The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail

A clerk in a white coat.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 9:24 pm on Saturday, November 29, 2008

It was a pretty slow day today.  I am pretty sure everybody was either at the mall or glued to the TV watching college football, as there were some pretty significant games played today on national TV.  However, now and then I’d be busy.  This was such a moment.  I was on the phone with some insurance company trying to decipher a rejection.  It wasn’t going very fast: “Can you hold while I look at this claim?” Sheesh, what else am I going to do? 

A guy approaches the counter and my Tech Extraordinare gives the standard greeting “Hello, can I help you?”.  He asks to speak to the pharmacist.   He can see I am on the phone so T.E. tells him that once I am free, I will help him.

And so the wait begins.  It really only took me about 2-3 minutes.  Not a long time when you think eternally, but stop what you doing right now:  look at your watch, and watch it tick away for 3 minutes.  Seems like a long time right?

I finally excuse myself from the phone call and approach the counter getting ready to dispense whatever medical information this gentleman wants to extract from me.

He asks:

“Can you tell me where the ear wax removal kits are?”

I asked T.E. sweetly, (as the phone just begins to ring)  “Would you mind taking this gentleman to the earwax removal kits?”

I couldn’t resist.

Happy Thanksgiving

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 12:13 am on Thursday, November 27, 2008

I am thankful for many things, and I am thankful for you, even the ones who might disagree with what I write.  I hope you have lots of food, football, and family this Day and for those who have had to work this Thanksgiving day, may you have a especially blessed day.

Pharmacy Chick

Stop the “mad”ness!

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 11:34 pm on Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It was just one of those days at the pharmacy.  Everybody had a bone to pick. Tech Extraordinare was exasperated “Does EVERYBODY have to be a dink today?”  My mother had a saying about such people “She’d complain if you hung her with a silver rope”. I can still hear her voice.  But,  you know what? I never understood that saying. Who’d want to be hung with any rope, silver or otherwise?

Regardless, I just took a deep breath and said to Tech Extraordinare “What day goes by without having somebody pissed about something?”  Something clicked in my head and said “blog material”. 

I thought about all the things that people get ticked at us about:  their copays, their insurance woes, their doctor hasn’t called back, its taking too long to fill their rx,  whatever.  None of these are OUR fault, but we are routinely blamed and we get the brunt of their anger.

We are open 363 days a year.  So if we conservatively assume that only 1 person per day is pissy about something, thats 363 pissy people.   I work 4 days per week, 48 weeks a year (I get 4 weeks of vacation). That computes to 192 actual work days for me personally.    That means that conservatively, I  have 192 people pissed at me about something every year. 

I’ve been a pharmacist for 21 years.  21years x 192 pissy people = 4032.

Now I understand that there will be duplicates.  Some people are pissy every time they come in.  However, I think that we deal with WAY more than 1 pissy person per day.   No wonder we feel beat up and worn out after years in retail. 

Who wants to get excited about going to work when ya just know somebody is going to  chew you out about something?

I wonder if they need a pharmacist is Whoville? *

*for those unfamiliar with Whoville, watch The Grinch who stole Christmas by Dr Seuss.

Stupid Rx of the Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 11:26 pm on Friday, November 21, 2008

Every now and then I get a rx the makes the Chick scratch her head.  “Does anybody read these things before they fax them?” 

Here’s todays, that came on a computer generated full page fax form, letterhead and everything…

Jane Smith  dob: 12-5-76 (yea thats made up for any Jane Smith who actually is born on 12-5-76)

Fluoxetine 10mg capsule

Take 1 capsule (20mg) once daily for 30 days

#30

no refills

Dr Dumkoff at Big University Teaching Hospital

I took one look at it and faxed back to Dr Dumkoff: So what is it? 10 or 20mg?  I didn’t hear back. I guess Jane will be depressed for a few more days.

A Weird Omen II

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 11:13 pm on Friday, November 21, 2008

A few weeks ago Pharmacy Chick wrote about a guy who left a book in the pharmacy waiting room. If you don’t remember I will refresh you.

This guy was waiting for a flu shot and brought a book.  I saw him reading it.  After I came out and gave him the shot, he apparently forgot to pick up his book because when I came out later to straighten up, I found it there.  I looked at the title and thought how appropriate for this nightmare of a workplace somedays.  The name of the book was Entering Hades.  Everybody got a kick out of it.

Well, today this lady comes in for her prescriptions and she had a book in hand. It was black covered just like the one left behind a couple of weeks ago.  I filled her rx’s, she picked them up and took off.  Again, later on, I went out to the wait room and saw her book on the seat.  I picked it up and read the name and thought Oh My Goodness, what are you trying to tell me God?  The name of the book was The Death Chamber.   Ok, coming to work may seem like “Entering Hades” but I am hoping it won’t be my “Death Chamber”.

Creepy. 

People, take your books with you.  You are weirding out the Chick.

Do Drug ads have to be the lamest on TV?

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 9:32 am on Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Chicks were watching TV the other night and part of the ritual (if not watching something DVR’d) is enduring the barrage of TV ads.  Now that the holidays are inching closer we are being hit with a full out assault.  Buy this Video game, buy this HDTV, Drink this at your holiday dinner, etc…

But honestly, what I am absolutely sick of is the lame ads for prescription (and previously prescription) drug products.  I cannot be alone.  They are just stuuuupid.

1. Nasonex: The bee with the bad French accent, ok, where is a fly swatter when you really need it?

2. Vytorin:  Relatives who look like spinning plates of food.  Cute at the beginning, but got old really fast when the relatives started looking like Barnum and Bailey Circus was dressing them.

3. Prilosec OTC:  ok, this is an OTC product, but it USED to be RX.  The lady dancing in a disco setting extolling the virtues of Prilosec.   Who dances in discos anymore?  Nobody I know.  The last time I went dancing I was in college and I was avoiding the future Mr. Chick cuz some hunky guy was eyeing me.

4.  Cialis:  2 claw foot bathtubs on the dock of a lake?  whats romantic about sitting alone in a 2 tubs full of  water.  You KNOW its not hot water, and if it was, its cold by now.  If you want sexy, put 1 naked man and 3 naked girls  in a hot tub full of bubbles…then maybe you won’t need Cialis…  Actually I think the most dysfunction most women would like to see solved is the one that keeps their man limp on the couch when the dishes need done, the laundry needs changed and the grass needs mowed. 

5. Viagra:  Viva Viagra?  I’d be embarrassed to admit if I was the ad writer for this campaign.  Most men get a bit timid when they want to order their Viagra, they certainly aren’t gonna write a country song about it, and I am quite sure not many accountant-types are gonna come home with a new Harley Davidson after getting a little tushy with the blue-dreamers helping things along.

6. Claritin: Claritin clear?  I doubt it.  Its a pretty weak antihistamine, and in my personal experience, its not very helpful.  The only thing that cleared for me when I took Claritin was my wallet (before generic came out). 

7. Nexium:  Notice how they conveniently leave out that its $6 a pill?

8. Lunesta:  again, wheres the bug swatter?  Time for the Luna Moth to take flight. It would take a midazolam injection to go to sleep that fast.

  I have completely lost count of how many of those “7 days free” in-magazine coupons people have tried to “fill” at my pharmacy.  They are completely lost when I tell them they have to get a prescription.  I guess they thought I would just pony up 7 Ambien CR?

Its time to dump these direct to consumer ads and let the physicians decide what patients need.  If these drugs aren’t safe enough to be OTC then they aren’t safe enough for the consumer to decide they need them.

And, thats my story and I am sticking to it.

Coupons: the grocery kind, a lazy clipper am I.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 8:56 pm on Sunday, November 16, 2008

Pharmacy Chick had the duty today and used the day duly for catch up.  Its been insane lately with vaccinations.  When you take a busy pharmacist and add a couple hundred vaccinations each week, a lot of things I am supposed to do, don’t get done.  We were at least 500 rx’s behind in filing, I had about 3 weeks of reports to find, intial and file.  I had 2 clinic’s worth of flu shots to process and just a lot of busy work.  Even tho its was a slow day prescription wise, we used every minute of it fruitfully.  We got a lot done.

My tech and I were visiting as we went thru the 500 rx’s we were filing and she asked me question about my old store etc.  She is a new tech for me so we have much to talk about.  I was reminded about the “old” days at my previous store, a very slow pharmacy.  We had 2 pharmacists and 1 tech.  We worked alone on Saturdays and Sundays…and still got bored. 

One of the things I used to do on my slow Sundays was bring the paper with me and read it.  Some Sundays we would fill 3-6 prescriptions in 6 hours.  It was mind-numbing. This meant I became a very well read individual…newspaper-wise.  I also used to clip coupons.  I had heard about an organization that collected coupons for military people, so I clipped every single coupon in the sunday paper, put them in an envelope and mailed it every monday.  I would keep a few for myself and had well laid plans to save money with my coupons.

Problem was, I never used them.  Oh, I had wonderful intentions.  I’d see a new item I’d like to try for 75cents off and I’d cut the coupon.   Then I would forget it.  OR, I would buy the item when I didn’t have the coupon with me.  After a while I had a lovely file stuffed full of….expired coupons.   Occasionally I’d use a coupon to buy something only to find it was expired or the wrong package size. Other times I’d try something I wouldn’t normally buy (or didn’t need) just because I had a coupon.  Mistake.

When you buy something you don’t really need just because its on sale, you aren’t saving money, you are wasting it.  Once in a while I’d actually be organized enough to actually redeem coupons for items I actually used, but not very often. 

Then, I moved to a different store.  I no longer had Sundays lounging in the pharmacy clipping coupons,  for we went from 6 rx to 100 or more.  I tried to keep up with my coupon clipping (at least for the military) but I never realized how much time it took to clip all of them.  It was easy when I was a captive in a slow pharmacy, but it was impossible in my new store and doing it at home never happened.  There were always more pressing details.  I quit clipping them all together.  About the only coupons I keep now are restaurant coupons for places we regularly go (and keep them in the car).  

I was reminded of all this when I was shopping today.  I walked up behind a woman who had a 3-ring binder (!) with all of her coupons categorized, displayed, and stored in clear sleeves like business cards.  She was extremely well dressed and carried a designer bag so it didn’t appear to be poverty that motivated her.

I thought “wow, thats organization!”  I don’t know how long she shopped, but I’d guess it was a lot longer than I did. 

Maybe I should start my file of expired coupons again…naaaah, then I wouldn’t have as much time for blogging…LOL

Old Story: a cell phone and a new friend.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 7:56 pm on Friday, November 14, 2008

Other than it happened to the Pharmacy Chick, this is not really a pharmacy story, but its one of my favorites because its completely true. 

When the Chick’s mother was dying I spent a lot of time on planes flying back home. I’d work for 3 weeks, then go home for a week to see Mom.  Since it was pre 9-11 days, flying was still reasonably fun.  Usually I had a 3 hour lay over in a major airport.  There was always an earlier flight at the layover but for some reason the ticketing agents would never book 2 flights so close apart. 

One day I was flying back home and luck of all lucks occurred.  I asked if I could get on this earlier flight and was given a seat.  This meant I could get home 2+ hours earlier.  I had no luggage but what I was carrying (PC had learned to travel light).  I had one problem however.  The flight was boarding NOW and Mr Chick thought I was coming 2+ hours later.  I had no time to find a pay phone and this was before I had a cell phone.    Now days, every hip has a phone attached to it, but years ago, they were still rather novel, rather expensive and “minutes” were not wasted, especially on long distance.

I was pondering my quandry when I noticed the man in front of me had one of these precious little phones.  He looked like a nice man, so I got brave and asked him “Sir, I’ll pay you for your minutes, if I can make one small call on your phone.  My husband doesn’t know I am coming home on an earlier flight and I dont have time to find a pay phone.”   He gave me a nice smile and said “Sure, no problem, and no charge”.

I made the call, thanked him profusely and continued in line to board.  Whew.  All was good.

When I got on the plane,  I found my seat and lo, my seat mate was THIS MAN!.  Bear in mind, I was several hundred miles from home in an international airport, and had just asked a complete stranger to use his phone.  We struck up a conversation and it turned out he was going home to my city also.  I live in a major metropolitin area so “same city” can be anywhere in this 900 square mile populated area. 

He lives in my neighborhood. He grocery shops in the mall where I work.  U.N.B.E.L.I.E.V.A.B.L.E.

He was a lifesaver for me that day and I always smile when I hear the words ” Can I use your phone?”, cuz it usually is his face at my counter, saying HI.

I’ve never had to return the favor, but surely, if somebody ever needs to use MY cell phone, I’ll hand it right over and maybe meet a new friend.

For some, things don’t matter anymore.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 6:01 pm on Thursday, November 13, 2008

One of pharmacy chicks favorite work activities is the flu clinics I do off site. I  go to businesses and care facilities, meeting people of all ages and conditions.  Its good for me to visit the latter, because its a stern reminder of the frailty and shortness of life.  I am not going to live forever and I am not going to occupy this strong and healthy body for a life time.  It will grow old and decay and all I can hope for is a nice place that people will care for and about me.  Its not much to ask, but growing old with dignity is a tall order sometimes. 

I went to such a facility today.  Everybody who lived there needed quite a bit of assistance. Because all of their paperwork was filled out in advance, all I had to do was ask their names, fish out their release forms, and give them their flu shot. 

One of the CNA’s brought in an older gentleman and sat him down with a few others.  As his turn arrived I told him he could come over and sit down. He was independently mobile (no wheelchair).  He was friendly and eager to come sit next to me.  I asked him “Are you ready for your flu shot?”  He said “Certainly ma’am”  so I asked him “What is your name?”   With a big smile, unashamed  and without any reservation he exclaimed:  “I haven’t the faintest idea!”

One of the careworkers told me his name, I gave him is shot , and sent him on his way.  Clearly his body was in better shape than his mind.

He was happy, cared for and well fed.  It no longer mattered to him if the DOW hit the basement, if we were in or out of Iraq, or who won the presidency. 

He just wanted to be sure he didn’t miss lunch.

He didn’t.

Pharmacy and banking: 2 sides of the same coin?

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 10:00 pm on Monday, November 10, 2008

Its no secret that the banking industry is trashed.    Willfully and knowingly, for years, banks gave loans to people (with little or no ability to pay) to buy houses they had no business buying.  Some even violated their own policies to assure these loans were approved by either falsifying records or creating loopholes an elephant could walk thru. They knew it was risky but they were hoping that past performance would be the true indicator of future returns.  Didn’t happen.  In essesence, they built the gallows that they were hung upon.

As I price matched another $10/90 day supply transfer for a $25.00 gift card, I wondered privately: are we doing the same thing?

We allowed PBM’s to make brand name meds completely unprofitable.

We are now taking our last money makers (generic medications) and are using them as loss leaders,  and now hand out “gift” cards for $10-30 at a time for people who collect them like trading cards, and fill their prescriptions at the “pharmacy of the week”. 

Are we building our own gallows by giving away the business?

Just a thought.

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