This isn’t my story. This is actually the story of another pharmacist. I am only relaying the story…in first person. ( I changed a few details to protect his privacy/identity)
I owned a pharmacy for many years. It was a good living and provided well for my family. I was getting ready to “retire” and move on, but none of my 4 kids were pharmacists and were not interested in owning a pharmacy so selling to my children was not an option. I had been approached by Big Box pharmacy to purchase my business so I worked out a deal. I wasn’t completely ready to retire so I agreed to work for Big Box, and they promised to take all of my employees who wanted to stay on. I was the “manager”. I was told “very little would change” so that the transition would be easy for both the employees and the customers.
We were trained on their new computer system, given support with employees experienced with the system, and literally overnight I went from He-who-must-be-obeyed to He-who-must-obey. I no longer signed the paychecks…I received a paycheck. We were given the dress code requirements, told precisely how to answer the phone and what the new chain of command would be. ” we are only a phone call away” the sweet regional manager said. ” call me anytime! I am here to help”.
Somethings were nice…when I locked up at night, it wasn’t my problem. I had a fairly large sum of money in my bank account, but it wasn’t me I was concerned about. My employees werent adjusting all that well. Scheduling became an issue. The schedule that I would write every week wasn’t good enough anymore. I was told I was using too many labor hours even tho we had to stay open later than we had when I owned the store. None of my people had ever had to work past 7 pm and now I had to make them work until 10. Nearly all the “help” they gave us disappeared after the first 2 weeks. My best technician told me she was going to quit because she couldn’t work the late hours. Her day care center charged her extra for anything after 6 pm and she couldn’t afford the fees. I called our regional manager but “it was out of her hands”
After a month, they cut my pharmacists hours to ZERO overlap. We had been using 2 full time pharmacists and a 3/4 time pharmacist. They moved my 3/4 time pharmacist to the float pool, which made her pretty mad since she has two school age kids and needed some kind of regular schedule. We were only supposed to work 8 hours at a time but if somebody was sick and no help was found, they expected us to stay all day. Im 62 years old. I am not used to standing on my feet for nearly 14 hours. I wanted health insurance that was affordable so I kept working. They had flooded the market with coupons to entice people to transfer to our “new” store, and sure, my numbers went up, but so did the wait times and a lot of the customers I had for the last 30 some years began to grumble. It was no longer their community pharmacy. They were absolutely right.
He quit after about 6 months and decided to do some work at our company, in a different state. His relo package required he work for 2 years to keep his signing bonus and moving bills paid.. He was relocated to some Godforsaken small town where the tumbleweeds outnumbered the cars. It was the largest store in town so they had the “corner on the market” he said.
he says: I didn’t think it could be worse but it was. We closed earlier, but everything I did was micromanaged. I wasn’t a “former owner”, I was just an employee to be controlled. I was given projections each week that I was expected to achieve. I am old school, I really am… so when I was required to go to a class to give vaccinations, I was not thrilled. I managed to push it off for a while, but I eventually couldnt dodge it anymore. I was not a good at giving shots I literally had to will my hands not to shake. If I was a customer, I wouldn’t have wanted somebody like me giving me a shot!
My manager was nearly 1/3rd my age, having been out of pharmacy school for only a year. She was nice, but had no idea how to be a leader, talk to customers, or manage employees. She was brilliant with her technical drug knowledge but completely ignorant in many other things. She was offended when older people wanted to talk to me. She treated me like an old codger.
The company rules were oppressive…a long list of tasks to do, reports to keep, forms to fill out each day-week-month, and insufficient time to do it. Tho it was officially against the rules to work off the clock, they knew we had to do it to keep up with their requirements and since we had only a certain amount of dollars we could spend each week on labor, we were really locked between a rock and hard space. They even scheduled meetings we had to attend but said we couldn’t submit for pay for the time to attend them ( which I was sure was against the rules), but when I protested , I was told because it was listed in our job requirements it wasn’t required to be paid time. To this day I am sure some rules were being broken, but I can’t prove it.
I dont understand…Why do they hate us?
This profession has fallen so far that its not recognizable to what it was when I started. Patient care has been replaced with performance goals for Script counts, labor models, inventory limits, and vaccination quotas.
He quit precisely 2 years and 1 day after his contract expired. He moved himself and his wife to a small retirement community and retired his license. ” I am not rich, but I have enough. 2 years and 6 months of corporate pharmacy took more years off my life than the 30 years I owned my own business.
” Get out when you can, kiddo”. That’s advice I plan on taking my friend….its that ” when you can” thats a little cloudy in the crystal ball….