The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail


Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 3:41 pm on Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!  The only day of the year where you can see a woman walking around wearing a viking helmet and a fuzzy tail and not take a second glance. ( unless you are in Dr Grumpy’s office where its likely a daily occurrence! )

Y’all keep safe out there with the kiddies getting candy!


Six hours

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 3:31 pm on Thursday, October 28, 2010

I wasn’t sure it would make a difference.  I  was wrong. 

If I was going to be wrong about something I am MOST glad it was about this.

For the first time since she has had a RPH after her name, Pharmacy Chick is working under than 40 hours a week.  Several months ago I went to my boss (like I had several times before) and asked for a hours-reduction.   I had been denied  everytime I had asked previously because they kept telling me its was “policy” that managers had to work 40 hours.  This time was really different. I was beyond stressed.  I was looking for a new job. I was ready for a psychiatrist couch.  I didn’t just want to reduce my hours…I needed to.

I also had learned that a couple of other managers had done the same. 

I  waited anxiously for her to approach the Division manager.  A week or two later, the answer came back.. YES.

OMG..she said yes.  I couldn’t be more excited.  Then I got nervous about it.  I did the math.  6 hours a week was a gross reduction of just about 1k per month.  That was seemingly significant.  I went to Mr Chick about it and he was ultra supportive about it.  He knew I was in a bad way. 

We decided to jump in and do it. I looked at my schedule and I chose to reduce by 6 hours.  I had to work at least 32 to remain “full time” and get benefits.  I chose 6 hours…dump sundays ( 6 hour shift) on one week..and work half day on a weekday the following week.

I threw out my schedule requests to the office and waited for what would happen.  I was expecting them to send it back with something like “we don’t have anybody”.  But it came back with all the fields populated with pharmacist’s names. on!

The first week of my voluntary hours reduction was a Sunday.  I left saturday evening, locked up the pharmacy and thought to myself  “wow, I dont have to work tomorrow”.  It was totally cool, but the day where it really hit home for  me was the NEXT week when I went to work on a wednesday (normally a 9-9 shift), and I walked out of the pharmacy at 3pm. 

Fast forward 7 months later….I love my new schedule…Its been the perfect prescription for this tired pharmacist.  We have done fine with income reduction,  I love the extra time I have had (more golf, more piano time), but most importantly, I feel like I have my sanity back. I feel like I am a better pharmacist (in a better mood), a better manager (more patient), and a better wife (less cranky).

The cool thing is that if I ever decide to return to 40 hours, I can, its not a one way street I went down.  Each month I send in my hours and they fill in the spots. If i dont send in the hours, then they dont fill in the spots. Lets put it this way:  I NEVER FORGET to submit my hours!

I don’t see myself going back..

Pharmacy Chick has Cellphonitis…I guess

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 5:38 pm on Monday, October 25, 2010

I think anybody who works in retail can attest to the irritation that cell phones can cause when people use them in the checkstands, in restaurants, etc..   We are all very much addicted to our e-toys.  If its not the phone, its some other electronic device we can’t seem to step away from.

I, like many others, carry a cell phone with me.  I love my phone and it buzzes frequently with people texting me, tho honestly it doesn’t ring much because txting is a bit easier for most of the messages people want to pass on to me. I also like it for the convenience of always being able to be connected if I have an emergency.

Last week, Pharmacy Chick decided to take a walk.  We have this walking path near our house that is like a nature walk…  Its like being in a small version of Central Park:  a natural area surrounded by urban life.  Sometimes this walking area is very populated with other walkers and riders, and other times a person can be very much alone. I set out on my 3 mile walk and about 20 minutes into it, I found some little thing that I wanted to take a picture of and shoot it off to Mr Chick. I went to grab my phone from the holster and realized I had left my phone at home.

Whoa. All of a sudden I felt very weird.   I didn’t have my phone. I wasn’t home…and today the path was deserted. I felt like I needed the dumb thing. Good heavens. Its not like the phone would protect me if somebody attacked me, but instantly I felt vulnerable.  I was “disconnected”.

How did this happen?   We never used to be afraid to be “sans phone”.  Mr Chick and I would take off on vacation, drive to nether parts of the country, without so much as a second thought to being away from a phone.  Hiking in the woods, jogging on a rural freeway, whatever…we were frequently “disconnected” .  Even when I finally did get my first cell phone, it lived in the glove box of my car, off 99% of the time.  we only used it to make an occasional calls and take with us on vacations when we might be separated from each other.

Now days I carry my phone on my person  all the time.  Not only do my friends treat my cell number as my primary number, they are also txting me all day, which works for me since I often miss calls I should be returning left on my home machine because I get home so late.

One of my golf buddies loves his phone..No actually I think he is IN LOVE WITH his phone.  Its like his umbilical cord to this world.  He is a kick to be around because every question you can ask, he will find an answer for…with his phone.  Need a college football score?  Ask John.  Need the name of some bird you just saw?  Ask John.  Have a craving for a quick sudoku?  Ask John, he’ll find one for you. 

I never thought I would hear my husband say (before my walks) “dont forget your phone”.   I guess I have suffered a paradigm shift!

I went for a walk today…

I remembered my phone!

A prayer with purpose

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 8:38 pm on Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pharmacy Chick believes in the power of prayer.  Now, I don’t expect every one of you to jump on this bandwagon, but if you are a person of faith, then you probably will understand my post.  One of the quotes most touching to me was from one of the Chilean miners who said (paraphrased)  “in that hole I learned to pray”.

Every morning I get into my car and I drive off to work….and then I begin to pray.  Basically its the same prayer every morning but it sustains me throughout the day.  Without God I am nothing.  It basically goes like this (with explainations):

Dear Lord (  the big cheese, sustainer and giver of all life..You made it, its yours, and if I am going to talk to anybody today I’d like to talk to you first)

Thank you for this day (  just this one…I can’t be concerned about yesterday..its over..and please dont let me fret over tomorrow,  let me be grateful for this one day, regardless of whether I am working or playing).

Please prepare my heart for what you have for me today. ( My heart is a fickle organ.. It likes its own way…its conceited and piggish and without your input and shaping would think that its the center of the universe, not you Lord)

You know what is going to happen today, but I don’t ( I know only which YOU allow can affect me today, because in your world, its already happened) So equip me to deal with whatever you have planned for me. ( I can’t do it alone,  I’ve tried doesn’t work, )

I would pray that everything I say and do would be to your Glory and Blessing ( I dont want to be an insult to your name by my behavior in the pharmacy.  Do not allow me to be less than what I should be in calling myself YOUR child, cuz I can be a real brat if left to my own devices) And let me say only those things that you would have me say (again,  eating my words is a bitter meal..if they are nasty, rude or thoughtless) Give me your strength and patience all thru this day (I have lots of patients…but man, I need PATIENCE) And let me behave in a way that glorifies Your name (because glorifying ME is a waste of time..and I am not worthy but sometimes my head needs to be reminded of that fact). Keep me attentive to my tasks and accurate in all my prescriptions (duh, that one doesn’t need any explanation…) and  I pray the same for my staff (cuz we are all in this same leaky boat and why would I think that I am the only one worth needing God’s help?) Thank you that I have this job to go to (because even tho sometimes I dont like going to my job, I am most grateful to have it…i mean, even Moses didn’t like some of the stuff he had to do …right??)and please Lord, be the unseen staff member with me all day today ( but I promise, I wont make you count, pour or counsel any patients)

I love you Lord Jesus, AMEN (my savior..THANKS)

And then, off to the races we go!

Call me back..please

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 9:02 pm on Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pharmacists spend a lot of their day in front of 2 devices..computers and telephones.  OF that fact there is no doubt.  Its no wonder that when I am off work, I’d rather not answer any more phones.  The telephone is an integral part of my day, conversing with patients, dr’s offices and insurance companies.  It works however ONLY when there is active communication going on both ways. 

Voice mail…for some it may be a great way to keep communication going when somebody has stepped away from the phone.  For me, its like an eternal black hole.  Leave a message and hope somebody returns the call.  More and more people screen their calls, and while I respect their right to do so, it irritates the heck out of me to leave 3/4 of a message only to have them pick it up in the middle and expect me to repeat it.

Likewise,  I often leave messages with the express purpose to GET  A RETURN CALL.  And can you believe how many people fail to call me back?  WAY MORE than should honestly.  In this age of HIPAA, I can leave only so much information.  Sometimes I leave rather detailed information because I am told to  “Hello, this is PC pharmacy, you asked to be called when your doctor called back, and he has done that.. your rx is ready”, other times, its rather vague…”Please call the pharmacy for an important message”. 

This time of year we are beginning to schedule out our flu clinics at various businesses around the metro area.  Calling my contacts is one of the services I provide to allow them time to select a date that works for them AND to secure prime dates that I know I can be at their clinic.  What is happening here however is 1) I call my contact and get voice mail…2) I leave a message telling them to call me back to select a date for their clinic…and 3) I wait….and wait.

To date of my 11 clinics, 6 of them have received 2 reminder calls each.  AND none of those 6 have bothered to call me back.  They aren’t getting a 3rd. Now if they dont want me to provide the clinic, fine..If they have another provider…fine also.  But I believe that AT THE VERY LEAST, a simple call can be made to tell me that. 

I call a doctor’s office to get a clarification on a hard copy and get some charge nurse’s voice mail.  I leave a message and a DEADLINE for when I need to have the clarification made… call back

I call a patient to tell them that their medication isnot covered and do they want to pay cash or wait…No call back.

Its one of those frustrations that can be avoided with just some common courtesy.  Call.Me.Back!   I am one of those people who return calls. Even if I dont have an answer..I will call just to let the person know that I am indeed on top of the situation but I dont have a definitive answer to what ever X is going on.  Its a simple courtesy….and it lets the person know they haven’t been forgotten.  We also call every patient for whom we have a prescription that is inventory short…”we dont have enough today”.  That way if Ms Pissy shows up and we dont have enough we can always say with honesty..”did you get our message?  We called at 1030 this morning to tell you we are short”.  They just can’t complain.

The flip side of the call-back issue of course, is the automated reminder calls our computer makes to tell people “You have a prescription to pick up”. They go out about noon each day..and about 1:30 each day the landslide calls start…” you called me awhile ago to tell me I have a prescription to pick up…..WHAT IS IT?”  sometimes I want to scream…”WTF..YOU ordered it..just come and get it!”. 

Man, I leave a personal, important message that I reaaaaaaallly want a call back..I get nothing…some stupid machine calls and I get a tsunami of calls wanting to know more…

The sound you hear is my head…beating against the wall..thump thump thump..

Sugar and Spice, Vinegar and Ice.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 9:02 pm on Wednesday, October 13, 2010

One of the difficulties in being a manager working in such close quarters with all of my employees is that we become great friends..and  I still have to be “the boss”.  This means that occasionally I have to put on the managers hat and make decisions or do things that may not always be popular with the employees….or sometimes I have to discuss behavior issues with employees.

Monday was such a day.  I have great techs, but I have one who in recent months has gotten a little moody at work.  Favorite customers get sugar and spice, not so favorite customers get more vinegar and ice.  Not quite “rude” enough to get complaints, but dancing  on the line enough to get my notice.  During these months I have tried to play interference, lead by example, and do everything in my power to make it clear how we treat customers, regardless how much we like them.  In addition she has been generally moody.  I know that we all have had our cruddy days. Sometimes we just wake up on the wrong side of the bed, but we must put on our oscar winning perfomances when we are in front of our patients.  The problem is, everybody has noticed…everybody has commented to me about it.  Time to deal with it.

Its just the way it is.  I  prayed about it.  I rehearsed what I would say..all about focusing on the behavior (not the person) know..all that crap they teach you in manager’s programs.  I had asked her previously if she had anything going on  that was making life difficult but she always denied anything was wrong.  Well if thats the case, then it was time to address the problem.   We sat down near the end of our day, I discussed my observations, I discussed the other’s observations,  I asked again, if there were work challenges that we could help with. She took it all in, seemed to understand what I was saying, said she would make the necessary improvements. I spoke to her about her value to the department and finished with  how much I appreciated what she brought to the pharmacy.  I left for the day, and she went back to finish her shift.   Everything is cool……or not.

Apparently she went back to work,  said not ONE word to the rest of the staff,  took care of a few customers then went home without a word. I was concerned enough to wonder of she would show up for work the next day..tho it would be most out of character.  She came to work without incident, but since that time it has been “vinegar and ice” for us and “sugar and spice” for the customer. 

So much for all that manager-speak.   She is most efficient..highly capable…a good heart.. a willingess to help out when needed…but BRRRR…its cold inside the pharmacy.

A new Job Requirement

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 8:53 pm on Sunday, October 10, 2010

I’ll let you in on a little fact..the Chick family is generous with their donations if you consider national average.  Without getting specific, we donate over 10% of our income to our personal church and charities of our choosing. The national average is of those that donate (and not all households do) is roughly 2.2% of their income. 89% of households donate to charity and the national average is around $1600 per household. We chose our charities carefully, try to be generous with them, and then deduct them fairly and fully under the tax code.

That being said, I will also let you in on another personal fact:  I get sick and tired of being solicited for funds everytime I go shopping or go to a restaurant.  Sometimes its subtle:  a jar by the cash register for you to put your excess change in.  Other times its a screen you  must answer NO to before you can move to pay for your purchases….but more and more often its a personal plea or request by a checker to donate money to whatever “cause” or charity is supported by the business that you have chosen to shop at.  I am not saying that those charities arent important.  I am not saying that they aren’t good.  I am saying that I dont think I should be solicited for funds every single time I go shopping or eat out. 

Its getting old..”No thank you, I already gave.”  I know the checker doesn’t care one way or the other, but I still am made to feel cheap because I didn’t “round up to the nearest dollar” and give it away.   My employer doesn’t ROUND up to the nearest dollar on my paycheck…my bank doesn’t round up to the nearest dollar when they calculate interest on my savings account either, but I am constantly asked to “round up” and give it away.  Frankly, it adds up and I dont get that tax deduction, the company soliciting the funds do..and all the accolades for raising all the money..”Look at our 2 million dollar donation to ToeNail cancer research”..

BALONEY!  its all of US that donated that, me and every shmoe that “rounded up”..or donated X at the cash register.

Last week, we got a notice telling us employees that WE are now “job required” to solicit funds from our customers. It will be tracked and measured…and appropriate action (whatever the heck that is) will be taken for under performers.

Isn’t it enough that my customers (patients) are sick?  That they are already buying something they don’t WANT?…Can’t afford? or didn’t ask for in the first place?

  Knowing that I was now fully on the radar of Big Brother, I started asking….I didn’t get the most positive response from my first  customer: “Geez, not you too..they already bug me up you have to bug me too?”  Sadly, YES, I do.

Here is my take on general charities:  I support my church and I support the Humane Society and our local non profit vet clinic and animal shelter.  I also sponsored a child from a far away country til she was nearly 20 years old..and finally stopped when I called them up once and asked ” Shouldn’t she be graduated by now?” and was told..”um yes..she has left the program”.  Gee thanks for telling me.  I also think World Vision does a great job and every Christmas I buy a cow or something…and I never pass a Salvation Army bucket without putting something in it.  However, I am just a tad tired of hearing about (and being solicited for funds) for breast cancer,  prostate cancer and Jerry’s Kids  fundraisers.  These have to be the most generously funded charities on the planet..there are few places you can go right now without being “pinked” to death.  Literally BILLIONS of dollars have been raised..

I used to watch the MD Telethon over Labor day every year when I was a kid..40 some years ago..still no cure.

I dont think there will BE a cure.. better treatments yes…but 100% cure…dont bet on it.

Dont bombard me with breast cancer stories, I have enough of my own from my customers.  My mom died of brain cancer..nobody is racing for that cure.  Nobody is wearing ribbons for the dogs that die in shelters every day because homes can’t be found for them. Who is rallying for the cause of any animal for that matter that is abused, neglected or ignored?

Well, I have veered off course just a bit with my rant here..but I think I have made my point.

Since when is that in the job description of a pharmacist?

Phrustrated with Phloaters

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 10:23 pm on Friday, October 8, 2010

Contrary to what I am about to vent about, I do have a lot of respect for the people to choose to float.  I just believe there has to be two classes of floaters…those who DO their job..and those that DON’T.    It seems that (at least at my company) floats can write their own ticket, cancel shifts on short notice, take days off when and how they choose without any repercussions whatsoever.  Take today for instance.  we had a tech scheduled for Saturday.  LAST saturday same tech worked and I CONFIRMED his shift for this Sat.  Done deal..passed Go and collected $200.

Doing thru the pile of faxes that greeted me at 8 am this morning I saw the daily “we need tech help” list that comes from the office.  Imagine MY surprise to see my own store on the list for TOMORROW…WTF??  I called the office to see if this was some mistake and they wouldn’t tell me anything other than the shift was uncovered.  First off, I think I have some right to know WHY a shift that was covered..was suddenly NOT.   AND, 2nd off I think that I should have been notified by some other means than by the daily list of uncovered shifts… All I got was a promise to try to cover it…..a promise to try  has about as much value as a peso in Finland. 

By the time 5 pm rolled around and the shift wasn’t covered, I knew we were in trouble.  One pharmacist and O techs on a saturday..not gonna work.  One tech said she would work..then found out she didn’t have baby sitter..and she had already clocked 50 hours this week…One intern said she would work called me back sniffling saying she had to study.  A second intern said she would work the last part of the day…and finally my last tech who has been coming in sick to work all week said she would cover 3 hours in the morning tops..leaving a gap in the middle of the day.

One person with a crappy work ethic ( IMHO) caused a cascade of problems for me and my staff today. I write my schedule a month in advance. Heck, I know my schedule a year in doesn’t change.  And you know what? I come to work…every single shift.  I write my tech schedule a month in advance and it doesn’t change much either..a simple 2 week rotation.  they know when they are supposed to work..and THEY come to work. Unscheduled absences among us get corrective action written up.

Why does not apply to the rest of them?  How many cancelled shift before one gets corrective action?  Apparently infinite.

Here’s my solution because it applies to myself and my own staff:  “here is your own schedule. It belongs to you.  You are responsible to cover this shift. If you cannot work you are responsible to find your replacement. If you do not find your replacement, then you work the shift.

Seems simple……sigh.

No wonder I live on Prilosec.


Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 3:31 pm on Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I know I have written on this subject before, but it really bears repeating given  yesterdays events at the store.  I never cease to be amazed at how completely rude and obnoxious one human can be to another when one is “serving” another in some capacity.  I have observed it at restaurants, on airplanes and if any of you have ever stood in a line at a checkstand, you probably have observed it there too. 

We had given Ms Biachi a  20 minute wait time for her rx. That was appropriate for the time of day and when she came back in 15 minutes, it was nearly ready but just waiting for the final check.  “Its NOT READY?? I Dropped it off 15 minutes ago and you said it would be ready in 2o minutes..YOU HAVE  5 MINUTES LEFT!”…  and she stomped off..

Well…at least she can do her f’n math.  Yes we do..we have 5 minutes left..and we used every second of it…all 300 seconds of it to do that final check. Thank you very much. Have a nice day and please, may the fleas of a thousand camels infest your tent this evening.

We cant react..We can’t talk back.  We are expected to smile and act as if this behavior is perfectly normal and acceptable.   Bullsh*t…thank you very much.  Just because you are a customer and passing some money across the counter doesn’t buy you the right to treat me or my staff like a indentured servant.

I called a Dr last week to clarify a script he signed off on (can’t say “wrote” because it was an computer written script). It was Bactrim DS, No. 20, 1 tab TID.  Anybody worth his/her salt would look at it twice because, while 1 bid and 2 bid are relatively common (especially with MRSA infections), seeing a TID script made me wonder if a keystroke error was at hand.  It  was an Immediate Care center so I rang them up, asked to clarify a sig and was given to the Dr directly.  ( I’m stealing from Dr Grumpy here…)  ” Dr Pissy, can I HELP you?”

“Hey, its Pharmacy Chick here and I just wanna check on this sig,  did you intend to dispense Bactrim DS TID?, I usually see it 1-2 BID so I am just making sure”…

“ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”  and I got a barely polite dressing down for wasting his time. “Are you aware how large these tablets are?” Um, well, since I have been dispensing them for 23 years, yes, but what has that got to do with the sig Dr Pissy?  Just.Plain.Mean.  Was this necessary? Was it appropriate?  He could hide behind his relative anonymity (and the phone) and be a jerk. He hung up before I could say thank you.

Whoever bought into the line “the customer is always right” probably never had to wait on them very often.  I am  a customer too.  When I take off the white coat, I become one of the masses who needs to buy groceries, get my hair cut, fix the car, etc… I know what its like to be on both sides of the counter because I have spent my life doing retail type work.It takes a whole lot before I somebody can get my goat. I have just been around the block WAY to long, so I cut slack where it needs to be cut and I rarely get my feathers in a knot  when some customer is a brat. What I become is STOIC to the situation.

BUT,  It always steams me when a situation arises and for whatever reason, if I am not able to do what a customer asks of me..some will decide to move to higher ground and try somebody above me…and play the R card..”oh she REFUSED do X and she was “RUDE“. The mere act of saying “no” makes me rude.   Guaranteed to get anybody’s attention in management…and immediate assumption that if I CANT do something, that I REFUSED to do it..and I am immediately RUDE.  And because whiners are rewarded in our corporate culture, this person will usually walk away with 1) and apology, 2) a promise to beat me to a pulp for my insubordination, and 3) some kind of gift card.

It is extremely rare that I have been in a store where the employees were rude….disinterested maybe, uninformed, lazy or clueless, but honestly, rudeness is quite rare from my personal view.  I see more CUSTOMERS taking the RUDE route way more often.  From talking on their cell phone while I am trying to counsel, to walking away in mid sentence, I am dissed almost daily.  “It will take THAT long to fill the script?”…”I can get it cheaper at Big Box, but they are out…”  ” What do you mean my insurance it dont know what you are talking about”. 

I was at a pizza place during lunch once and this guy was about to pop a vein because the staff made his pizza and missed some topping he claimed he ordered. OMG, it was embarrasing and I wasn’t even involved.  You’d think it was his final meal or something. He got his pizza free..makes you kinda wonder if that wasn’t his plan in the first place.

 The culture of manners, courtesy and kindness has been killed..may it RIP.