No Guarantees

       “Can you guarantee that medication will be in on Thursday?”  The patient asked sternly.  I wished I had a guarantee to offer him. 

       “No, the medication is ordered but I can’t guarantee it will come in” I responded.  These days with recalls, back-orders, and out of stocks it would be foolish to give a patient any kind of guarantee. 

       It seems like that is a general rule for the profession of pharmacy and for life.  Guarantees are hard to come by in this era of high unemployment and uncertainty.  And I am learning that pharmacy is not immune from this uncertainty.

       Early in my career I almost thought that a job was a given.  Years of hard work and a pharmacy license ensured I would be employed for as long as I want right?  Well, it doesn’t exactly work that way in the real world does it? 

       These days the pharmacist shortage has swung into a full fledged surplus.  More pharmacy schools are graduating new pharmacists who have mounds of debt and an eagerness to join the profession and the workforce.

       But as the economy continues to be slow, pharmacists are finding out that a job is not a guarantee.  But really, employment never was promised to any of us simply because we are pharmacists.

       It’s so easy to get wrapped up in your own set of security blankets.  And pharmacy can easily become one of those blankets you rely on at least financially.  But life has a way of surprising us at times.  And our work dynamic is an ever evolving entity that guarantees nothing. 

       I’ve realized that I can’t control corporate politics, major shifts in the profession, or what happens with my state board of pharmacy.  That doesn’t mean I am hopeless to influence change.  But it does mean there are lots of things I can’t control. 

       Pharmacies open and close.  People quit, get fired, move away, or otherwise alter your work environment.  The reality of where you work and who you work with is constantly changing.  And I have learned that I must accept this uncertainty rather than fight it. 

       I don’t know where I will be or what kind of job I will have in 5 years.  Things have never been more volatile within the profession of pharmacy than they are right now.  Change can come swiftly. 

       All I do know is that I am proud to have the letters RPH behind my name.  I am blessed to be married to a wonderful person who loves me.  And I am thankful for the job I did today even if I am not promised any tomorrows. 

       Life doesn’t afford us many guarantees.  And the ones you can count on aren’t the type of things to look forward to. 

       The profession of pharmacy is no better at providing us absolutes.  All the letters in the world behind your name won’t grant you a guaranteed job for life.  And even if you are lucky enough to stay employed, things will change somehow. 

       I’m very thankful for the years I’ve been a pharmacist.  I sure hope I can continue to be a pharmacist for a long time.  Nothing though is set in stone.  And just like that customer waiting for a prescription order, there are no guarantees that it or anything else is coming soon. 

The Redheaded Pharmacist

5 Comments to “No Guarantees”

  1. By meaty87, November 15, 2012 @ 11:25 pm

    Agreed. I’m only in my 2nd year of pharmacy school right now, and the future starts to look worse and worse every month. When I decided to go to pharmacy school, I knew that I was absolutely making the right choice. With each late night I spend studying, I’m not so sure it was a good choice anymore. I got a bachelor’s degree in biology, and decided to go to pharmacy school because there is literally nothing you can do with a bachelors in biology except go to more school. I’m really hoping the same thing doesn’t happen with my pharmacy degree.


  2. By PharmacyJim, November 15, 2012 @ 11:54 pm

    I have been working in this profession since 1980, and I’ve never had to work as hard as I have in the last couple of years to keep medications in stock. It is an everyday thing, and that is with our wholesaler having autosub in place. And it is both brand and generic that are out of stock. My guess is it will not get better any time soon. The economy affects drug companies too, I guess.

    I echo what you said about being proud to be a pharmacist, and I am thankful for my job…..some days more than others, of course. I, too, am thankful for my wife and children.

    As far as change, one thing I try to do is try to make my little corner of the world a better place for those around me.


  3. By Wrong Aid, November 17, 2012 @ 11:05 am


    I’ll say this. If I could go back in time to my second year in school I would quit. This profession isn’t what it was and in my opinion will never be again. My only realistic hope at this point in my career is that the job continues to pay well until I retire. I’m embarrassed to be an RPh and humiliated to be part of a chain pharmacy. If getting out is not an option then for gods sake don’t allow retail to be one.


  4. By Lk, November 17, 2012 @ 9:44 pm

    I worked so hard to get to the point where I can apply to pharmacy school.
    I got a biochemistry degree. Worked my ass off and scored a 99 percentile on my pcat. And now this is what I hear everywhere, “don’t do pharmacy.” What the hell am I supposed to do? Reject my interviews and do something else?


  5. By Wrong Aid, November 19, 2012 @ 9:12 am

    Food for thought LK. The MCAT is nearly the same as the PCAT. If you got in the 99th on the PCAT expect similar on the MCAT. May not be you cup of tea but the options are limitless if you go that route.


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