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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Employee Surveys

How many of us have been asked over our careers to complete Employee Satisfaction Surveys?
I'd much prefer them if they were called "What You Really Think About Corporate" Surveys.
Whether you're in the hospital or retail setting, does anyone believe management is looking to make changes based solely on employees filling out biased surveys? Shouldn't they have something to do with, oh I don't know, The Practice of Pharmacy?
They tell you your responses are anonymous. They expect you'll be honest.

Anonymous? Honest? Does any employee really believe that?
Why don't they ask the questions you want to answer? They only ask questions that have answers they want to hear.
Opinions? The free space for Comments?

I believe we should be able to submit them online.
We could leave comments as if we are reviewing a recent Amazon purchase:

Two Stars
"My problem is that The Company continues to see our patrons as Customers instead of Patients. This basic philosophy is misguided and will only continue to propagate a disconnect between employees and those we are trying to serve."
(There is currently a lawsuit involving Rite Aid and this very verbiage.)

One Star (Because I couldn't give Zero)
"You cannot continue to require employees to perform more tasks, more time-consuming tasks, while also whittling away their hours of help. Increasing hours allows for shorter wait times, quicker turnarounds, more time spent on each task, a reduction in errors, happier customers, improved Patient Satisfaction Scores, and increased profitability for the store. It is quite obvious that your method of reducing hours while asking us to accomplish all of this is not working."

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Now What?

"Who are you? Where do you come from? What do you wanna do with your life?"

Congratulations! You made it. You graduated. Cram for those boards and your license is on its way. 
You earned it. You worked hard and you deserve this.
That was the easy part. 

Now you're going to work even harder and the sense of accomplishment will not be quite as satisfying. 
College was great. The Real World has something else in store for you. 
I ask: What are YOU going to do about it?

To all the new grads: Do you think RPh's, interns, and techs work hard? Do you think we deserve breaks and lunches at appropriate times? Are you tired of corporate pushing and pushing? Now that YOU are the actual RPh, what are you going to do about it? What can we all do about it? I have seen several RPhs go into the management sector because they were tired of how hard they had to work, yet they kept up the "same-old same-old". It seems that chain pharmacies have become the "new WalMart", and the only thing that will change this attitude is a big lawsuit. What can we all do to change the way we work? What about what you've seen on rotation in hospitals? 

Will you join the rank-and-file who continue to let other groups tell us what to do? 
Will you speak up and be heard? Or will you keep your head down because you have loans to repay?
Will you be The One who takes all of the splinter Pharmacy Groups and unites them under one banner, championing our professional cause? 

"We're not going to take it. No! We aren't going to take it. We're not going to take it, anymore!"

Monday, May 19, 2014

Its' Not Supposed to Be Like This

I received a complaint. Let me explain. No. It is too long. Let me sum up...

Lady presents a prescription for Vicodin 5/500. (Hasn't been made for 5 months. Memos went out in November 2012 about the withdrawal of this product.)

Very Patient Lady: I know this is wrong but here's what happened. My husband had this same Rx last month. I told my doctor as she was writing this that is was wrong. I told her it needed fixed. I told her they don't make it anymore. Do you know what she said?
CP: I am curious.
VPL: "That's okay. The pharmacist will call."
CP: Curious, indeed. She's right. I am going to call.

Office Nurse: How may I help you?
CP: I need to talk to Prescriber Person about an incorrect prescription.
ON: I am sorry, PP is out of the office today.
CP: Of course she is. It is Monday at 9:15am. Can no one else help me?
ON: Her assistant is out on vacation too.
CP: Okay. I wish to register a complaint. (I explained the circumstances surrounding my call.) It is not my job to call on this. The prescriber has had ample time to get with the program. The patient even brought it to her attention. Instead, here is where we are. You have to take a message. I have been timing the amount of my time and your time being wasted because your physician said "the pharmacist will call". So far we are at 5 minutes. You just told me PP is out of the office. Her assistant is out too. This means my patient won't get her medication until tomorrow. Why? All because PP was too lazy to learn her job and fix the problem immediately. It would have taken 4-7 seconds to scribble out the "500" and replace it with "300" and scrawl her initials on it. That is lazy, ignorant, and unprofessional.
I wish for someone to call me back regarding my complaint.

(In all fairness, this assistant knew the rules and we never have issues with her or her physician.)

Instead of getting an apology, I got a complaint. Pharmacists can complain to an office manager and what happens? Nothing. The prescriber likely doesn't see it or they laugh about it. If an office chooses to complain about a pharmacist, we get written up, we get dinged on "customer satisfaction surveys" even though they aren't even customers, we get a target on our backs from the powers-that-be.

This is a situation no other profession has to face. Worst of all, we have to face it from OTHER PROFESSIONALS!

It's time to put a stop to this disparity.


Monday, May 12, 2014


...that's what you are...

I try to stay off naughty lists, especially Santa's and Corporate's. Every business, office, pharmacy has one though it may not exist in print. I hope I am never a customer who makes another company's list. I don't aspire to be memorable in a negative way. When we think of names throughout history, the first thing that comes to mind is their lasting impact; their contributions to history whether good or bad.

Our list usually involves our MOPs (Most Offensive Patients). Why do they seek to make a name for themselves in this way? The sight of their names on our computer screen is often enough to send employees into panic attacks. Cue eye-rolling as soon as their voice is heard on the other end of the call.

With these patients, you know you're in for a rollicking good time...and a trip to the liquor store on your way out the door.

I understand people are sick. I understand they have health issues. I understand they had to wait for hours at the prescriber's office or the ER.
What I do not understand is the need to be a belligerent Ass Baggins to those who are trying to help you. There is no reason for it. There is nothing you could have done in your life that gives you license to be an Ass Baggins (aka Kanye West). You are no more important than anyone else. Get in line, wait your turn, and come back when we tell you...and quit calling to complain every 15 minutes. The same staff are here and we all know how many times you've called today.

If nothing else, retail pharmacy really opens your eyes to how people treat other people. When I am a customer at any other retail business, it is sometimes painful to watch how the employees are treated.
In other countries, they have a mandatory military requirement. I believe we should have a mandatory retail requirement. Everyone, in order to graduate high school or enter college, should be required to work retail for 2 years.

Friday, May 9, 2014

New Pharmacy Ideas

I was walking through the hospital today and my mind jumped a bit when I noticed the lovely drop-off window. It was the only indicator that a pharmacy was hidden behind the dull, art-covered walls. I like this idea. I think all retail outlets should adopt this. But as you know, they won't. I have room to improve the idea.

I picture a movie theatre ticket window. The ones that have the little speaker cut right in the middle of it. We'd have a prescription booth out front. Patients would walk up to the window, say "two please" and slide their prescriptions under the glass. The "prescription taker" would then verify your information, scan in your insurance card, and send the prescriptions to the pharmacists in the back via pneumatic tube.

While you are waiting, you could visit the lobby.
Even better idea? Put a pharmacy IN a movie theatre! Drop off your prescriptions, get movie tickets, enjoy a show, pick them up as you exit through the gift shop which we will put in to market movie tie-ins and drugs! Brilliant!

We'd have to work on the concession stand though. No traditional movie fare to be found here. We can't be irresponsible and offer candy and popcorn and nachos and pop/soda. (That'd be like chain pharmacies selling cigarettes and having a candy section in front of the pharmacy. Wait. They do that?)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Wonky Labels

Nothing good comes after: "I wish to register a complaint. I need to speak to the manager".

Label Lady: Do you have new people working down there?
CP: Not really.
LL: Is that dashing manager there today?
CP: Nope. You're stuck with me. How may I help?
LL: My labels were all wrong.
CP: Sorry?
LL: They were on all weird. I save them and take them off and put them on other bottles and couldn't get these off and they ripped and they came out of the bag all weird and stuck together and I need to put them on another shelf up high where any kids who come in my house can't reach them and now they won't fit and I can't keep the labels to call in the refills and my system is all screwed up and...
CP: Breathe! Are the labels on the correct bottles?
LL: Yes.
CP: But you peel them off and put them on smaller bottles?
LL: Yes.
CP: So we labeled the giant stock bottles?
LL: Yes. But that other wonderful pharmacist has always taken of me. He always labels them perfectly and I have never had a problem in all my years coming there when he is working and carefully labels all my bottles. They come right off. I don't know what I'm going to do now. My whole system won't work.
CP: Ma'am, I can pretty much guarantee that he never personally labeled 93.2% of your bottles over the last many years you have been coming here.
LL: I've been coming there since we owned our house right across the street. Do you have interns there?
CP: Yes. We love having students.
LL: That must be it.
CP: Of course. Well they do have to learn somewhere. We can't teach them everything about the profession in little rotations. Surprisingly, this is the first time in my career that any patient has ever complained about how their labels were placed on their bottle.
LL: (laughing) Really?
CP: Yes. And that wasn't a compliment. Seriously. I am guessing what happened is that we normally tape the stock bottle before placing our labels. This way they will peel right off if we return them to stock. Since you always get these, or since we have students, this step may have been missed.
LL: I keep a folder of them and they ripped. What do I do now?
CP: Ask for smaller bottles?
LL: But I'll need like 10 of them for each medication. Can't you just put a note in my file about how I like them labeled?
CP: Sure. With over 500 prescriptions filled each day and over a dozen employees on the payroll, I'm sure we will always see the note about how you like each bottle labeled. As long as you get the right drug in the right bottle with the right label and there are no other issues, I am happy. How about you just call us ahead of time and we will see if we can accommodate your request with each refill?
LL: Well that awesome manager always takes of me.
CP: Yes. We like him too. From now on, call to ask if he is working when you need your refill. This way, we can guarantee that he will personally enter, fill, count, label, check, and bag each of your prescriptions.
LL: You can do that?
CP: No. But he'll get a kick out of that phone call.

Monday, May 5, 2014


I know people suffer from terrible maladies. Cutting is a serious disorder that needs immediate attention.  After all, cutting is a true cry for attention.
Pharmacy is being overrun by cutters. With the new prescriptions being issued on full sheets of paper, people find them too bulky and cumbersome to simply fold. They feel an urge to cut.
The problem is prescribers prefer to put multiple prescriptions on one sheet. This is acceptable, as long as each has its own heading and signature.
But patients like to cut them.
And never at the obvious separation of the two; below the signature. The always cut the page directly in half. Why?
When the law requires for a prescription to be valid, the address and phone number of the prescriber on each prescription, lopping it off renders in invalid. Simple.
Despite repeated warnings to patients to not tamper with a legal document, we have habitual offenders. We need to stop coddling these patients. I know many out there will say something like "You're supposed to care for your patients", or "why can't you just call the prescriber", or "You're just a bitch!".

Right. How about the simpler alternative: The patient doesn't cut their prescriptions? Simple. It is the mollycoddling of patients and doing everything for them that brought our profession down to the dregs of healthcare. I understand no one likes to hear "no". Too bad.
When I explain to them, like a naughty puppy that they did something bad, they stare down. They stare at the counter with the look of shame of a child who got in trouble.
"Why did you cut your sister's hair?"
"I don't know."
"She made me do it."

Yet they continue to do it. Why? Because we allow it. Just like everything else. No one can take advantage of you unless you allow it to happen. Is this petty? No.

Thursday, May 1, 2014


Businesses that pay based on commission annoy the crap out of me. I hate the feeling of being hounded/followed/watched/spied upon while trying to buy furniture or a car. I know how to shop. I know how to ask for help when I need it. Get away from me. I see you hiding behind the faux fern.

That being said, I think the next evolution in corporate pharmacy should come from paying bonuses on commission. They want us to push vaccinations and perform MTMs. I say pay us on commission. The more we do, the higher percentage we get. The more expensive the medicine, the higher our bonus. For the longest time, I was the only pharmacist who administered immunizations and pushed Zostavax in my area.

Corporations advertise the hell out of our services. Today, everyone offers the same services. The ads are on TV, radio, online, on the front door, on our phone answering system, on each cash register, in each aisle, our bags, and name badges and giant buttons on our smocks. What makes corporate think we can do a better job?

If you want me to do what our marketing department, which has a budget bigger than I do, cannot do then pay me. Simple. I will work harder to promote and score the big ticket items if there is some healthy competition to push me. Hell, get the patients in on it as well. Have them rush to the pharmacy and shout "Who wants to shoot me?!" Then they can watch us fight for the right to give the shots.

If we take this one step further, we could fight over who gets to fill the most expensive medications during the day.

Since we have already sold our souls to corporate, let's get rid of the rest of our dignity.