The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail

Not feeling the LOVE

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 5:52 pm on Monday, January 28, 2013

I think everybody in their job has this happen to them at some point in their career.  For me, I was listening to a sermon at church ( for any new readers I have..I am an evangelical Christian pharmacist), and it focused on LOVE.  It wasn’t about the love men and women  have for each other, but the love we Christians are supposed to have and share with each other.  We hear songs all the time ” You will know we are Christians by our LOVE…etc” .  We manifest Christ’s love for US by loving other people. yada yada yada.

I had an epiphany at that sermon.  I dont LOVE most people anymore.  I am pretty sure it has been beaten out of me after 26 years of retail pharmacy.  Any fire of Love that burned inside of me is a mere flicker anymore, I am convicted.  I’m embarrassed to admit that am feeling rather dead right now.  I am pretty good at hiding it, and faking it very well at work. I am hippity hop bubbly at work, run my butt off all day making people happy, but if the truth be revealed (and I am pretty sure God can read the heart), I just dont care right now.  Once I walk out the door, I DONT CARE.

What I do is more for self preservation ( dont yell at me again) than LOVE ( I do this because I care about you).  I just dont have any ambition to care about customers anymore.

Sometimes my dead side seeps to the surface.  Some lady was pissing at the counter because ” EVERY TIME I COME HERE YOU SAY YOU DONT HAVE A PRESCRIPTION FOR ME! I KNOW HE CALLED IT IN”. Well it turned out they called one of our competitors because she is a pharmacy shopper…she goes to several pharmacies.  I really wanted to let her have it..WOULD YOU LIKE TO APOLOGIZE TO ME FOR YOUR RUDENESS”..  ( like I can ever actually get away with THAT?) I did however make her very aware WHERE the script was called in and by whom…and it wasn’t HERE..and I made her wait extra long for it. No, I cant talk back, but I can make her wait.

A little bit of me dies every day I go to work.  I have a small group that meets in my house every couple of weeks.  We all attend the same church and have been meeting for years.  Of the 15 of us, I am the only person who works in a retail setting.  Most are engineers ( never talk to the public),  a couple work in the school system, and a few are stay at home mothers. I am not saying that any of them have it any easier of a JOB than I do, but its different.  Every one of them interact with the same core group of people every day.  I encounter whatever walks up to the counter. It can be an emotional crapshoot.

Well I am crapped out. ( to use a gambling term I guess).  Going on vacation fails to refuel me,  If anything it fuels my desire to leave the profession. We are so busy, going to work is like being in a hot crucible.  My company talks out of both sides of their mouths ” we value you…but not enough to give you time to rest, pee or eat, and oh by the way, cut your labor by another 10%) and clearly what I do is never good enough.

I am not a mind reader.  I can’t GUESS what the new processor is on somebodys 2013 insurance card, so tossing  a tantrum at my counter wont change anything, but when you get home, I hope you feel really stupid when you get my courtesy message reminding you to bring in your new card. I dont care.

I cannot manufacture drugs. If something is out of stock at the wholesaler I can’t just DIVINE it into the pharmacy because a customer yells at me. I just dont care what is in or out of backorder anymore.  If I have it…super…if I dont…well, I DONT.

I cannot control a doctor.  He will ok a waiting refill whenever he damn well chooses.  Not on my demand…or yours either BTW, so whatever…

I cannot control my workload so when you bring me a script and I tell you it will take 40 minutes, and you dont like that, doesn’t change the ugly fact that 15 people beat you to my counter.

It goes on and on…It makes me sad that I feel this way.  Its not my nature. My mother called me her “sensitive one”.  Its like somebody poured Lidocaine all over my heart. Its completely numb.

I mourn the death of the caring person I used to be.

And so it goes…….



Comment by Petopa

January 28, 2013 @ 7:29 pm

I’m sorry you feel this way. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts openly and candidly. I think more people than we realize feel this way about their jobs. And, after 16 years in public education with this being my last as I’m jumping ship because I don’t care either, I empathize with you. Best wishes…hang in there!

Comment by Pharmaciststeve

January 28, 2013 @ 9:59 pm

I suspect that your “feelings” are in the majority.. I have heard that more and more Rx dept staff are on SSRI & Benzo.. to deal with the stress.. I was told that one female RPH was found in the Rx bay.. curled up in the fetal position… sobbing uncontrollably.

Civility no longer exists to any great degree.. but .. corporate America .. is more than willing to try placate and encourage such behavior with gift cards for “offending the customer” with not meeting their irrational expectations.

CVS just cut staffing hours.. while at the same time increased the dividend to their stock holders 38%.

Comment by Dr. Grumpy

January 29, 2013 @ 8:54 am

This is, unfortunately, the nature of modern healthcare.

Comment by Jon

January 29, 2013 @ 9:32 am

Maybe it’s time to find another gig. I also have to deal with whatever walks in, but am too old to do much about it.thats kind of my conundrum too. being nearly 50 with over 21 years in the same place, I have a lot of benefits, I’ll never see again if I change careers. So I suck it up and when I take my 5 weeks of vacation each year, I relish every moment and never leave a day on the table anymore.

Comment by JS

January 29, 2013 @ 10:18 am

I have to disagree, PC. I think you care! Sometimes we just think we don’t because we get frustrated. When the public blame you for something that’s not your fault and then chews you out it’s hard to feel the love. But you still do what you can to get what they need. You care! You love! Take care!

Comment by bongos

January 29, 2013 @ 10:22 am

Can I make a suggestion? Look in to going on a mission trip. It may just change your perspective to the point that you can handle things at home better.I have actually gone on a mission trip, a endeavor that was an amazing experience. It showed me how lucky we are in the western world and how much we actually have. I went to a 3rd world country working with the poorest of the poor..we really do not have poverty in the US. Yes we have people who have little, but absolute poverty? no. I brought back a new appreciation for how much we actually have here. Perhaps it brought back even less patience for the whiny people that so many of us have become over every little inconvenience. seeing a 3rd world country is an experience that everybody should have.

Comment by ke

January 29, 2013 @ 2:11 pm

Unfortunately I know exactly how you feel. I had to leave retail pharmacy because I didn’t like the person I was there. I wish you the best of luck.

Comment by Emma

January 29, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

I feel exactly the same way, and I’ve only been doing this for 5 years. Sad, isn’t it?it is sad. Pharmacy really beats a person up. There is so little reason to keep going somedays when all we get is trashed from patients, and trashed from our superiors. I know what bologna feels like in the sandwich…

Comment by Maridyth

January 29, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

It’s very hard to be caring when people are almost waiting to pounce on you for something they don’t like. It’s as if people wake up and ask themselves, “I wonder who’s going to screw with me today?”

I work in healthcare and it’s become a big business as well as a defense industry. Physicians are almost forced to practice defensive medicine so that they don’t get sued over something that might get missed. Pharmacists and technicians have to deal with the “fast food mentality” of getting scripts done quickly AND perfectly (yeah, ok..sure THAT’s going to happen).

Insurance companies make sure that reimbursements are low, yet premiums are rising. Um, the last time I checked, an insurance company was a risk-taking business to get into, so why is it becoming an industry that is GUARANTEED profitability? The company for which I work sure isn’t reaping those benefits and luxuries.

The general public is quick to scream “my rights” and “malpractice,” but have no IDEA how the industry works or how much education went into becoming a physician or pharmacist (we won’t even begin to discuss the crushing student loans incurred during this training).

PC, I know that you feel bad about the love being gone, and as a Christian myself, I struggle with the same thing on a daily basis. This is not limited to my career, but just being a part of society. It’s hard to love someone when they’re being selfish and unreasonable. Hugs to you! 🙂

Comment by was1

January 29, 2013 @ 4:46 pm

i’ve been doing this since 1984 and except for the christian part, i agree 100%. (i am a devout, athiest pharmacist). i no longer take responsibility or blame for things that are out of my control. i will try to help you in every way possible but if the doctor, or a nurse, or the insurance, or your husband/wife/kid drops the ball, that’s not my fault. i love my job and sleep like a baby every night. retail pharmacy is great. you just have to get past the guilt and negativity that some folks like to spread around. i have no problem telling a customer that i tried but maybe now its up to them to make a couple of phone calls.

Comment by obxpharmacist

January 29, 2013 @ 6:21 pm

I was in you situation a few years ago. Fortunately, I was able to step down as pharmacist manager and reduce my hours. This plus a little help from a SSRI has allowed me to approach the hours that I do work from a much better perspective. Sure there are still days that I just have to make a suggestion and point down the aisle rather than taking the time to walk and talk to the patient, but those I can manage much better.

Comment by Margaret Paxton

January 29, 2013 @ 8:30 pm

Oh, dear Heart! Jesus told us that he brought us not peace but a sword (Matthew 10:34). The sword was his commandment that we should love one another as He loved us. This is so hard! It is the hardest thing in the world to love other people! People are mean,vicious,duplicitous,thieving,self-centered,sneaky,stupid,oblivious,distracted, etc., but we are charged with loving them, no matter. It pierces your heart. You can do things to help them and they do not understand and do not care and they will spit in your face because you helped them. Makes you wonder why God even bothers. But God does bother. So should we. I’m so sorry you are hurting. The Tin Man says in The Wizard of Oz, “Now I know I have a heart, because it is breaking”.

Best wishesyou make such good points. My head knows…my heart is just not there. Perhaps with more prayer it will come back alive 🙂

Comment by ws

January 29, 2013 @ 11:56 pm

I know exactly what you are feeling. I felt the same way and after 25 years in retail I left and went into long term care. I finally work a regular schedule with 8 hr work days, 40 hr work weeks, every 3rd weekend and 1 holiday a year. I get a lunch break and I can go to the bathroom without having to parade by a half a dozen angry eyeballs demanding to know where I was going. Oh and I get to sit a a desk in a chair with a back and armrests and my feet reach the floor. My blood pressure is down and I can get to sleep at night without the aid of alcohol or pills. Is it perfect? No, but it’s so much better than retail and I wouldn’t go back to the rat race of retail for anything.a couple of years ago I applied to 2 different long term care and mail order pharmacies, one of which was even 25 miles from my home. I would have even driven that far each day. The belt has tightened oh pharmacy jobs and something like 20 people applied for a job that a few years previous wouldn’t have gotten a single bite. I didn’t get either. Might be a good thing. One of them lost some contracts and laid off a bunch of pharmacists. That would have been uncool.

Comment by 3Sweeties

January 30, 2013 @ 8:54 am

I know just what you mean, Chick. Working with the public is so hard. I am so tired of being yelled at for following federal law. Besides that, my company has just recently made a ton of changes to various policies, and they keep cutting hours. They changed our dress code drastically effective 1 week after Christmas, when most of us were too busy to go buy a new wardrobe, and probably too broke as well. I’m a tech, but my husband makes very good money, so I was able to buy the clothes I needed without difficulty, but all of the other techs at the store were really upset about it. When my pharmacy manager pointed out to the district manager that Christmastime was a tough time financially for people to have an unexpected expense like that, the DM replied that we ought to ask our families to buy us clothes for Christmas. Yeah right.

Comment by RPh1982

January 30, 2013 @ 6:53 pm

You have helped me keep perspective for a long time. Thank you with a big hug. “Some people come into your life as blessings. Some come into your life as lessons.” The people that appreciate you far out number the lessons.Leave it up to you and all of the other commenters to make me feel less alone in my struggles. It is YOU and all my readers I should be thanking.

Comment by Blissless

January 30, 2013 @ 9:06 pm

I could sign my name to this…every bit of it. 21 years of retail chain…I’m only 41, but I’m dead inside.its an awful feeling isnt it. I am not proud of it.

Comment by Pharmacy Gal

January 31, 2013 @ 3:23 pm

I know the feeling well. A colleague of mine says that the only way to survive is to “try not to care.”

Comment by Goose

January 31, 2013 @ 4:19 pm

To Chick and all my the other folks in retail:
Get out if you can. There are other jobs for pharmacists out there. Some of them will have pressures but there is no pressure worse than not being respected.
I expect you all still love or care more than you would like to admit, that’s why we are all sharing here. Retail is a cold, uncaring place where you have no control. Patients know that it is uncaring, in my opinion, that’s why you get this feedback. It wasn’t always like this.
If nothing else, let’s all love and support one another as pharmacists. Keep the dialog open. I see pharmaciststeve has posted here, read his blog and others. You are not alone.
Chick, I have never met you but I’ve been reading your blog for years. You are a special person and I will pray for you.Thank you for reading. I am stunned and humbled by all the responses to this post!

Comment by Anotherone

January 31, 2013 @ 8:27 pm

I’m 25 yrs into this, and hopefully another 10-15 more.

I just read a book about the Next Christians and I think we are poised to lead the way. Open your own pharmacy- NO MORE W-2’s !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Take a chance. It’s not that hard. Take your patients with you! Take care of people, and they’ll take care of you.I really appreciate your advice, but if I were to open my own business, it wouldn’t be a pharmacy. I would be married to my business and I just can’t do that at my age now. I know several independents and the glory days of independent pharmacy is gone. its over regulated, and under paid. Are you an owner? How do you do it? 🙂 ( and I dont have the $$ to dump into ownership..heck just stocking basic drug inventory would be 200k. )

Comment by Pharmacy Jim

February 2, 2013 @ 7:48 pm

Ditto to what you said PC. I have 33 years in retail and “enjoy” it less everyday. I do understand where you are coming from. NOW, let me say your blog has been a real inspiration to me, and I dare say others. I feel God has used you to inspire me, make me laugh, and make me reexamine my priorities. I do not know you, but I feel like I do. Thanks for being there. You are in my prayers and Godspeed!
thats very kind of you to say that Jim, thanks for your prayers! I need them all!

Comment by bcmigal

February 3, 2013 @ 12:15 pm

PC, I think every retail pharmacist feels the same way you do. Folks seem to believe that they can treat us like sub-humans just because we are on the opposite side of the counter. But once in a while, a bit of light breaks through the darkness. I worked “sick” last week (what a surprise). A customer came in with identical symptoms and with a prescription for identical meds (antibiotic, dospak, and inhaler). She said she thought the best treatment was chicken soup. While we were filling her rxs, she drove 5 miles each way to a local deli and then brought back hot soup for me. Faith restored in chicken soup and humanity!that is sweet. I occasionally am surprised by this one gentleman who brings me a coke!

Comment by Mhillrph

February 3, 2013 @ 2:55 pm

I read your blog often, but seldom respond. Always enjoy the read!

I’m older and have been working in retail longer than you and I still love my job and patients. I’ve been where you are, but here’s what I’ve learned on the other side of it. Several years ago, we had a prodigal child who broke our hearts. In the midst of dealing with him I became convinced that he was unable to grasp what “I love you” means. So I tried to find a working definition that conveyed the idea without using those words. What I now say is “I want the best for you”. I know this is simple, but it’s been a profound thing for me. I’ve found that this expressions inbodies everything that love is. For my prodigal, I want the best things: health, happiness, contentment, adequate finances, friendships, avoidance of pain, right relationships with everyone, etc. And isn’t this what the Master wants for us as well? He loves me, yes. But that means he wants the best for me. It’s why He came and died for us. To set us free from sin and death and hopelessness. The cross was humiliating for Him, but it was the best thing for us, so He laid down on the cross and stretched out His hands and offered Himself up for us. It was the best thing.

Most of the time at work I don’t feel affection towards my customers. (Ocassionally, but not usually.)Many times I feel frustration and dissappointment towards them, but I always try to work with them from the standpoint of what is best for them. The Master did it for me, I want to do it for others. Sometimes it is best if they call the doctor themselves, or best if they let me grab a bite of lunch, or take a bathroom break. I can’t be the best pharmacist they need if I’m overly frustrated, or hungry, or needing the bathroom so badly that I do a sloppy job with a DUR screen just so I can dart to the back while no one is looking.

I understand how pharmacy can drain you, but you are a good pharmacist. Love your customers by doing what is best for them. (I suspect that you always do). The sweet emotion of love will come and go, and your feelings will ebb and flow as well. But there is something very rewarding and permanent about doing what’s best for others because you love them.

Thanks again for the blog. I always enjoy your post. Makes me feel like I’ve known you a long time.very well put, and thank you!

Comment by Blanche

February 4, 2013 @ 6:57 pm

I’m not a pharmacist or doctor but I do have relatives who are pharmacists (one at hospital management level & one who was dumped by CVS after years of service and is now working for the state mental hospital for much less $ and stress).

For my part, thanks to reading your posts and a couple of other pharmacy/doctor bloggers, I try to be a good citizen when I need a prescription filled. Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings and doing what you do (aka putting up with the dregs of humanity & cranky customers who can’t get rid of their problems so share them with you)!

Comment by LegalDrugDealer

March 17, 2013 @ 6:28 pm

I remember coming out of school and loving every customer that came in and what not. Then only 4 years in, the chain killed that side of me. Luckily, I found my gusto back when I decided to quit the chain and go independent. But, I definitely understand what your saying

Comment by BURNTRPH

June 25, 2013 @ 11:15 pm

I remember how much compassion I had coming out of school. Much like LEGALDRUGDEALER, 4 years of retail experience at a chain depleted me. I feel like I have less love to give to the world now. I used to be SUCH a people person, so outgoing, and now all I want to do is be left alone (or listen to crap I don’t care to hear about from friends, FRIENDS!). The worst part is the feeling of being trapped; there are hardly any other job openings and if I did what my heart/soul was telling me to do (quit the job) then I don’t know where I would go. It’s a depressing cycle. I tried the SSRI route, I tried drinking (over-drinking, really), I tried talking it out with my amazing girlfriend. Nothing seems to really get me out of this funk.

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