The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail

My tidy whities

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 9:36 pm on Saturday, May 10, 2008

Pharmacy Chick has about 20 white coats. Its embarrassing to admit but I still have some coats from my school days. Its not like there is Haute Couture for lab coats-what changes from year to year? As long as it remains relatively white (“relative” is the operative word here) then it stays in the lineup.

I do actually have a few favorites that make it to the front of the closet. I suppose all of us white-coat-junkies are kinda picky about our coats. I am no exception. Mine have to have 3 pockets. I keep certain things in each pocket and I like to keep it lightweight. One pocket has 3 pens in it. the other pocket has certain papers I use a lot. I also have a receipt from 2 years ago for a bank withdrawal for some money I lent a family member. He still hasn’t paid me back, the deadbeat. And, in my breast pocket I keep my sharpies, the greatest invention since the counting tray.

Years ago I loved my 3/4 sleeve “Consultation Jacket”. Real impressive. It had a fancy lapel and I wore a multitude of pins on it. I kept it crisply ironed, but I eventually wore them out. I still have 3 of them (among the 20) but I dont wear them anymore. They aren’t real white anymore and have stains on them. Since they quit making that style, I went on a mission to find the perfect coat, hence the purchase of the additional 17. I couldn’t find any brick and mortar store to buy them so I had to look online. Unfortunately I was too lazy to return the ones I didn’t like them so they joined an ever growing collection in the closet.

Some of them were made so cheaply they felt like paper–gone, out of the lineup. A couple more were free from the company but had only 2 pockets–gone, goodbye. A few more were long sleeve and they were hard to keep clean on the arms. Ciao. A couple others needed more ironing than a Chinese laundry. Outahere. Then one day an intern passed by and had this zip up jobby that reminded me of a barber. It was plain, but I liked it. I ordered one…then 2 more, and they are now my fav’s. Short sleeve (one point), 3 pockets (one point), no buttons (one point), and no iron (3 points).

I finally decided to clear out some of the coats. There probably isn’t much demand at Goodwill for old lab coats so I retired them to the garage as rags. I still have a dozen that I never wear but they get to occupy the closet–I can’t seem to ditch a perfectly white coat. I just keep using my barber coats over and over. No fancy lapel so no more pins. I’m lucky to remember my name tag. Not much form perhaps, but 100% functional.

Which reminds me, I better get them washed before they qualify as a Superfund site….

The DEA-less Doctor

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 9:01 pm on Friday, May 9, 2008

Its a sunny Saturday afternoon and Pharmacy Chick is bitterly stuck at work. Gads we had a long winter and the smallest hope of a nice day brings a smile to my face that falls quickly when I drag my sorry butt to the back of the store to go to work. About halfway thru the day I got a discharge prescription for a patient that contains a narc. It was also signed by a physician who wasn’t kind enough to put a DEA number on it. I didn’t have this MD in my data base and I had never heard of him/her because there was NO first name on it. Graciously however this MD did think to put a pager number on the blank (praise God in Heaven for this small favor). Since our company highly disapproves of using fake DEA numbers (under penalty of death), I needed to get it. I paged the physician and about 10 minutes later she calls back. “Somebody paged me?”

ME: “yes I paged you, you wrote a rx for Vicodin for Mr Y at discharge and you didnt’ put your DEA number on it. We need it, may I have it please?”

DR: “I don’t have it memorized.” (like this will make it all ok? are you kidding me?)

ME (diplomatically as possible) : “Well, as you know, you have prescribed a narcotic, and it requires a DEA number to be submitted. So unless you wish to change this drug to something not controlled, you will need to find that number ……”

MD: “I work for (insert major HMO here)” Oh, yea, that helps.

Me: “Perhaps you can call them and they can provide it for you? and YOU can call me back” (I am not doing her foot work–she wants to prescribe narc’s she better know the procedure).

MD: (hmmmph, sigh distinctly disturbed tone now)”Alright then I will look and get back to you”

I shuffled around with this for about a half hour and thankfully the people planned on coming back later in the day–they wanted to deliver the patient home, etc. She called me back 45 minutes later and said “I found it!”

Great, now I can comply with the Federal Laws of this great US of A…and so can you.

Word of Wisdom from Pharmacy Chick– if thouest prescribe narcotics, thouest must provide DEA number. Put it someplace where you can find it, or commit it to memory.

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 6:41 pm on Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Pharmacy chick is rarely at a loss for words. After practicing for 20+ years, I have answers for just about anything. I am used to digging myself out of holes and looking like the winner. If I forgot to send the order some night and I had to call somebody to tell them that their item would be one day late, I could say there was a “transmission failure”. It was an honest truth…I failed to transmit, hence: tranmsission failure. Its all in the spin.

When I talk to customers, I generally try to speak in normal street talk. I dont want to talk over them, I want to speak to them like we were talking over drinks or something. One night I filled a rx for a med that was rather expensive. All the strengths cost the same so there was a lot of benefit in buying the larger strength and taking half-tab dose. When I filled the rx, I automatically subbed the higher strength and gave him half the tabs. When I rung him up, I explained that by doing this, he saved a lot of money, getting “more bang for the buck!” I said. I finished the transaction and sent him on his way.

I turned back into the pharmacy and my two techs were virtually ROLLING on the floor with laughter. “WHAT?” I said.

“I cannot BELIEVE you just said that!” one said. I had no clue. Then the sorry realization hit me.

The prescription was for Viagra.

Thank you!

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 5:11 pm on Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Thank you for your wonderful response to my request. I am encouraged that people have found and enjoyed this blog because I enjoy writing it very much. Some of you asked me to write on certain subjects and I promise I will do that. Susan wants to know if I experienced any discrimination being a woman pharmacist and Manu wants to hear about my days in pharmacy school. Both are great ideas and I will work on that.

I decided to write when I discovered Pharmacy Girl’s blog several months ago. From there I springboarded into reading other blogs and decided to jump in. So, many thanks again- now to think up more great subjects!

ps. its not hard to write a blog…hint hint!

Are you reading? Let me know.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 9:15 pm on Sunday, May 4, 2008

Ok, so I have been doing this for about 3 months now. Ive written a bunch of posts on a variety of subjects, and have tried to be interesting, funny and honest to a fault about the business of pharmacy and life. Its the first time I ever ventured into the world of blogging. Now its your turn. Is it worth your time to find my blog? Do you enjoy reading it? Should I keep writing? Am I wasting my time?

Even if you have never commented, I would like you to say something now. Tell me what you think. Anything you like me to write more of? Less of? How did you find it?

I spend a fair amount of time doing this so I’d like to get a gauge of who’s reading šŸ™‚

Gracias, Merci, Thanks! PC

Some Restrictions Apply: aka the “*” asterisk

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 5:05 pm on Sunday, May 4, 2008

Pharmacy Chick is not a cheapskate, she doesn’t like to waste money but she isn’t one to wear the face off a penny in my pocket either. She likes to buy stuff on sale (when she actually shops–PC doesn’t like shopping much either). However, in Sunday’s paper there was a huge several page ad for a department store for their Mothers Day sale. “BIG SALE” they said, and attached, wrapped in pink was a coupon for an “extra 15% off sale, new reduction, and clearance apparel, handbags and accessories for her, him and kids including fine jewelry, bridge and fashion jewelry*”

The dreaded Asterisk “*”. I pulled out my electron microscope to read the small print because there was a lot of it. Apparently there were some serious restrictions on this so-called “extra 15% off”. For your reading pleasure I will tell you exactly what I cannot buy in this store and my comments:

Excludes: Regular priced items (well, thanks, I wasn’t going to buy anything that wasn’t on sale anyway but that now excludes most things in your store), Cosmetics and Fragrances (so I cannot look or smell good on sale) Lacoste, The North Face, Burton Snowboarding(thank GOD I dont snow board), INC International Concepts, American Rag (I am not wearing anything called “rag” thank you) Impulse, Bridge Sportswear, swimwear, Kate Spade, Mephisto, Designer handbags(so they only meant CRAPPY handbags and accessories) and shoes for her, Coach, Dooney and Bourke (I thought they had already excluded the designer handbags, but we are going to mention them again), Levi’s, Dockers(which is probably 70% of the product line), Selected men’s designers (in case they forgot to mention any by NAME here) Tasso Elba and Material London sportswear, Vera Wang, Baccarat, Lalique, Lladro, Waterford (oh yea, I have that all over my house), designer bed, bath and table linens (but I guess the cruddy bed bath and table linens are ok), All-Clad, Henckels, Wusthof, ALL electrics and electronics, furniture, mattresses and area rugs. Not valid on Everyday Values(just on the stuff we mark way up), fine jewelry Super buys( So, its only on fine jewelry you have marked up to absorb the coupon loss huh?), Gift cards, specials, maternity, gift registry, previous purchases, or gift wrap. blah blah blah….

So the question that begs answering is: What is left? One small rack in the corner labeled “priced as marked” with a conglomerate of womens out of season clothing in either XS or XXL, stuff with a button missing or a torn hem? The coupon also states that you can get an extra 10% off shoes for her but then they specifically exclude shoes for her, so I guess that leaves me confused.

It basically leaves out probably 80 percent of the store. The entire 2nd floor is furniture, housewares, electronics and electrics, and everything you would buy for a gift registry (dinnerware, etc). So there is no point in even going upstairs cuz you can’t use the coupon there. Downstairs there is Cosmetics and fragrances, and shoes (whups, forget that…its excluded), all the handbags and jewelry (nope, fuggetaboutit). There is also the womens clothing but the stuff I like is either not on sale (exludes regular price items) or their private label Everyday Value (yup…exluded).

So whats the freakin point? To all you people who make these coupons, either suck it up and just give the people the sale price you allegedly advertise pre-micro-print or just forget about the damn coupon since there isn’t much you haven’t already exluded. Frankly don’t you think you might have used less ink if you put what WAS included instead of what was EXLUDED?

I stayed home instead.

Another reason to admire store “savings” cards

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 8:07 pm on Saturday, May 3, 2008

Call them whatever: club cards, preferred shopper cards, loyalty cards. They are the newest bane to our shopping experience. To get the sale price on goods nowdays, you have to be a “member” of the company’s “club”. I’d rather not, but I also want the sale price. It seems just a tad unfair that there are now 2 classes of shoppers: club members and the great unwashed. For the most part, I am a part of the latter when it comes to these cards. I have been coerced into getting the ones for the places I shop the most, but I don’t like them. Now I have reason to dislike them even more.

My neighbor works for a grocery store…let me rephrase that. My neighbor WORKED for a grocery store. She now works for somebody else. This happened a while ago and I only recently learned about it. I don’t make a habit of tracking the employment history of my acquaintances. As many others have, my neighbor’s (I’ll call her Stella) company initiated their own savings card. For a while it was a fiasco because in my town, respecting one’s privacy is a big deal. Every one pretty much minds their own business and most don’t appreciate intrusions. Therefore it was a hard sell to get people to put their name, address, phone, etc on an “application” for a card that now was required to get the sale prices that they got for “free” before.

It took a while but most people eventually signed up. Occasionally however a shopper would wander thru buying stuff who didn’t have this savings card. The checker was supposed to enroll the shopper at that time, and hand them their new shiny card. Stella was working one day and such an occasion arose. The shopper was traveling thru the area. He didn’t need a card. He didn’t want a card. He just had a few items which happened to be on sale. It was also very busy and she wanted to move the line thru. Stella grabbed a savings card from a nearby pile and scanned it to provide the sale price for the customer. He paid for his purchase and she put the card back in the pile. Unfortunately for Stella the customer behind her was a corporate employee with an axe to grind.

Get this: it was a violation of company policy to give a customer the sale price using a “generic” or “unassigned” savings card. He called her on the carpet for this and she lost her job that very day. I couldn’t believe what Stella was telling me. I shop at both this company and a competitor because one is close to work and the other is close to home. When I forget my card at the competitor, they have ONE HANGING FROM A CHAIN FOR THE CHECKER TO USE. But if I shop at Stella’s former store, the checker will get fired for doing that same thing.

I asked Stella if she knew she could get fired for that. She said “They told us we weren’t supposed to use generic cards for purchases. I didn’t know I could get fired for it”

In my company, there are lots of things we are “supposed to and NOT supposed to” do. We are supposed to wear black pants and shoes. Sometimes I wear a flowered skirt and sandals. We are not supposed to have any overtime, but sometimes we have to. I am supposed to file certain reports in a certain drawer, but I dont have room in that drawer so I keep them someplace else. I don’t think I will get canned for doing or not doing any of these things so this whole thing confuses me. I fail to see how one company can have a savings card hanging from a chain so nobody goes without their sales price, and another fires a checker for giving one traveler a break by giving him the sale price without an official savings card.

Personally I find it amazing that a company holds this infraction on the same level as, say… stuffing hundred dollar bills from the till down your pants, or coming to work drunk, or assaulting a customer. Yessiree, give somebody an undeserved sale price and hand over your apron and name tag please.

Stella still hurts by this dismissal. Its been over 3 years and she doesn’t like to discuss it. To her, its an embarassment to be fired. She found a new job and loves it. No longer does she pull groceries over a scanner. Her feet don’t hurt at the end of the day and she doesn’t live and die by the fickle whim of a corporate giant.

We should all be so lucky. Everytime I have to use my savings card, I think of Stella, and wonder how many Stellas they thew away.

I need more vacations.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 6:15 pm on Friday, May 2, 2008

I am gonna go out on a limb here and state that most of us who take vacations probably need a vacation AFTER we have cleaned up the messes and disasters created by those covering for us while we were gone. This is not going to be a rant about relief pharmacists. No way Jose, I am not cutting my own throat by insulting my fellow professionals. Its a hard sucky job. I run my store wonderfully, but I fully realize that if I had to walk into Big Box Pharmacy down the street and run their business, that I’d probably have it royally screwed up in oh, 1 hour tops. The fact is, every store runs uniquely. It cannot be changed. We will never completely standardize every single store in the chain, no matter how many corporate directives to the contrary. I must say however that I wish that more of my relief pharmacists would prescribe to “go with the flow” and work within the existing framework of the store instead of forcing my techs (who already know how I like the place run) to conform to a new and unfamiliar routine, thereby screwing everything up. That being said:

With the 5 total employees in my department, we have a combined 50 years of experience within our company, half of them in the two pharmacists alone. This means that we have accrued a significant amount of vacation time, 8 paid weeks between the two of us. Neither of us are workaholics that claim victory by never using vacation. I use every single hour of it. I earned it and I deserve it.

More and more however I am thinking I need to prepare my customers for my iminent departure. They just don’t seem to get it. Perhaps I need to create bag stuffers and distribute them a couple of weeks before I leave:

Dearest Customer: One of us is about to go on vacation. Because of this, do not expect that everything will run exactly as usual. In fact, it might actually get chaotic around here. It will likely take longer than usual to process your prescription. Thats just how it is. We’d be grateful if you’d make yourself scarce for a change instead of breathing down the neck of the staff wondering why its taking so long. The pharmacist you dont recognize will be a guest one day and the next day it will be somebody different. They do not know the store. They do not know you. They will not know that you go by “Scooter” but the name on your label is Harold. They will not be familiar with the store so don’t get your tail in a knot when they cannot tell you the aisle that the english muffins are on. Find them yourself or ask a courtesy clerk. Thats what they are for. The Pharmacist might not even be all that familiar with our computer system so if you need a prior authorization or a weird split bill for your loyalty card, accept the fact it probably won’t get done til we come back. Since they dont have any roots in the store they don’t have any particular allegiance to your needs so don’t expect them to perform any special services. Honestly, they are here just to keep the place open and legal… They may be unfamiliar but they are not idiots, so don’t lie to them. Don’t even think about saying “but Pharmacy Chick always does such and such for me”. Even if its true, doesn’t mean that they have to cater to your whim. I may do such and such just to keep you from throwing a toddler tantrum at my counter. I would also appreciate not hearing a blow by blow analysis of your miserable experience here at the hands of the relief pharmacist. It does not make me feel any better. It will only validate my opinion of you being an impatient impish whiner. If the pharmacist actually wigs out and calls you the impatient impish whiner that you are, then I will make a convincing but half assed apology to you but tell the pharmacist “way to go, gutsy dude”. In short, do us all a favor and cut us an inch of slack for a change. Thank you.

Oh, I know it will never happen. I’ll go away and come back to a weeks worth of unopened mail, a stack of notes to call a half-dozen people, and 50 phone calls within the first 15 minutes of my first day back (since everybody who asked was told exactly what date and time I would be back). This came to my mind today when I was fed a sob story of the horrible injustice a customer had to endure because the relief pharmacist changed (correctly) the quantity of a drug to meet the insurance company limits. The customer felt so wronged and didn’t appreciate my telling him the pharmacist was correct.

It will never stop me from going on vacation, but I’d like to have a little less anxiety about coming back.

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