Time- The Ultimate Commodity

        Have you ever had a moment during the day when you wondered where the day went?  How about sitting on hold with an insurance company desperately waiting for someone to answer on the other end of the line? 

       We live in an era of pharmacy where the demands being placed on us have never been greater.  There just doesn’t seem to be any time to do anything.  Being rushed is the norm, not the exception. 

        Work just seems to be more about rushing through as many jobs as possible instead of doing a select few core functions proficiently.  We’ve become a profession of people without any time left for anything including work. 

         Battling insurance companies, tracking inventory, filing paperwork, and checking for recalls are among the laundry list of duties other than direct patient care we now face as community pharmacists.  And as the profession pushes towards expanding our clinical roles, we may soon find ourselves juggling even more professional duties in the near future. 

        I’ve often been asked about medication therapy management (MTMs) and other advances to the profession of pharmacy.  Do I believe in pharmacist directed patient-centered disease management?  Without a doubt yes!  Do I think the average community pharmacy practice setting offers us opportunities to do these functions effectively?  Unfortunately, no!

        When I was in pharmacy school, I valued knowledge and learning new clinical and professional information above anything else.  I thought gaining experience and professional knowledge was the key to becoming the best pharmacist I could be. 

         But as I began to practice pharmacy in the real world, I realized that there was a commodity much more precious than my own professional knowledge.  The absolute most valuable thing on earth to me as a practicing pharmacist wasn’t my knowledge or even trusting my abilities.  It was having the time to do the things I was trained to do. 

           I realized that it is a huge step to become a certified immunizer.  But it is even more important for me as a pharmacist to have the time necessary to administer those vaccines to patients. 

           I learned that while it is important to have the drug knowledge foundation to catch drug interactions or incorrect dosages it is also important to have enough time to screen for those problems in the first place.  I realized I needed to take breaks and eat during a long shift so fatigue doesn’t become a hindrance to my professional responsibilities. 

            People ask me about the expanding roles of pharmacists as if it is a question of ability.  Instead, I would argue that the primary barriers preventing pharmacists from exploring new professional duties is time. 

            If we legally are blocked from serving patients in a new way, that is a barrier we can’t overcome.  But what is worse is for our profession to win the legal battles necessary and become responsible for a new patient service only to find out we don’t have the time to perform that role we fought so hard to achieve. 

            So please, don’t condemn me for questioning a proposed new role for pharmacists.  I know we are more than capable and many within the profession are willing and able.  That isn’t what is holding us back. 

           In the end, opportunity is what we lack.  We must have the legal foundation to stand on and we must be offered sufficient time to perform any new professional duty.  Time becomes more valuable than anything we could learn.

           It’s really that simple if you think about it.  Everything in the world of pharmacy comes down to the ultimate commodity.  Everything depends on time. 

The Redheaded Pharmacist

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