Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Beauty of Blogs...

I never thought of myself as a writer and a person to express my opinions, but the internet does very strange things.  I consider myself as more of a conservative person who tends to not make his voice none unless the situation calls for it.  When I got out of college, I was all wide eyed and gun-ho about working for a big chain.  The thought in my head was that I can start off as a staff then move up in the ranks and maybe even one day being a DM or something.  Then year after year of working my tail off and engaging with my customers and helping out my local community, I realized it didn't matter how hard you worked and loved you were by the community and those you served.  It was all about the numbers and the area you work in.  It's all about those 2 or 3 people who don't understand how a pharmacy works and are upset by your service who always seem to call and get a survey receipt.  Oh, and they are usually all on anti-depressants and anti-psychotics.

I love reading the blogs because for a time, I thought I was the only one out there who felt the way I did.  The only therapy I had was to call the PIC of the closest store and gripe with him.  I thought that maybe it was just the area I worked in.  Then I discovered the internet blogs and saw it was a worldwide problem, from California to Montana to the United Kingdom.

My goal is to have an outlet to spew my thoughts and to maybe show a fellow pharmacists that they are not alone.  And once in awhile show the random customer that stumbles into my website and show that we do a lot more than just count pills and put them in bottles.  And I also want to give a shoutout to all those other bloggers that do what they do and provide me some much needed laughter and inspiration to get me through my day.  Check them out on my reading list to the right.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Narcotics Like Candy...

I've had the opportunity to work in both a low income urban area and an affluent suburban area.  My first job as a pharmacist was in the urban area.  There, most of the population consisted of low income families on medicaid, old people on medicare, and a predominantly Spanish speaking population from Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.  There, I thought I dispensed a lot of narcotics, and controlled meds, but when I moved and got transferred to a mainly white suburban area, I was completely dumbfounded.

The amount of narcotics I dispensed in that pharmacy was ridiculous.  We had to have 3 safes there just to be able to lock up all that we had in stock.  I figured maybe the amphetamines would be the big seller since doctors nowadays love to throw around the diagnosis of ADHD to anyone that comes through the door.  But the percocets, oxycontins, and roxicodones were being passed out like candy.  People would come in with prescriptions for "chronic intractable pain" and getting quantities of 180 or more.  Seems like everyone and their mother had "chronic intractable pain."  And what was sad was to see young adults and college students come in with those scripts.

My feeling is that the doctors in the urban area seem to have a grip on their practice and are professional about their work and don't give in to what patients say.  They are firm in their belief that they know more than the patient and even though a patient says that they want an antibiotic, these doctors will say no because you are not suffering from any sort of bacterial infection.  In the suburbs, it seems like the patient has more control than the ones that went to medical school and devoted their life to medicine.  They think that just because they did a quick google search, they know what's best for them.  And unfortunately these doctors give in to them because they are quick to post on facebook, twitter, blogs, etc. on how dumb this doctor is because he or she said that they don't need to take XY drug.  And just because you are getting bad grades in school because you can't focus on your work because there is a frat party you'd rather go to or a round of Halo you want to play doesn't mean you need Adderall, it means you need to straighten out your priorities.  I'm all for being responsible for your own healthcare, but let decisions be made by the professionals.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I Love My Job...

I recently went through and read my blog and I've come to see that it may seem as I hate my job.  I'm sure there are people out there reading saying "Why don't you just get a new career?"  Well, it's because I love my job.  I couldn't imagine myself anything other than a pharmacist (maybe other than a professional baseball player).

I remember as a young one, going with my mother to the local pharmacy and feeling like it was a store that had all that I ever wanted.  There was cool pens, little keychains, trapper keepers, small gifts, and best of all, loads of candy.  It wasn't until later that I learned what the pharmacy was actually there for.  And I was fascinated by the concept of taking a pill and it working throughout the body and actually find the purpose it was intended for.  When I was in high school, I finally got my first job as a pharmacy tech.  I worked in an independent store and my experience there validated my desire to become a pharmacist.  I worked as I saw people come in day after day and get their medications, all the while answering the countless questions people asked.  Back in those days, the profession of pharmacy was ranked #1 as the most trusted professional year after year.

Now, as a pharmacist, I live for helping people.  I enjoy filling scripts and making sure everything is in line.  I also enjoy the consultations most of all.  I'm honored that people come and ask me questions and consider me an expert in what I do.  In my mind I always think of the saying that if you love what you do, then you will never work a day in your life.  I feel that as a pharmacist, I haven't worked a day yet.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sick Days....

It's days like today where I wish I didn't work in the healthcare field.  I am here at work, sick as a dog, and can't leave.  It's not because I am the owner and sole pharmacist of my store, it's because I'm a pharmacist.  I did my fair share of rounds at a chain.  I was pharmacist in charge at a high volume store in an urban area at one point of my career.  But it's the same there too.  Let me paint a picture...

The night before I work, I start feeling achy, feverish, stuffy, coughing, sneezing, runny, pretty much everything imaginable.  I call my district manager/supervisor and let them know what I'm feeling and tell them that I'm not sure if I can work tomorrow.  Then he/she tells me that they are going to call around and see if they can find me coverage, but, if they don't call me back to let me know, then assume that no coverage was found and go into work anyway.  So I go to bed with no call back and sleep for about 2 hours because of my sickness.  I get into work and call my supervisor again and say that I'm dying out there that I can't work these 14 hours I'm scheduled to work.  He/she tells me that they will make some phone calls and maybe I can get out of work early.  A little hope sparks me.  I work and work and work, checking prescriptions, sneezing in pill bottles, and giving flu shots.  Minutes turn to hours and next thing you know, I've been working for 13 and 1/2 hours already.  I close the pharmacy and about 10:30 and drive my 35 minute commute.  After getting home and showering, I get to bed close to midnight.  Time to go to sleep and do this all again tomorrow.

Unfortunately, that's reality for pharmacists.  I'm sick now, but like I said earlier, I run my own store, so being sick is not so much of a big deal now.  I suck it up and fill my scripts, as many as I can.  And there's the benefit of not working 14 hours.

Feel free to leave a comment...

Friday, April 5, 2013

Mandatory Mail Order...

This post is in response to something I found on the NCPA website.  Here is the link...

Mail Order Waste

Basically, it's a series of photos that pharmacists and patients took of their medications that were sent through mail order.  For whatever reason, be it the unfortunate death of a loved one or just simply the doctor saying that the medication was no longer needed, people received a 3 month supply of the drug in order to "save" money.  Therefore, many boxes and of unused medication pretty much goes in the trash.

For those of you not in the pharmacy profession, you are probably saying they should just send it back and get a refund or part of their money back.  However, the rule usually is, once a medication leaves the pharmacy and is paid for, if you return it for whatever reason, we are NOT allowed to resell that drug.  So if you bring it back to us, it's going in our trash.

These mandatory mail order programs and specialty drug mailings are marketed as a way to save the patient some money.  What it actually is doing is making more profit for the insurance companies.  They tell pharmacists like myself, who owns his own business, that we can't fill your medication, even if you prefer the hassle of walking or driving to your local pharmacy.  And for specialty medications, which normally are crazy expensive, can't be filled in my store, so I lose a potential $5000 check in my bank account.

I believe people should have a choice.  If your choice is to get your drugs through mail, then I'm not going to complain, just like I don't complain if you choose to go to Walmart to fill you scripts.  But the fact that it's mandatory and because it's insurance from your job, you don't really have a choice to switch insurances either.  I've talked to way too many former business owners that had to close their doors because of this.  It's a shame.  This is America, give the patient the freedom of choice!

Monday, April 1, 2013

No More Shortage...

I've been asked by many people, either on the internet, customers, or prospective students if there still is a demand for pharmacists.  When I was applying to schools, I remember people sending me articles of how different pharmacists were receiving ridiculous signing bonuses or even given cars to sign on with the big chains for 1 or 2 years.  Then when it was time for my graduation and my job hunt began, I was offered just 1 signing bonus from a chain to work for them for 1 year.  Now I talk to interns working as techs who are reaching their time and they the time of incentives is pretty much over.  It seems as if that shortage of pharmacists is over.

Personally speaking, I left my job at one chain because of the way I was being treated by the management.  I don't know if it was my district or company wide, but I got fed up of being treated as a robot who eats, sleeps, and talks company propaganda bull.  It took my about 10 months to actually find a full time job as a staff pharmacist.  I was able to make a living by working about 25 to 35 hours a week as a floater for independent pharmacies.

This seems due to the overwhelming increase in the number of pharmacy schools opening.  Every time I look around, there is a college or university now offering pharmacy as one of their majors.  When applying to colleges, everyone applied to a number of schools and always applied to one that was a guaranteed acceptance because they accepted everyone who applied.  These safe schools, or joke schools, are opening up their own pharmacy programs.  We need to treat pharmacy just like medical school is treated; it needs to be difficult to get into.  These graduates are responsible for people's lives.

I also see a trend in the chains that even though we are filling more prescriptions than ever and they are opening up new stores all the time, they somehow are more concerned with cutting hours and taking away overlap to make more profit when pharmacists are dying out there on the bench.  It seems like the highest number of jobs would be as teachers.  And it looks like the only thing that might be good about Obamacare will be the possible increase in pharmacy jobs due to everyone getting healthcare.