It all started with an email I received from another pharmacist. That email left me wondering about questions I felt I couldn’t answer.
Someone who has been a pharmacist for a lot longer than I have sent me an email with some comments and questions about the state of our profession. His concerns and frustrations have been echoed here and elsewhere by many other pharmacists.
He wrote about the idea of the unionization of pharmacists and his personal reservations with unionizing. But he did mention that something needed to be done.
He also voiced his frustration with the organizations that represent our profession. He said that we needed to unite in some meaningful way as pharmacists. Sound familiar? It should.
I sat on this email for several days without responding. I didn’t know what I could say. I felt a lot of the same concerns he did. And sadly, I have fewer answers than questions.
I showed the email to my wife and I told her I didn’t know how to respond. “What do I need to tell him?” I asked the question as if I was completely lost. In some ways, I am.
She looked at what this pharmacist wrote and then she said to me “sometimes, you just have to get angry!” She knows my frustations. She knows the challenges I face at work. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Her comment got me thinking. Anger is a good motivator. It spurs action like no other human emotion.
The problem with anger is that it can lead to irrational behavior. We don’t need irrational behavior pushing our profession forward. We need organized and thoughful responses to any problem we might face.
Sometimes it does seem like the organizations that are supposed to have our backs don’t really care or are focused on non-essential issues. They want to push us towards the future. But sometimes we just need help with the present.
I’ve explained before that I don’t think unionization is the answer for the profession of pharmacy. I won’t bore you with my reasoning. Let’s just assume I’d vote no if it came to that.
But the fact that so many pharmacists entertain the idea tells me something is wrong. Power and control are important. And many pharmacists feel like they’ve lost both at work.
I also think the big organizations like the APhA do more for our behalf than they get credit. But having said that, couldn’t they do more? Couldn’t they voice our concerns a little louder?
I think a code of conduct for retail pharmacy operators is in order. It could include a basic set of standards for working conditions, staffing, and expectations. The big organizations could become involved in this.
But we all as individual pharmacists need to get more involved ourselves. And that might even include joining the organizations that we sometimes question. They can’t be expected to be the strong voice we need if we aren’t there to support them.
I’d also lean harder on politicians. Like it or not, they have power. And if they don’t understand how bad working conditions in retail pharmacies might endanger the public, they won’t be pressed to address the issue.
I don’t know exactly what it’s going to take to make things better for the profession of pharmacy. I do know that something needs to be done.
As my wife said “sometimes, you just have to get angry.” For many of us, that time has already arrived. The question then remains: what are you going to do about it?
The Redheaded Pharmacist