dislike the most about retail is dealing with the other health care professionals. I freaking hate calling doctors' offices for the 9,000th time about a prescription that the doctor wrote incorrectly. I hate doctors with god complexes. I hate making a recommendation that I know will help the patient only to have the doctor ignore or ridicule me. Therefore, the whole clinical aspect of my profession really doesn't thrill me at all.

Basically, the only reason I was even interested in that clinical position was a way to be a step ahead of a possible future collapse of retail pharmacy. I figured that if retail someday dries up, I'll have already moved onto a clinical environment, and this would ensure my long term success. That's really it. It had nothing to do with dissatisfaction in my current job. It had nothing to do with an overwhelming desire to use my extensive clinical knowledge. It was just a concern over something that may or may not happen some time in the near or not-so-near future.

I'm not a psychic. I have no idea how things will play out in the future, so it's stupid to leave a good job that I like because of something that might possibly happen some day. Moreover, I'd be going to a job I don't really like at all. I'd be trading in happiness for long term stability. I feel like I've spent my whole life doing just that. Maybe it's time to live in the moment for once. Maybe it's time to just do what makes me happy and not worry about what's 5 or 10 years down the road.

When I look at it that way, it makes absolutely no sense for me to take that clinical job. Therefore, I'll be staying in retail, hopefully in my current position, for as long as I can. If some day retail jobs start to vanish, then maybe I'll look into somehow getting into hospital. If that's not possible, fuck it; I'll do something else even if it's not related to pharmacy at all. Flexibility is the beauty of being single. I can move. I can change careers. I can take a pay cut without worrying about anyone else but myself.

Anyway... that's the update. Pharmacy Mike will remain Retail Pharmacy Mike.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for being you, Retail Pharmacy Mike! We all need to hear what's going on in the minds of reflective people--though, pretty much, we all are. Maybe, sometime or another, it'll be time to rethink another opportunity, and things will be the same or changed. In any case, it's nice to know you've chosen to be that particular pharmacist right where you are!

jennifur said...

we need more pharmacists like you mike! im glad you dont think retail is horrible like so many other pharmacists do. im glad you're not taking a big risk for a "what-if" situation that may never happen, for all we know. and i do agree that hospital work may be just slightly overrated.

Anonymous said...

Or you can switch to Wally World. They are taking over everything anyway ;-)

Anonymous said...

I didn't comment on the "Opportunity" post because I'm not a pharmacist, I'm an accountant. However, I faced a similar decision a few years ago and came to the same place. I like my current job and I just couldn't give it up for the opportunity for future advancement. Happiness right now is worth a lot. Good luck!

Frantic Pharmacist said...

I think you made the right choice. Job satisfaction is a precious thing to hang onto.

PS; I just wrote a post on my blog about the differences between hospital and retail, if you want to check it out. I think it will confirm your choice.

Anonymous said...

Can I be your partner when I graduate?? Seriously, I think I could have written some of your post. Sometimes I really get tired of my fellow students' attitude when I say I'm probably going into community pharmacy.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to you, Mike. I hate mail order pharmacy! I want to talk w/my pharmacist. I want my pharmacist to tell me about potential problems (e.g. Li and NSAIDs don't mix well). Although I despise Walgreens, they're a decent PBM - I can get 90 day fills at my local non-Walgreens pharmacy for the same copay as mail order, with no mail order hassles.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,

I am a current college student thinking about possibly going to pharmacy school. I am also currently working at Walgreens Pharmacy as a Tech which might hopefully help my resume' when applying.

Is there any advise you can give me about pharmacy school?