Monday, June 3, 2013

What's My Motivation, Here?

Pharmacists are all highly self-motivated and hyper-responsible. You don't get through pharmacy school by not pushing yourself. Even the brainiacs had to buckle down at exam time. My next door neighbor was a big loveable goofball of a guy who had a photographic memory. When he had to study for a test, he sat the book and notes on his coffee table, looked at them for a minute, then paced to the front door and back. Then he would move on to the next page, and so on. Most of the time there was a Cubs game on the t.v..
Finals week, a bunch of us would hop in the car together and drive in to campus to take exams. This guy's routine was to put "Chain" by Fleetwood Mac on the stereo, do a crazy, frenzied dance at the end of the song, and off we went. I stalked him on the internet recently, and found out he is now an anesthesiologist in Connecticut. Boy, what a dummy :).

Every day I have to face a day of work in a pharmacy, I have to find a motivation. I am sure everybody has that, no matter what they do for a living. I think the thing about my job is that I hold people's lives in my hands every day. That is a daunting responsibility, and not one of us takes it lightly. What you see happening externally behind the counter is nothing compared to what is going on in our heads. Granted, it's not like an episode of ER in there. I found out I couldn't handle that kind of pressure after 3 years in hospital. When they started talking about sending us on code blues, I had to move on. God bless the people who can do that, I'm glad they can.

But I guess what I am trying to say is that I can't go in to work without mentally and physically preparing myself. There is no such thing as "dogging it'' in retail pharmacy. On days when I have been especially tired or was sick, I have told myself I was going to take it easy that day, but that never happens, because ''there are no gray areas in pharmacy''. It's black and white, either it is right or it is wrong.

It's not just the medication part of the job, either. We get most of our complaints about insurance problems, prices, and delayed prescriptions. And also about coupons that don't scan, or items out front that are not properly marked. We are also supposed to remember to answer the phone with the advertising phrase of the month, promote prescription transfers, flavorings, immunizations, and charity donations (''would you like to buy a shoe for juvenile diabetes?''), and whatever else they come up with to make a buck. What they don't seem to understand is that we are TRYING NOT TO KILL SOMEBODY TODAY and we really don't give a flying frick about any of the rest of it. We just can't. I know myself and what I am here for. Success as measured by their standards just doesn't get it anymore. Actually, it never really did, if you want to know the truth. And patients are smart enough to see through all the artificial crap anyway. They know the chains are not their friends, anymore than they are the pharmacists friends, but hopefully their pharmacist is somebody they can trust to look out for them.

In one of our pharmacy meetings, the DM actually said that what we do is not that hard. Anybody can look at a pill and compare it to the picture on the label. Needless to say, he is neither a pharmacist, nor my favorite person in the world. Unfortunately what I and my fellow pharmacists do can't be accomplished by schmoozing and bullshitting, or by adjusting numbers on a paper.

The buck stops here, and it has to be right.


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