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Sunday, March 20, 2011

One Of My Favorite Things

   I think one of my favorite things about my job is working with young people who are either in pharmacy school or considering pharmacy as a career.  The pharmacy students usually still have that warm fuzzy feeling about "helping people" which is refreshing (although sickening at times). They are young and bright and they keep me on my toes. I love theses people and I love being part of their education and shaping. In our area we have three pharmacy schools so I see alot of students. I'm also not stupid enough to think that I can't learn something from them.
   I also like finding young people to work in my pharmacy who are considering pharmacy as a career. I purposely look for this when interviewing for a technician spot. The one thing that has helped me the most in my career is that I worked in a pharmacy in some capacity since I was 13 years old. I knew what I was getting into when I headed off to university. Once there, my experience in a compounding pharmacy helped with my compounding lab and my calculations classes. I met many, many students who didn't have a clue what pharmacy was all about. They just knew that pharmacists made good money. Or I met the ones who didn't really like to work with people and they thought that pharmacy was a good choice. All they knew was that they could study lots of chemistry. I'm not sure what they were thinking they would be doing when they graduated. There are only so many research jobs available, you know. Anyway, working in a pharmacy is a great way to see if this job is for you. I like to think I'm a good influence on their choice because over 20 years later I'm still enthusiastic about this profession.
   However, I have had a disturbing trend lately. Every one of my "candidates" have decided that they don't want to do what I do every day. I think that's good in a way because it's better to find out now than after 6 years of study and thousands in student loans. Of course, each one has had different reasons for not wanting to pursue the career. I've had ones that just didn't want to make that much of an effort to study. That's great because they would make pharmacists who don't want to work. I get that. I've had ones that decided they would rather be medical doctors. That's great too, although I always point out to them that medical isn't better than pharmacy, it's just different. They still can learn alot by working in a pharmacy; like understanding what pharmacists can contribute to patient care.
    The ones that really bother me are the ones that choose not to go into pharmacy because they hate working retail. That's the one I don't understand. Oh, don't get me wrong, I understand not liking retail, but that's only one aspect of pharmacy. Not to mention that your role as the pharmacist is vastly different than your role as a cashier or technician. I also see a huge difference in my job and my profession. I can use my profession to influence my job and the atmosphere in which I work. That's up to me. So, I guess I just can't figure out where I'm failing these young people or where I may be misrepresenting my profession. Maybe I'm just in a slump right now, I don't know. I just really want to get the message out that pharmacy is a great and noble profession. It is worth the time, money and effort to become one of us. Retail is not the worst thing in the world and it's not the only choice you have. It was my choice, but then I'm a people person and I've grown a pretty thick skin over the years.
   So, please, if you're considering pharmacy, just step back and take an unbiased look at the profession. Try to get a look at other aspects like hospital or consulting. I was fortunate. I worked hospital, retail and nursing home consult before and during pharmacy school. Try to get a well rounded, full aspect view of this wonderful profession before making your decision. If you're already in pharmacy school and you really, really don't like what you see in this profession, then leave now. Don't rack-up those student loans just to work in a job that makes you miserable. Believe me you will take it out on your patients even if you don't mean to.  If you're already in school and you like what you see I welcome you to this profession with open arms. My best advise is to be flexible and open to change. Because this profession changes more rapidly than we realise and being open to change makes you a valuable asset to any company and makes your life a whole lot easier.
   If you're a pharmacist out there that has students or would-be students pass through your stores, do your best to put a good face on what we do. It's easy to get negative in this business. We often feel abused and taken advantage of. When this happens your attitude is what will be the lasting impression for these young people. The patient that yelled at you can be gone for hours, but if you keep ranting about it it makes the experience last a whole lot longer than it needed to. Shake it off and teach your students that this kind of thing can be survived and that how you handle it can influence the rest of your day either for the better of for the worse. We are the face of pharmacy and we can make a difference.