Observations From Behind The Counter

        There are a few things I’ve noticed over the years working behind the counter as a pharmacist.  Here are a few observations of mine.

        1.  The people that know the least about what it takes to be a pharmacist are the very ones that either try to tell us how to do our jobs or dismiss us as un-necessary.  Pharmacists are more often than not taking orders from people who have never filled a prescription. 

        2.  The more expensive or unusual the special order request, the less likely a patient will actually come to pick up the product.  This is something I’ve noticed my entire career. 

        3.  People who have the most are often the ones who are the loudest complainers and whiners.  Those with legitimate issues, problems, and concerns are less likely to be guilty of over-reacting. 

        4.  It is unreasonable to expect a building that has a healthcare professional on the inside to have a drive-thru window attached to the outside.  There are some things that are simply worth getting out of your vehicle to pick up.  Prescription medications are on that list. 

        5.  If community pharmacy employers cared half as much about their patients as they did for metrics or profits, we’d have the happiest customers on the planet.  The reality is that for many pharmacy owners and operators, patients are simply numbers on a page. 

        6.  Standing up for yourself is worth your time and effort.  Just because someone is on the other side of a pharmacy counter doesn’t mean they have a right to say or do anything.  Allowing bad behavior simply encourages more bad behavior. 

        7.    There is a direct relationship between the percentage of prescriptions that are out of stock and a pharmacy’s inventory levels.  If you try to cut one too much, the other will inevitably go up as a result. 

        8.   Lunch should never be optional.  We are human beings, not robots.  We need to take breaks and eat something at some point during our workday.  Sadly, this isn’t always possible.

        9.  Nothing of value has ever ended up on a value menu.  If pharmacists are to be valued for our professional activities and expert knowledge, then the $4 generic list is a questionable business practice rather than a brilliant marketing campaign.   

       10.  No one else will look out for the profession of pharmacy.   Waiting for professional organizations, alumni associations, colleagues, or politicians to look out for you will not yield results.   Fight for your own rights.  The fear of losing a job is not an excuse against action. 

       11.  The Boards of Pharmacy in the U.S. are a reactionary group.  If members of the public become injured, they will investigate after the fact.  But if concerns are raised ahead of time, they are often met with deaf ears.  Why wait for the crisis and the resulting damage control and blame game?  How about proactively preventing harm in the first place? 

       12.  Staying informed with developments in the profession is important.  Everyone should be keeping up with current events and news.  An informed profession is a healthy profession.

       13.  We have a mental health crisis and a drug abuse epidemic.  The two problems are related and pharmacists are exposed to both on a regular basis.

       14.  Being a pharmacist isn’t easy.  We deal with lots of problems everyday and we are expected to be perfect.  It’s a tall order for anyone to undertake. 

        Those are just a few observations I’ve noticed during my time as a pharmacist.  Take them at face value from a guy who has spent his fair share of time behind the counter of a pharmacy. 

The Redheaded Pharmacist

5 Comments to “Observations From Behind The Counter”

  1. By LDPlaceboeffect, November 12, 2012 @ 11:45 am

    Yep. BTDT (Been there, done that, have the T-shirt, etc.)

    However inevitable, and cold comfort, indeed if after the fact if we’re on the road to demise, but it’s an ill wind, indeed, that blows no good. We are the professionals. No matter what. Some of our more knowledgeable patients are very aware of our benefit to society. I live for those moments.

    When the patient at the counter looks at me as I hold her prescription from an ER doctor in nearly illegible shorthand for an antibiotic not often prescribed and ask the patients, “so what are you allergic to? and in questioning find out that the doctor failed to ascertain she was on a seriously interacting medication in his haste to prescribe a drug for which she was not allergic, or the patient in the hospital bed looks at me as the doctor stands there with his clipboard and says, “may we have a pharmacy consult on the antibiotics and dosing to cover empiric immuno-compromised community-acquired pneumonia for an exacerbation of COPD?”, or “may we have a pharmacy consult on this little one’s dosing for bacterial pneumonia?”, or “I think we need a pain control pharmacy consult”, or “may you please take over care of this patient’s anticoagulation therapy?”, or “what do we have on formulary for this therapy?” or the patient calls in the middle of a busy Tuesday morning, “I was thinking of requesting a refill on my heart medicine, but I don’t know if it’s working, as I’m still have pains”, or “the patient lists these drug for seizure control, but something doesn’t look right, may you please help us out here?” et cetera

    It’s my job. It’s what I’ve trained to do. And, I will be of help because I know ‘that stuff’.

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  2. By pharmacygal, November 12, 2012 @ 6:26 pm

    Put me in the “been there, done that” category as well. I usually gave my customers some slack because they most likely were not feeling well. Pharmacy is a very hard job. I can’t imagine physicians putting up with half the BS we put up with on a daily basis. I was lucky enough to work behind the counter when customers called pharmacists “Doc” and took every recommendation we made as gospel. Mail order pharmacy changed all that.

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  3. By Mike, November 14, 2012 @ 12:26 am

    I saw a person call one of our pharmacists “Doc” just the other day. It was the same person complaining about the RPH taking too long at drive through when counseling a patient. Apparently no more than 1 minute is allowed in the express lane. I didn’t realize we had an express lane….

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  4. By Frantic Pharmacist, November 18, 2012 @ 1:17 pm

    AMEN to every single one on that list!

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  5. By Chris, February 15, 2014 @ 6:39 pm

    Nice job with the list!

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