The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail

Meeting myself in the advice column.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 11:48 am on Monday, June 25, 2012

Our local newspaper has a daily advice column, of the ” dear Abby” variety.  Its kind of hit and miss as far as how often I read it, but occasionally its good reading.  It certainly brings to life the the expression ” truth  is stranger than fiction”.  There are some seriously messed up people!

One day last week this girl writes in and ( paraphrased) writes that she has a wonderful relationship with her boyfriend but for one thing: she fears she can’t do anything right–for example: if she puts the dishes in the dishwasher, he will re arrange them.  if she parks her bike at the park, he will straighten it out. if she folds the clothes, he will refold them. She cited a few more examples about how he must think she is a dope because he “fixes” everything she does.  The columnist responded and nailed it right on the head:  ” dont think this is about you honey, its about him”. She deduced that he probably has mild form of OCD-ish tendencies and for HIS world to be right, the dishes have to be straight in the dishwasher and that bike needed to be a certain way in the bike rack and his undies have to be folded just so.

I know this guy: Its me ( in female form). I have come to understand while I am not over the top OCD, I certainly have to have a certain amount of order in my life for me to be comfortable.  I dont wash my hands 100 times day, and I don’t need to straighten the fringe on the area rugs all day long or shut a door 100 times to be sure its closed, but if certain things aren’t right, my world is rocked off its axis until those things are corrected.

I keep my closet organized.  Its all separated by item and color.  all my golf shirts are arranged ROYGBIV, as are Mr Chicks by my hand.  All the pants hang a certain way and every drawer is tidy.  Black sox here, white sox there.  Everything needs to have a place..and everything needs to be IN that place.  If its not, then I ruminate over it way too much until I can fix it. I hate clutter…and I have too much of it already.

Mr Chick is not this way, tho to some extent he will entertain my obsessions and support my efforts to keep my world straight. He lets me keep his shirts in order and he makes a modest attempt to keep his side of the closet tidy.

I know I am ridiculous.

My golf bag is just as ridiculous.  If Mr chick hands me golf balls he finds and wants to stick it in my bag..and they AREN’T a titleist pro-v 1, I can’t hardly stand them to be IN my bag and cant wait until the round is over and I can get them out.  I dont like stuff in my bag that I dont WANT in it.  I dont like his fleece, or his water bottle or his rain gear in my bag either.  I need a good head slap probably.

My concession to this is the garage.  If it were up to me that garage would be operating room clean, and well organized.  Sadly, its Mr Chick’s space and its a rather messy and disorganized space.  When we replaced all the dilapidated  cabinetry a couple of years ago, I encouraged organization, but it didn’t go very well.  To this day, the drawers are a jumbled mess of junk and if we want something and can’t find it, we will more often than not abandon the search and go and buy it. ( then stumble upon it later) The cabinets have modest organization, but nothing special. I keep resisting the urge to start cleaning it…and I may give in  to the urge and do it.

Recently my world was rocked again with a remodel in the bathroom.  For 6 weeks we have had all of our bathroom and master closet stuff  in totes in the bedroom and guest rooms.  We have been bathing in the guest room and all of my clothes have been piled on the guest bed. I find myself tidying up OTHER areas of the house because I can’t tidy up the mess upstairs.  It makes everything dusty ( even with the draping) and currently its all cluttered and awry.  I made one step back to normalcy when the closet was completed:  I had my clothes back in place in record time!

The pharmacy is a reflection of my need for order.  I have things in certain places for a reason and they have to be there.  If my special spatula is missing, I am internally upset.  I dont care if the rx’s are in complete alphabetical order, but I do like them to be exactly equidistant on the shelves ( left to right) so I can see them best.  the tape has to be straight and the stapler has to be next to the tape.

I am grateful for a staff who understands me.

I am ridiculous…but its who I am.

 

You know you are a pharmacist if….

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 8:00 pm on Sunday, May 6, 2012

Stolen right from the facebook page of  my friend Mike, he writes ” you know you are a pharmacist  if you judge people on whether they want brand or generic”.

I thought it might be “reader participation time”…SO, how about you submit to me in the form of comments, how you might finish this sentence:

YOU KNOW YOU ARE A PHARMACIST IF…

I’ll start off with a few I can think of.

1.  you have ever frosted a cake with a spatula that has CEFTIN engraved on it

2. you tell patients to discard their outdated drugs, but half the drugs in your own cabinet are out of date.

3. you have fibbed about your occupation to strangers to avoid the barrage of questions you know they will ask.

4. you want to smack everybody who has ever started a question with the words ” I know you aren’t a doctor but….”

5. you have pretty high standards for what makes the perfect white coat, label tape, and pen.

6. you consider foreign pharmacies as tourist stops

7. every note pad or pen you have ever owned has a drug name emblazoned on it.

8. you meet one of your customers OUTSIDE of the store and they say ” you look different in real clothes”

YOUR TURN!

Looking at my career from a rear view mirror

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 3:14 pm on Friday, May 27, 2011

One of the responsibilities I feel I must have as a pharmacist is that of Preceptor. Im not blessed with patience to deal with the 1st year interns but I do pretty well with 2nd year and beyond. I have interns around most summers when I can. Next month marks my 24TH year as a pharmacist, over half of my life. Can I admit that I am glad that its 24 and not 4? My have things changed in the last 24 years….with massive changes just in the last 5 years. I wouldn’t want to be starting out right now. I am sorry, young pharmacists and interns…but I wouldn’t change places with you right now. I suppose you dont know any better, but I do, having lived thru the corporatization of all things pharmacy.

24 years ago, I started out in what pharmacy predominately was: Independently owned and operated pharmacies. Joe’s Pharmacy, Killebrew Drug, Thompson drug, whatever you called it, there was probably a Joe, a Killebrew and Thompson somewhere in the building. He was surely a pharmacist. I fell in love with independent pharmacy because it represented the kind of pharmacy I went to as a kid. The pharmacy stood at the back, a few steps up manned with a staff of people who looked important and busy doing stuff I couldn’t really see. Eventually I became one of them.

Then it was sold and I became an employee of a huge chain. People I had never met or seen before became my boss and administered policies. Even tho, it was still rather small….2 guys (pharmacists) and a secretary across town “managed” this acquisition. Eventually we became friends and as long as we weren’t pissing off people, I guess they were happy.

Both were previous owners of independent pharmacies and they had the heart of an independent. But they were older and in a few years retired. they must have carried some weight because when they retired with in a year of each other (and the secretary moved to another state) the company seized the change to populate the office with men of their own design….corporate minded yes-men. And the decline of the profession was in place.

Slowed only by the national shortage of pharmacists, we still had it relatively good. Strong wages, and a “write your own ticket” availability of jobs made it difficult to staff pharmacies so even heavy handed corporations didn’t shove too much down our throats…but the noose was tightening.

Schools pumped out students as fast as they could but it never seemed to be enough to keep up with store openings and retirements…until the economy tanked. Retirements slowed. People inclined to move out of the business or go part time decided to hang on to their job. Students became a glut. No longer were internships snapped up by the dozen. Now they are a coveted position and they compete for the “offer” of future employment.

I have lived thru it all. Thru feast and famine. from cash payors to PBM, from fully staffed to skeleton crews, from autonomy to being filmed and timed all day long. I am 24 years into it, and 21 of them have been in some kind of management position.

I am tired. Tired of thinking about and being responsible for schedules, inventory, meetings, reports, returns, customer complaints, administering policy, etc. My man Friday told me that in 2013 he is retiring. In 2013 I will be 50 years old and will have been a pharmacist 26 years. Unless there is some huge change in my life I am going to hand over the managers spatula ( the really nice oak one I wrote about) to a suitable person and take over Friday’s job. His/her picture will go up on the wall and I will do everything I can to help and support that new person and groom my customers to respect him/her in that new job.

That, my friends , is the light at the end of my tunnel.

Ripping Grumpy off: Tools of MY trade.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 9:27 pm on Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dr Grumpy posted today on HIS tools of the trade.  If you havent read it you can read it here: http://drgrumpyinthehouse.blogspot.com/2011/03/secrets-of-jedi-masters.html

Pharmacy chick has no need of a reflex hammer.   On second thought some of the hammers on Grumpy’s post might come in handy.. in an entirely new use, but one that might not be conventional….or legal….

Moving on.  In a blatant attempt to ride the coat tails of Grumpy’s success and innovative post ideas I offer my own only semi plagarized “tools of the trade”:

Pharmacy has its own tools…., namely the counting tray and spatula.  Every pharmacist will admit that they probably have a specific spatula that they will always grab when they have to do the duty. I am no exception.  That is not to say that I’ll rip it out of the tech’s hand if she/he happens to be using it, but I will generally whine if I can’t find my favorite.

Ive had a variety of both spatulas and trays dropped off at PC pharmacy over the years.  With the demise of freebies from drug companies, they have been eliminated but I still keep a tidy supply for future use.  There are some however that are complete crap.  I mean,  they have to meet some kind of critera in order to make the “big show” and end up on the counter.

Go to fullsize imageThe tray might make it on the counter because it is an acceptable solid color but the spatula???? WTF is that plastic thing?  NO pharmacist would use that “spatula”..and I use that term lightly.  The tray must have  the thumb tab to raise the hinge.  (which it does) . I have a couple without the thumb tab and its a pain in the arse to use. This tray comes as close as possible to the all time favorite:  The Turquoise Abbot Counting Tray.  It was probably the mainstay of pharmacies everywhere.

eBay Image 1 Vintage Abbott Lab Counting Tray in Box w/InsertSeen here, it has graced the counters of pharmacies all over the US, and probably the world.  Nobody has ever made a tray this perfect.

Go to fullsize imageThis is a loser on two levels.  1)  I dont like any transparent counting tray.  Its only redeeming value is that its a ambidextrous tray for the 1 in 10000000 pharmacists who thinks they need to shove their tablets to the right.  In 23 years of practice, I have met only one and he brought it own tray…which he absentmindedly left behind.  I had to mail it to him.  I’m left handed and Ive managed quite well with a standard tray.  2) the spatula has that tweezer on the end which serves no purpose but to pinch the user.  I have a couple of these in a drawer.  And, in that drawer they will stay. If I am going to get pinched, it better be by a handsome  man and NOT by a piece of equipment. It does have a nice taper blade however.  I am , after all counting tablets not frosting a cake.

Go to fullsize image We got a fair number of these with inserts for advertising.  My tech ripped the ad out of one and inserted her kid’s picture.  But the tray lacks a thumb tab…PC needs a thumb tab.  The spatula is another technological wonder.  It has a spring loaded cotton picker in the end.  Again,  worthless piece of equipment.  It never picked cotton very well and when the spring sprung the cotton picker flopped around poking anyone who got too close. 

Go to fullsize image HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.  Supposedly the 4 in 1 pharmacy tool.  it claims” The 4-in-1 Pharmacy Tool is a portable handheld device designed to assist busy pharmacists with the repetitive tasks of opening medicine bottles and counting pills to fill patient prescriptions. The tool breaks moisture-induction seals, removes cotton from bottles, acts as a spatula for counting pills and has tweezers for sanitary hands-off retrieval of any stray pills accidentally spilled during the filling procedure.”  It also appears to be a handy mouth guard for those pharmacists who take the job home at night and grind their teeth…

Go to fullsize imageHonestly I cannot imagine.  But they want $50 bucks for it. At least the handle is wood …Rosewood specifically…PC likes wood handled spatulas.  We are getting closer. 

Pharmacists toolkitUm  for Survivor…Pharmacy Edition?  Actually I am not sure it would be a good idea to give a retail pharmacist close access to a tool of this design. I like the taper blade but one bad day and there may be bloodshed and where do you hide the bodies in a pharmacy?  At least we all know Universal Precautions from our blood borne path class.

Wooden counting spatulaOuch, another redundant effort to improve a simple spatula. But it may do a nice job of cleaning fingernails or picking noses…carefully.

Go to fullsize imageTOO LONG….

Go to fullsize imageToo short. Too wide.

Go to fullsize imageWrong Profession.

So, you might ask..WHAT DO you use Pharmacy Chick?  your hands?  Well, no, but I did know a Rph in my early days who counted with his fingers, like a sieve.  He was nearly retired.  I think that was a sound decision on his part.  My perfect spatula is a vintage Ceftin spatula I have had for all my years.  I have absconded  with it from every pharmacy I have ever worked in.  Traditional in design, it has a smoothly sanded oak handle and a perfect length tapered blade.  It has suffered many indignities over the years including a bent tip from a few too many stabs in safety seals but it feels perfect in my hand. It doesn’t scratch the tray, and the finish doesn’t cause splinters. (yes I have had some really cheap woodies that the paint came off and caused splinters)

This is the perfect PC spatula.  Simple in design.  About a 6 in tapered blade. Smooth wood handle, feels good in my hand.  Any tablet should be honored to be counted with such a lovely device.

And now you know all my “tools of the trade”.

 

SSSSizzle!

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 6:23 pm on Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer finally arrived in Chick-Ville THANK YOU VERY MUCH!   After the winter that lasted far to long and a spring (I use that term loosely) that resembled winter,  we finally are baking in the 90’s.  You will NOT hear the chick whine about the heat.  Bring it on!

After golf today, Mr Chick and I decided to head to the club pool.  The cool refreshing water felt wonderful on a body that had just played 18 holes of golf in 95 degree heat.  It was packed with hottie teeny boppers in their bikinis (sigh, I remember the days) and many I shall describe only as “others”.

Can I just say one thing?  At some point, even BLACK quits being slimming. 

Just an observation!

On the frontlines of the pharmacy,  the Chick got a new intern for the summer…whoo hoo!  I only wish I had interns when I needed them MOST, during flu shot season.  Unfortunately thats when they migrate back to the books.  She’s a smart cookie and for the first time in X years, my intern has ENGLISH as her first language.

Interns sure have changed over the years.  I no longer accept first  year interns simply because I don’t have the time to teach them the stuff they should have learned in class.  When I was in school, we had a true “dispensing” class. It was a mock up of a pharmacy, complete with a pharmacy full of outdated donated drugs that have been pulled and counted thousands of times no doubt.  We were given “rx’s” that we were to interpret, type labels (yes TYPE…as in typewriter) then count, label and show the teacher.

The school nearest to us that we get our interns from have never been to a dispensing class. I guess the teachers assume that is the preceptors job.  “Here, this is a spatula and a counting tray..you hold the wooden end and count with the metal end, usually by 5’s unless you are some savant and prefer to count by 4’s or 6’s…”.

One of the things I always tell my students is this.  “Pharmacy school is going to teach you how to BECOME a pharmacist.   I am going to teach you how to BE one.”  Big difference. 

Every one tries to talk like their professor…”Do you have a special project for me this summer?”.  ” Yes…learn how to become an awesome retail pharmacist, since that is the setting you are in for 10 weeks.  The customer is your judge.”.

Its so competitive in the pharmacy schools now, that I know these kids are brilliant minds to even have been accepted into the program.  I want to teach them to be brilliant communicators and empathetic people too..

Time to get my Dale Carnegie books out!

Now, its time to dip my feet in the pool again!

Sticking it to vacciations? Or sticking WITH vaccinations?

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 11:37 am on Friday, March 5, 2010

I read a couple of recent posts expressing opinions about vaccinations in pharmacy.  Both bloggers made very valid points about the money that the pharmacy is making at our (the vaccinators) expense when we put in a HUGE amount of extra effort for no extra pay.  They wondered about the wisdom of this.

I am a vaccinator, and jumped on board just 1 year after the legislature allowed pharmacists to do so.  Run by the local division it was a grassroots type of organization and it worked amazingly well.  People really liked the idea of having all adult vaccinations available at their pharmacy given by people they already know and trust.  We branched out and advertised our services to larger companies who might enjoy having us come to THEM by providing flu clinics.  This too was a huge success. 

Perhaps too much so.

Once corporate saw that we were making a lot of money on this, they decided to take it over, and in doing so, ruined it completely for everyone. By changing the appointment system to the on-demand system, they made a mess of monumental porportions. I responded by making appointments priority and walk-ins like any other prescription drop off…subject to what ever wait time is in effect at the moment.  This is the short version of a long story.

Does that mean that we vaccinators flee with abandon and jump ship?  Not so quick.  I will be the first to agree that vaccinations are a lot of work.  They involve more time and effort than a routine prescription. However, that being said,  giving a vaccine is something that cannot be done without the human involvement.  You cannot script-pro or Parata a flu shot.  You cannot mail-order a tetanus shot.  It is also something that possesses a product-service link that cannot be broken.  For every person who has ever whined about paying the administration fee, I have offered the syringe, bottle and offered they draw it up and do it themselves.  So far, I have had NO takers.

Your patients see you in a different light. You interact with them on a one to one basis. You arent just putting pills in bottles.  100+ years of trying to advance this profession and people STILL think that all we do is put pills in bottles.  APHA? you suck. You suck at representing pharmacists and you suck at educating the public.  (but that is a post for the more politically minded)

As technology advances to the point where human involvement is needed less and less, we have to find niches where the human involvement is still required.  And YOU DEAR PHARMACIST need to find your niche.  I can’t be good at EVERYTHING.  I dont have TIME for everything either. Therefore you wont find me doing Cholesterol screenings AND diabetic screens/educating, AND MTM, AND vaccinations, AND etc.  I chose vaccinations and I do it splendidly.  Its MY niche.  If I had more time, I’d love to add Cholesterol to my repetoire.

 I gave over $100,000 worth of vaccines last year.  That covers a lot of prescriptions I lost to mail order.  It covers some of the prescriptions I had to give away for $4. And, no machine could have done it. 

I have gained a pretty loyal following in the process as well.  Over the holiday season I had many of my customers bring in their visiting relatives for flu shots!  “Come on Aunt Esther, lets blow off the mall for now and get a flu shot instead!”. I don’t pretend to understand it but its money in the till, and sales mean less pressure from above.

Like all things, this wagon may leave town. Technology may makes all vaccines ORAL..who knows?  I am sure somebody is working on it.  Til then however I am going to ride it for all its worth. This pharmacist is finding a way to make myself “Indispensable”, by either linking product with a service (like a vaccine) or supplying a service that cannot be duplicated by a machine. Thats my future.

And you? If you think your future is holding that spatula, you are sadly  mistaken.

I just about sunk the sink!

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 11:27 pm on Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pharmacy Chick is an intelligent woman, she really is, but she had a major blonde moment this morning. My apologies to all blondes everywhere.  I got to work this morning to see two big coolers sitting by the door waiting for disposal.  (why is it that nobody but the Chick gets the garbage out?) I pick them up and notice that they are still heavy with ice….DRY ICE.    My tech asked me “What EXACTLY is dry ice and why is it dry?”  So, I decided to have some fun, and have an object lesson.

I took the contents of both coolers and dumped them into the sink.  The white crusty stuff tumbled into the sink and when I poured some  water on top of it, it created a way cool effect as white “smoke” poured from the sink and crawled across the counter. I explained the concept that not all things boil at a temperature we know as “Hot” and that some things can boil at actually a very cold temp I told her about the 3 states of matter: solid, liquid and gas. blah blah blah. I marveled at my brilliance.

I told her to stir up the contents to hurry up the process and she said “I can’t, its frozen to the sink.”  I blew away some of the smoke to see this giant mass of dry ice and regular ice from edge to edge in the sink.  the water had quit draining.  C.R.A.P.  The sink was frozen solid…and the pipes below were following quickly behind.  Already it has become quite cold with some frost on the outside.  Think Harry Potter when the Dementors came by.. CRAP Again. If these pipes freeze and break I my arse is trouble.

“Gee PC, how’d you break the pipes?”  “Playing with dry ice…”  “I assume you know the properties of dry ice, PC?”  “yes sir I do”, “And still you did this?”  “Yes sir i did”.

We immediately went about the business of hacking the ice mess with spatulas, and scooping it back into the cooler. Pour HOT water, scoop, More hot water, more scooping.  Please God, do not let these pipes break…

It took about 20 minutes of hacking and hot water to clear out the sink.  I am glad to say that the pipes survived the ordeal. 

I told Tech Extraordinare, ” This is our little secret right?, we dont need to tell anybody right?” She agreed.

I don’t believe her. I’ll likely never hear the end of it.

Visiting history….Chick version 1.0

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 10:46 pm on Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Occasionally I get to work with an older pharmacist.  Of course, now that I am getting older, its getting rare that I have those occasions.  As it is now, I tend to be the “older” pharmacist.  When I do, however, I love talking about the old days, especially in the presence of the young’ins (interns and my young techs).

Its hard for me to believe that I have been counting by five’s for over 22 years.  For many of you younger pharmacists, there has never been a time where you used a typewriter, filled out Universal Claim Forms, or hand priced everything you filled.  Everything has always been “electronic”. 

It hasn’t always been that way.  Lets go back in time:

The first time I ever filled a prescription, it was in a lab…dispensing lab.  There were 30 or so stations with counting trays, spatulas, bottles and lids.  The “pharmacy” was behind locked glass cabinets, filled with long-expired drugs (used by many years of students) On one wall was a bank of typewriters and a stack of labels, the kind you lick and stick (hence the name Count n Pour, Lick n Stick) 

 Every typewriter had a metal frame that held one single label.  We slid one label into place and did our best to type our label perfectly.  Mistakes were not tolerated, AND you couldn’t backspace away your errors and retype. Once the ink hit the page, it was there for good. Talk about pressure!  There was nothing like KNOWING you had to be perfect to guarantee a screw up.

My first drug was Ery-Tab 500mg.  The sweet aroma of vanilla filled the air when I opened the bottle. Wow. Abbott’s signature scent. I still wax nostalgic every time I open something from Abbott. I don’t remember how many prescriptions I filled in that lab, but I’ll always remember the first one.

Every student did some time at the school infirmary pharmacy.  We didn’t fill very many prescriptions, but I still have one bottle from that era. The pharmacist (all ONE of him) kept all of his controlled drugs in a safe.  Thats how few he used. I remember seeing Quaaludes in there. “We’ll never use these”, he said. He was right.

My first intern job was at an independent in my home town. The store was long and narrow and the pharmacy counter stretched the width of the store. It was a classic drugstore; a little bit of everything.  I still cook with an electric frypan I bought there.  They had everything, including a grocery store next door for perfect foot traffic.

 You entered the actual pharmacy at either end and stepped up 2 steps.  It had the best view in the house. The patient came to a notch in the middle. “Would the defendant please approach the bench”…. The pharmacy was amazing because you could see no drugs. They were hidden behind a wall of cabinets.

 There were 4 typewriters on the counter, each attached to a huge roll of labels. (ooooh, self adhesive labels!)  I learned that perfection was not required and if you had a minor spelling error, it was better left, than redone at the expense of time.  We were busy, and was experiencing the best of times.

We handed customers their drugs in a bag with a yellow receipt attached, HANDWRITTEN with rx number and amount owed. We didn’t ring anything up.  That was the job of the clerks. The store set-up was ingenious.  You couldn’t leave the store without exiting thru a checkstand so theft was unlikely. Every prescription was hand priced. Every hardcopy had a Bates stamp upon it, and God help you if you messed up the stamper. We pulled  hard copy for every refill, and if the patient didn’t have their number, it was up to them to call the dr and get a new prescription.  In all honesty, it was a rare event when a customer didn’t have their number. Could it be there used to be responsible patients? 

There were no such things as patient profiles.  If you lost a receipt, well darn it, thats too bad, you only got one. There was no way to find and track that stuff. Eventually we got something similar to a giant rolodex. One page per patient and all it had written on it was their name, drug and rx number. It helped to find hard copies.  Man we were moving up with this technology, but keeping it up to date proved to be one more thing we had to “do”

Generic medications? No such thing. You used Tylenol #3, Inderal, Proventil and Lanoxin.  The word generic first came out when it applied to food: black and white cans of beans, corn, peas, and the like, in grocery stores. They weren’t always as nice as DelMonte or Green Giant: the beans might have a stem attached or the corn may have a miscolored kernel, but they were cheaper.  Considering the inferiority of generic food at the time, I am amazed they used the same name for substitute drugs. The stigma still exists, ironically.

The bulk of what we ordered, came direct, and we had accounts with all the major players in the industry. When we ordered Motrin, we’d get 15 bottles at a time. Those shiny orange 400mg tabs FLEW outa here. We borrowed from the hospital near by and they borrowed from us.  We kept a notebook “we owe this, they owe that”.

AND, everybody paid cash. By “cash”, I mean cash, credit card or check.  The pharmacy set their price and the customer paid it. No questions asked, no preferred pricing, no contracts.  Like any other saleable item, it came with a price.  You haggled at car dealerships, not pharmacies. This one pharmacy/drugstore paid the wages and supported the families of 4 pharmacists, 1 floor manager, every clerk, and still made a tidy profit for the owner.

These were the glory days of pharmacy.

Then, I saw my first PCS Card.

more to come.

A few absolute truths. (in no particular order)

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 6:22 pm on Sunday, February 15, 2009

It is said that everything in the universe is relative. If it concerns the universe, perhaps that is true, but in the Pharmacy Chick’s world, I can say I have a few absolute truths. I say this because I know myself pretty well and I am not fond of change, especially in the pharmacy. I started to write down a few things I found to be truthful about my life in the pharmacy.

 Your Doctor: Your Prescription: Your insurance: NOT my fault if you don’t like Your price.

I feel no remorse handing you back a scrap of paper with incomplete information on it if you do not have your card.

 If I tell you I do not have something, asking me “are you sure?” is not going to make inventory magically appear.

 Speaking of magic, this isn’t Harry Potter, and I do not have a wand–I have a spatula.. so I if I tell you to come back in 15 or 30 minutes, its not a ploy to ruin your day. It takes time to fill a prescription, and I’d rather not sleep in jail because I hurt you.

I’d get out of bed and come in at 3:00am to fill something for you if I respect you.

 Nobody works the Dr Call box harder then the Chick. It is not wise to ask me to call the office again.

 I hate price matching, coupons,  and prior authorizations.

 I’ll never be on board with corporate pharmacy decisions made by non pharmacists.

 I will always work to live, and never live to work.  Life is too short.

I am not impressed with money or fame, and will not change my behavior.

I prefer happy customers and will do everything I can to make you happy. If you aren’t happy, then you probably have unrealistic expectations or issues I cannot fix.

 Twenty one years into pharmacy and I still get grossed out when people cough all over their hands and money and then hand it to me. (where’s the rubber gloves?) I could never be a dr.

 Bribery with chocolate usually works.

 Telling me to rush something usually has the opposite effect with respect for my inclination to do so.

How you treat the clerk waiting on YOU tells me more about your character than you realize.

 Reminding me “I have to have it” has no effect whatsoever on when your Dr will call back on the refill YOU waited til you were out of to order.

 It is not, nor ever will be, my problem if you miss your birth control because you forgot to refill it on time.

 You lost, spilled, or otherwised destroyed the contents of your prescription,  not me. You have no right to be angry with me when you have to pay for a replacement.

 I get tired of recommending cough and cold products. (and vitamins)

You pay your doctor’s salary, not me so if you got a complaint about how long it takes for him to handle your refills, tell him, not me.

 That certain product created by a schoolteacher to prevent colds is junk and you will never convice me otherwise.

 I need a coke by 930 am or I get grouchy.

  If I tell you your prescription will be ready in 30 minutes and you come back in 15, it will not be ready…really.

 LIkewise, if you feel compelled to say “I just dropped it off, its probably not ready”, you are most likely right.

Friday afternoon is possibly the worst time to ask me to fax the Dr’s office for a refill.

 If you don’t speak English, don’t blame me if you don’t understand how to take your medication.

 Likewise, If I cannot read it , it will not go on any label I sign off on. I do not do foreign language labels.

 I will never like a third party auditor, or an inspector.

 If you bring me a prescription for something I don’t have, I do not have to drop everything to spend 20 minutes calling competitors unless I have time. Its a courtesy not an obligation.

 I do not own a functioning crystal ball: I do not know when your Dr will call back, what my competitors carry, or how much this rx will be on your insurance before I fill it.

 Don’t ask, hint or intimate, I don’t fraud insurance companies.

 I never knowingly short medication in a bottle. 

 Insurance audits assume you are dishonest and a cheat. I resent that.

I am an independent pharmacist at heart and always will be, but if I won the lottery I would walk away from it tomorrow and never miss it.

 I dont think I am alone about that previous statement.

I’ve learned that poor does not mean dumb AND rich does not mean smart.

I am a very good judge of character. I can tell the difference between a good person having a bad day and a simple jerk.

I always try to be nicer than the person I am waiting on.  Sometimes it doesn’t take much.

My favorite sound of the day is the sound of my key turning the deadbolt as I close the door.

Just in time for the Holidays: Baking disasters!

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 11:20 pm on Friday, December 19, 2008

Ok, We all have had them and now its time to fess up. Baking disasters 101.  Unfortunately I have had more than my share.  Lets just say I am a much better pharmacist than I am a cook.  I’ll never give Rachel Ray or Emeril a run for their money. Once I made pink macaroni and cheese. I’ll tell you about that later.  I do keep trying and occasionally I’ll whip up with something really special and complicated..like Rice Krispie Bars.

No, actually I can do better than Rice Krispie bars.  Sometimes however, it takes practice. 

My mother, God bless her, was a wonderful cook.  She had to be. Not only were things rather lean at our home, but Dad wouldn’t have taken us out to dinner anway. He hated to eat out. She could do amazing things with food. I loved her tuna casserole and hated her stuffed green peppers.  To this day I cannot duplicate her french onion chicken and I miss it terribly. 

I didn’t inherit her cooking skill, but to her credit, she did try to teach me. I give myself a C+.

This one earned me a F.  I decided to try my hand at candy making.  I had my mothers candy thermometer, my heavy pan and my directions.  I had to melt sugar into a caramely syrup.  The instructions said to constantly stir, so I did.  I stirred….and stirred….and stirred.  It started to liquefy and turn a nice caramel color but there was this small bit of off white that I couldn’t seem to get into solution.  So I kept stirring.  The more I stirred the more this white stringy stuff seemed to appear. I wondered if the sugar was crystalizing back out, but it couldn’t be, it was too hot.   I  just kept stirring and this white junk just kept appearing.  I had enough. This stuff wasn’t going right at all.  I pulled out the spatula and sat it on the spoon rest. OH MY,  there was about 2 inches less of my spatula than I had started!  I was dissolving my rubber spatula in the hot sugar.  Apparently “heat resistant” doesn’t mean “heat proof”.   Whups.  That ended my candy making evening..and the useful life of a spatula.

THEN, once I decided to make shortbread for a function I was attending.  I had made shortbread before, and in fact, I make really good shortbread, rich enough to clog your arteries right on the spot.  I had always used a brownie pan for making my shortbread but a friend of mine had gifted me with some new cookie sheets, the insulated Air-Bake kind.  Niiiice.  She said they make perfect shortbread.  I went thru all the preparatory machinations getting my shortbread ready for cooking, the whole batch fitting on one sheet, and put them in the oven. After 20 minutes or so they were done and I grabbed the cookie sheet and pulled it out.  I lifted on edge slightly higher than the other.  Before I could react, the entire batch slid off the cookie sheet and landed in a steaming heap on the bottom of the oven.  I never had completely flat cookie sheets before and I had never had ones so slippery.  What a mess. The whole thing was a loss, an hour of my time and a pound of butter wasted. 

Next time:  Pink Mac and Cheese and my Banana soup disaster.

I pass my melted spatula onto you–what have you ruined?

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