The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail

The V Word!

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 9:29 pm on Friday, March 28, 2008

Pharmacy Chick Takes A Vacation:

Rumors about that the person known as Pharmacy Chick has escaped the confines of the pharmacy and gone on Vacation. Her coworker was reported as saying “She really needs a break, ya know. She is getting difficult to work with–uh, this isn’t on the record is it?” It is unknown where she has retreated to, but there have been Chick sightings from California to Florida. She was reported to say before she left, “Just try and find me…hahaha”. She is expected to report back to work in one week.

Chick will return in a week!

They cannot have it both ways

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 8:57 pm on Thursday, March 27, 2008

He came in and handed me the script. I knew what was coming. “Brand only” Okee fine, I have no issue with that. It what always happens next that drives me to distraction. Its the bitching about the price that he does. I can fill the way they want it–brand for $200+ for a 90 day supply of Norvasc or I can do $15.00 for the generic, same manufacturer.

“No, generic doesn’t work”. Then fork over the $200.00+.

You cannot have it both ways. Every time we have this conversation, its the same. They complain about how much medicine costs and every time I offer the generic. Every time they decline. This time they thought they would trump me. “Maybe we should fill our prescriptions someplace else” they said. “Ok, I’ll buy you lunch if they are any less there for the same thing”.

They are still here…and still buying brand. I am thinking they aren’t as awash in cash as they used to be because they never used to whine. Now its all they do. I can fix it. They just won’t let me.

Wish I had more days like today:

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 12:03 pm on Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wow, got home from work and upon looking back, today was pretty spectacular. I didn’t have to call one insurance company. I didn’t have one pissed off customer. Everybody I called to relay some news was ok with the message. Nobody was trying to drug seek on me and nobody tried to get me to price match CostCutter Drug. No one passed any $30 coupons for their HCTZ script transfer.

I had few waiters, and everybody was patient. Nobody whined about the cost. There was no email from corporate revealing a new torture (policy) they were inflicting upon me. All my split bills worked. I ate my lunch in relative peace. All my C-2 back counts were perfect. I even got in some items from the wholesaler that had been backordered. Woo Hoo!

I was waiting for a white dove from heaven to descend upon me and the Lord say “This is Pharmacy Chick, with whom I am well pleased” Thats how nice the day was. Even Chick’s boss granted her an audience and a special favor. I’m thinking “there’s nothing blogworthy today…” And, then I realized that the day itself was rare enough to BE blogworthy.

Wonder when the other shoe is gonna drop…..

T.A.P, I thought of you today

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 9:56 pm on Saturday, March 22, 2008

I had to laugh today. If you read blogs, The Angry Pharmacist wrote a blog about doing other people’s work, specifically regarding people who bring issues to HIM that really belong to the mail order pharmacy (read: competitor) from whence it came. Its rather colorful, if you know what I mean.

She approached me with a paper bag that she emptied on my counter. It contained a lancing device and a box of lancets. I knew her as the chauffeur for a family member who filled prescriptions at my store regularly. In fact, I believed that the stuff she deposited on my counter was for this family member. She didn’t know how to remove the lance from this device. It had been the lancing device for her brother and he had used the same lancet (!?!?) for years. Oh gag, I really didnt’ need to know that. He gifted it to her for some reason and she wanted to remove the old lancet and replace it with her own. She presented me the box of lancets. I flipped it over. It had a pharmacy label from Big Box Pharmacy up the street. All I said was “You got this at Big Box??”. I immediately thought of TAP’s blog. Her pregnant pause said it all. “yes”, she said.

I pulled the old lancet cartridge out, showed her how to put the new one in and sent her on her way. She was happy and I knew I had fodder for another blog post. Here’s hoping she replaces that lancet more than once per decade.

TAP, I tip my cap to you. Pharmacy Chick understands.

No room for bad moods–I live in a fish bowl.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 8:45 pm on Saturday, March 22, 2008

I have come to accept that more people know me (or know OF me) than I realize. Pharmacy Chick has worked in the same place for a dozen years. In fact she and her staff pharmacist are the only pharmacists this place has ever known. To complicate matters, I live, work, worship and socialize in the same neighborhood as I work. My “commute” amounts to 2 songs on the radio, and thats if I miss every light on the way there. I almost always at least SEE somebody I recognize every time I go out to shop.

While there are obvious advantages to this arrangement, there are disadvantages also. It seems that almost every work day, somebody comes up and asks me “Are you Pharmacy chick? Mrs Thwitpick told me you could help me” (or variations on that theme). It brings to the forefront of my mind that there are people who come to my pharmacy already “knowing” me to some degree based on whatever the Thwitpicks of the world have told them. I should be grateful that if somebody is coming in to speak to me specifically, they probably have a positive impression of me before they have met me. That leaves it up to me to make sure that I live up to that expectation…and I only get one chance…

The problem is that I dont always wanna be Miss Merry Sunshine. Who doesn’t wake up any given morning in a crappy mood? You know what I mean. You’ve been there; didn’t sleep well the previous night, fought with the spouse, had some personal crisis, dog peed on the floor just as you were leaving…who knows what it is, it could be some earlier customer that ruined the day.

All I know is that time and time again that I have been surprised to find only 1 degree of separation between two people I never would have linked before.

If I dont treat Mrs Thwitpicks friend right, its likely that I’ll lose Mrs Thwitpick also. Sometimes I don’t find out the connection between 2 people until AFTER the first interaction. It serves as a stern reminder to me that ya never know WHO KNOWS WHO!

What we give up for Lent…to…Good Friday

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 1:29 pm on Friday, March 21, 2008

As I revealed in an earlier post, Pharmacy Chick, in addition to being a phrustrated pharmacist, is also a Christian. (note: if you aren’t Christian, or you find fault in Christianity, you probably won’t be interested in the rest of this post..consider yourself forewarned, because I will delete comments that insult the Lord)

Mr Chick and I are not Catholic, but we decided to observe the Lenten season by observing a personal sacrifice of our own. Some years we do, others we don’t. We have given up chocolate, soda pop, this and that. Our lifestyle remained the same, we just “left out” this particular thing that we were giving up for the 6 or so weeks. This year was different. It was Mr Chick’s idea: “How about giving up eating out?”

Wow…now that was completely different. That would entail a lifestyle change. We have a rather active lifestyle. We are DINK’s (Double Income No Kids), so this provides us a lot of freedom that many people may not have. It is standard operating procedure for the Chick family to take off in the morning, play all day, then arrive home around or after the dinner hour. It may involve taking the dogs to the beach, or going for a hike, or whatever. Regardless of what we are doing, it usually involves eating out somewhere along the way. Plus, we just like eating out. Despite the fact I work in the same parking lot as a grocery store, my fridge is pathetically stocked. Its just too easy to say “Lets have Mexican tonight!” and I seldom get a negative response from Mr.Chick.

We decided on the ground rules. Baking a pizza at home? yes. Having one delivered? no. Coke at a vending machine? yes, Starbucks? no. The first day presented its first challenge. We had 3 obligations across town, that were going to take all day. While I was used to packing a lunch for work, I was not used to packing a picnic lunch for running errands. But we made due. We ate our sandwiches and chips in a parking lot and we didn’t starve to death. The first 2 weeks were the hardest. I had to plan, I had to have food in the fridge. I had to remember portable food when we were out and about. We ate a lot of bananas–a very portable food! We only had one exception to this rule, a night we had planned with friends back in December. Since we had cancelled once, it seemed the wrong thing to do to cancel twice.

Fast forward now 6 weeks. It was harder than I thought for the first 3 weeks, then ironically easier than I thought for the last 3 weeks. We have gotten used to this change. I have eaten a lot of canned soup and sandwiches at work, and I have a much better stocked fridge at home. Gone are the discussions of WHERE do we want to eat. We just know we are eating at home, period.

I am sure we have saved some money in the process, gads, we ate out quite often, even if it was fast food. Yes its been a sacrifice, but as it has gone along, it seems much less of one as we have gotten used to it. I thought I would really miss eating out after 6 weeks, but as I come to the close of Lent, I find I dont miss eating out much at all. In fact, I sort of lament the end of Lent.

It was a sacrifice I was glad I made, but in the end, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be–perhaps a grace gift from God. Jesus Christ also made a grace gift to me, but it was much harder than any sacrifice I could think up. Today is Good Friday, and 2000+ years ago at this time, Jesus was somewhere in the processes of the flogging and the cross. He was denied by his friends, spat upon, tortured and left to die a humiliating death, paying the price for the sins of all humanity. Thankfully the story doesn’t end there. He didn’t stay dead. My small sacrifice ends on Easter. His lasts for an eternity. Thank you Jesus.

Happy Easter. He is Risen, He is Risen, Indeed.

Don’t ask me to be dishonest for your convenience!

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 10:07 am on Friday, March 21, 2008

I met this guy many years ago. I’ll call him Stew, for the lack of a better name. He was a big chested guy, a salesman by trade, and by all appearances, used to getting his way (by bullied persuasion, if I guessed correctly). We met outside of the pharmacy, when he happened to notice I was wearing a shirt with his (and mine) alma mater on it. It begat a conversation that ultimately begat him coming to the pharmacy. For a while it worked quite well. Everybody is jovial when things are going their way. The wife was a sourpuss but she didn’t come in very much.

I seemed to have inherited an inordinately large number of high maintenance people over the years, those who have been disenchanted by the treatment they get at Big Box Pharmacies. And yes, I am a chain store, but I have always tried to create a friendly and intimate environment for my customers. I was grown in an independent pharmacy (cards, gifts, and drugs in the back) and only became a chain pharmacist when my options of independents ran out. I am, at heart, an independent pharmacist. I am willing to take care of these people…provided they don’t cross the line.

Stew didn’t require too much special care, but he was loud, boorish and impatient, which meant that nobody really liked waiting on him. The clerks became strangely blind and deaf when he approached the counter, leaving me (remember the drive-me-nuts posting?? read it) to wait on him most of the time. I didn’t care–he didn’t give ME too much grief. Must have been the white coat, or the fact we went to the same school that spared me I suppose. He did travel alot however.

Frequently he would call for vacation overrides, and with the insurance he had at the time, it was nothing more than a quick code entry on a screen and bam, he had his meds. He changed plans after awhile and getting vacation overrides became more complicated. Not only did they require a departure date, but they also limited him to a certain number of overrides (2) per year. Therefore, it became complicated. We didn’t want to waste any uneccessary overrides for him should he use them up before he REALLY needed them. The problem was, he didn’t grasp that concept.

As usual, he called early for his meds and they rejected. I called Stew and he said he was leaving on a vacation. I obtained his departure date and his arrival date. He was calling almost 2 weeks before he was leaving. I was sure he would be able to fill his prescriptions without needing to waste the precious override if he waited just one more week. He would still be filling them a full week before he left.

I called his insurance and they confirmed that he didn’t need an override and said they wouldn’t even give one to him because he didn’t need it. I thought that was interesting. Never heard that from an insurance before, I suppose to preserve the limited overrides he could obtain?? I didn’t ask.

So, I called Stew back, expecting him to be happy that he didn’t have to waste the override. I told him that since he was leaving on the 22nd, he could pick up this meds on the 17th or later. It was currently the 12th or something. He responded “ok then, I am leaving on the 16th.” I asked him, “Are you really leaving on the 16th now?” and he said “No, but when I come to you, I expect superior service, I dont expect to have to make a special trip to pick up my meds”. Special trip?-he lived about 4 blocks away, and it’s not like he was having to pick them up on the way to the airport.

I was shocked. I told him I had already called his insurance once, and I dont think they would believe me if I called them 15 minutes later and changed the date of his departure. I was not willing to lie to them. I tried to explain (again) that he only got 2 vacation overrides per year and there was no point in using them when he didn’t need to. He was on some rather expensive meds. Paying for them out of pocket would be out of the question. He was a bully, yes, but not a rich one. He travelled several times a year. This was significant.

I was there on the 17th when he came into pick up his prescriptions. He was as cold as an iceberg at the register when I rang him up. I wished him a good trip and he replied ” I want all my, and my family’s drugs transferred to Big Box Pharmacy by the time I get back” and he walked off.

I never spoke another word to him. I transferred his whole profile to BBP that very next day. A couple of months later I called BBP and asked them about Stew. The pharmacist sarcastically replied “Oh, THANK YOU for this one!” “Want him back?”

No thanks.

Now looking back I wonder, in the grand scheme of things, would it have mattered to fudge the dates? No, probably not. But it would have set a precedence. I would have lied to somebody to appease a customer. Every break starts with a crack. Every flood starts with a trickle. To me, he crossed a line that day. He sold insurance. Would he lie to the agency to get me covered, cover up some disease I had to secure a policy? Probably not.

So why is it ok to ask me to do the same? Little lies dirty the character as much as big lies. It just takes a little longer.

Would you do this do your patient?

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 9:39 pm on Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Today was a rather routine day, thankfully not super busy when we got the call. “Do you have oxycodone and morphine xmg, 60 of each?” It was our competitor up the street. They were out, actually they are chronically out of narcotics–we get calls quite often. They didn’t say whether the morphine was IR or ER so I told them to verify it and call me. Note: I didn’t tell them if I had either in stock, and they didn’t call me back. Twenty minutes later this pathetic looking man was at my counter, in a cart, obviously in distress. It was clear that he had been in the hospital. He had bandages over his IV line, bald (cancer?), awfully skinny, and his skin was a weird shade of grey.

” Big Box Drug said you had these” he said. Actually I had said nothing of the sort. Looking at the scripts, it was clear the morphine was IR. What he said shocked me. “I have been waiting in Big Box Drug for over an hour before they told me they didn’t have these.”

Over an hour. Now Pharmacy Chick has her own “angry pharmacist” persona when she feels like it. Just put me in front of some white trash welfare mom with an attitude and you will see it. But come on! If you have some guy who looks like he might just expire while he is in your wait room, getting discharge meds from a hospital, might it be just a teeny bit appropriate to 1) make sure you have the drugs before you leave him there for an hour and 2) perhaps boot him to the front of the line so he can go home?

After 20 years in this business, I may be a little low on the compassion side of things, but I do have a little left. I do however, have some serious common sense. Frankly, we all know that, if we MUST, we can fill a given prescription in as much (or as little) time as we need. I always try to under-promise and over-deliver. I am just not going to que this guy along with everybody else when its quite clear that he has a need that pretty much supercedes everybody else. In fact, Pharmacy chick has a few unwritten rules for who trumps who:

1. Blood–if you are oozing blood from your injury, you are likely not a seeker and will probably get pretty quick attention.

2. Vomiting–If you (or your child) has any risk of puking anywhere near my counter, I’ll likely trump you to the front of the line. Wait in the bathroom til I call you–oh, and here’s a towel–Pharmacy Chick does NOT clean up anything that does not come from her own body.

3. Cancer/Hospice/Chemo. Ya know, these folks have probably not had a good day…in a long time. Wanna walk a mile in their shoes? While I am not a believer in Karma, I do believe in the golden rule and if I was so sick that I needed a cart to get to the pharmacy, I’d be pretty grateful for anybody who could make my time there brief.

We had him out in 10 minutes. He was shocked. And grateful. He had no drug insurance so we sent him home with an application a free discount plan thru the state, and I gave him a fair price on the ones he filled.

And you at Big Box who left him there for an hour? Shame on you.


Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 9:33 pm on Sunday, March 16, 2008

There is a trend in the medical field that is spreading pandemic like the flu in February: The prevalence of international students (future doctors, nurses and pharmacists). I have no problem with pharmacists coming from all over the planet and practicing in the US. In fact, we can use as many RPh’s as we can to alleviate our shortage. I’m tired of having to ask for a vacation a year in advance.

What I do have a problem with however, is those internationals who suffer a poor grasp of English. We HAVE to be able to communicate effectively with both patients and other health care professionals. Almost every day I speak with a Chuy, Pho, Tema, Arjun, Sada or Habib. I don’t care where they are from, for in my opinion, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is this: can they speak in a way that is understandable to their audience?

English is my first (and only unfortunately) language. Because I am fully fluent in English, I can make out most words in a non-english speaker’s broken attempts to tell me something. Occasionally even I am stumped. I recently spoke with a pharmacist while I was taking a Rx copy. As God is my witness, I couldn’t understand half of what she said. I asked her so many times to repeat herself, she likely thought I was deaf! How does she communicate with her patients? More importantly, how does she talk to a patient for whom English is NOT their primary language?

It would seem to me that there should be something like a English competency exam, written and spoken. Don’t we owe it to our patients and fellow health care providers to be able to speak clearly and properly? We currently have the media splashing pharmacy errors all over the internet, and in doing so, making our profession look sloppy. Its time we step back and look at all sources of potential problems. In Pharmacy Chick’s opinion, you have the right to speak whatever you want in your home, but English is the current business language spoken in the US and if you are going to practice medicine or pharmacy here, you’d better be proficient (not merely functional) in English. Its a blessing to be bi-lingual, especially when you can use that 2nd or 3rd language for a non-English speaking customer. BUT, poor English diction should not be acceptable anywhere in the field of medicine.

Firmly on my soapbox.

Holy “Weak”

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 10:22 pm on Saturday, March 15, 2008

This upcoming week starts Holy Week for the Christian calendar, culminating at Easter Sunday. Up to this point, I have not shared with the World Wide Web and all 5 of you that read my blog, that in addition to being the Pharmacy Chick, I am also an Christian.

I have found that it is generally easy walking the Christian walk in most aspects of my life but one. Work. For some reason, I struggle mightily with being a Christian in my workplace. Day after day I endure (and “endure” is a good word) people who try my patience to its very frayed end. I am frustrated not only with patients but with other health care professionals (Dr’s and nurses) and with my staff. Its an uphill battle in quicksand, and all sorts of mean, nasty and ugly sort of things.

Customers never cease to amaze me with their ingenious ways to deceive. Whether it be blatant lies in their attempts to get narcotics, or mischevious attempts to fraud their insurance, I find it hard to “love” these people. Its always easy to love people who love you back. Its easy to love people to see things your way, or do things the way you like them. Its another thing entirely to love people who challenge you at every opportunity. Who wants to love em? I dont even want to like them!

Work is a frustrating place for me. Its a sacrificial job, everybody who reads this knows it. I get no lunches or breaks (except on mondays). I stand on my feet for 11 hours a day. I have been called at home, and on my days off. I walk away from a half eaten sandwich because somebody wants something. I drink flat soda because I can’t finish it. When I think I have no more to give, somebody asks for more.

But thats what Christ did, and He calls me to do the same. To God, I am not better and no worse than the drug seeker I find it easy to look down upon. We both need the Savior. I love my God, I really do. And for some reason He has me in this store, gutting it out day after day with a purpose in mind that is not immediately evident to me. Somedays I get a glimpse. Somebody will grace me with a box of candy and a very sincere thank you. Once I saw a mole on a man’s arm (I was giving a flu shot) that was ugly. It was melanoma and he got it cut off. He told me I saved his life.

Its still a struggle for me. I thought I would reach some spiritual maturity point where it would be easier for me to be this loving and caring person in the pharmacy. So, why is it so hard? Why do I still fail in that “love the fellow man” department? Sometimes I feel like a boiling pot and somebody is holding the lid down.

I’d like my attitude in the pharmacy to be more genuine servanthood and less oscar winning performance. Sometimes I feel that I’m a bit of a disappointment. I don’t want to be fake. The fruit of my spirit needs to have the worm expelled from it. Just gotta figure out how.

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