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Friday + start of the month = very angry pharmacist

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The first of the month is always super stressful for pharmacists.  Not only are we usually busy, but it seems like everyone saves their shit/drama to explode on us.  If you think that I’m a callous asshole (and obviously are not a pharmacist because if you were you’d understand) then read on and maybe it’ll give you a bit of insight as to why not only myself but all pharmacists either drink or are on antipsychotics.

First thing in the morning, I have to do the backlog of call-ins from the answering mac-

Phone rings.. Pharmacist on line 1.  Mrs Jones needs all of her regular medications refilled.  She wont give any of the numbers to any of the clerks, will not give you the numbers, says “you know what I normally get” and she wants them delivered.  She mumbles like she has marbles in her mouth as the answering machine is blaring in the background because you forgot to pause it when you grabbed the phone.

-hine.  There are about 15 Rx’s on the machine, and after playing each about 4 times you think you can understand what they want.  You write down everything and start to fill them as people start to mosy around the store.  Vicodin, Soma, Vicodin, Soma, Valium, Vicodin, Soma you fill and fill and-

Pharmacist line 3.. Dr Dumbfuck’s high school dropout receptionist is trying to sound out amitryptline but it sounds like amultryptillyinyling.  She cant make out the strength so she has to-

Pharmacist out front for a question.  Some woman is bawling in front of you asking for her somas early because her grandbaby died and she has to leave for texas RIGHT NOW.  You tell her that you’ll be right with her as she gets pissy and yells and says that she has to leave RIGHT NOW.  You pull up her profile to see a nice array of Vicodin/Valium/Soma with a huge note that says “NO EARLY REFILLS PER MD”.  You tell her that you really can’t refill it early as she throws a fit that would make 2 year old proud right in a store full of people making you look like a complete asshole because HER COUSIN DIED AND YOU WONT FILL HER NARCOTICS EARLY.  You’re the only one who caught that her story changed half way through.

-ask the doctor for clarification.  You wait on hold trying to hold back the urge to scream at this ignorant non-english speaking twat but the Doctor is one of your heavy writers so you just bite your toung-

Pharmacist on line 4.  Dr Smith is on the line.  You tell your clerk to hang on line 3 while you talk to Dr Smith on Line-4.  He wants Wellbutrin XR 75 and manages to hang up before you can tell him that strength doesn’t exist. 

The phone gets thrown at you from your tech who is waiting on line 3 from you with Dr Dumbfuck giving you both barrels because you didnt understand his fucking daughter who must of just gotten off of the boat from India.  You make some backhanded smart-ass remark about being sorry for caring for patient safety and the horrendous idea of filling the correct medication and hang up on him.

-fill. (still with me? Good!)  You wonder if any of your patients are on any blood pressure medications or just narcotics.  You put the calendar you have right by your workstation in front of your monitor so you can count the days to see if people are due for their refills.  Notes such as “Wants to see if she can get early” or “Requesting early fill going out of town” litter your stacks of refill call-in requests that your clerks relentlessly place up for you to process.  Obviously you know the answers to these early fill questions already, but you pull up the numbers just so you dont put your foot in your mouth later on.

The more you process, the more the stack grows.  Your techs are a flurry of counting awesomeness as the printer churns out the labels like they are going out of style.  Wellpoint goes down, and your entire pill churning operation decides to start to nosedive as you make a stack of Rx’s to bill later when Wellpoint comes back up.

You take a few deep breaths to try to keep the wave of panic from destroying your day as your tech scratches your back in a half-ass comforting way-

Pharmacist Line 2…. Its Mrs Jones..  Mrs Jones got her delivery, and WHY IN THE HELL DID YOU SEND HER LISINOPRIL.  HER DOCTOR TOOK HER OFF OF THIS LAST WEEK AND LIKE HELL SHE IS PAYING THE $1 COPAY FOR THIS.  YOU TAKE THIS BACK RIGHT NOW AND SHE CANT BELIEVE YOU SENT THIS OUT *click*.   Life just got a little bit worse, you didn’t even get to yell at her to call in the Rx’s numbers next time and this shit wouldn’t of happened.

Pharmacist requested out front rings throughout the pharmacy.  A mother does not know what 1.0mL means on the TriVitFlor (for those who are NOT pharmacist/techs, TVF has a dropper that has 1 mark on it.  1.0mL).  You are walking back to your station as your tech screams at you to check off the counter-full of Rx’s filled so they can be put-

Pharmacist Line 3!  Its Mrs Jones again, she wants to know why her copays went up from last month.  You balance the phone on your ear as you try to check off the Rx’s on the counter so your techs can continue to work.  Mrs Jones is screaming at you like you are some sort of monkey at the zoo flinging poo at her.  You run to the computer to find her copays have not changed in 2 years.  You pray for either your death or hers.

You try to work on things throughout the day to have customers scream at you from across the counter as if it is their personal pharmacy.  They get pissy because they are going “on vacation” and need their shit RIGHT NOW.  You feel less and less like a professional and more and more like a fucking vicodin dealing slave.

You’ll feel anger towards your fellow man, that how someone that stupid can continue to pop out kids as if they have no idea how they are being generated.  You’ll feel disgusted at the healthcare system and allowing people who contribute nothing continue to further their own genetic legacy.  You bust your ass and are treated like shit so these people can live a “good life” without having to work one honest day, and they have no problem cracking the whip over your head for not counting out their valium faster.

The day goes on, you almost have a breakdown.  You dont feel like eating lunch because you are so stressed out.  Your techs try to give you some comfort and your clerks try to handle the brunt of the insanity of the public coming in but eventually the walls crumble.  After your day is done, you sit there alone in the empty pharmacy wondering why in the hell you went into this profession, where we went wrong, and how you can do this again.  You stand up, knees aching and back tingling and make your way to your car.  You sit at home and prepare yourself to do the same thing in the morning.

Ask any pharmacist out there who works retail, and they will agree that its EXACTLY like this.  Pharmacy is a interruption based profession.  You have no time to actually concentrate and work on something from start to finish in an environment that fosters good thinking.  You have people screaming at you, demanding things, bitching and blaming you for stuff that you have no control over (like copays and not-covered drugs).  You went to school to learn really complex shit to use in an environment where the only 5 min’s of peace is spent sitting on the toilet.

However, take heart that there are others like you.  Others that are in the same boat and feel the same way about work.  I, for one, take some comfort in that.

Comments #

Comment by on 2008-05-12 19:14:59 -0700 #

Amen, amen a-frickin’men!!!!! You hit the nail right on the head! Good post young Sky Walker! 🙂

Comment by Nhat on 2008-05-12 19:22:37 -0700 #

It’s a shame there’s no good way to educate the customers on the process of filling a prescription.

Comment by seRxy on 2008-05-12 19:27:46 -0700 #

i just wanted to say that this post is ON THE MONEY!!!!! its so crazy, and i would really like to see the hospital pukes handle this for one freakin minute! most of them admit that why they went to hospital was to avoid insurance and patients. and people wonder why pharmacists make so much …. ALSO i just wanted to comment on the fibro post, also on point. i happend to see a fibropod today and she was exactly as you described, short and fat ….. i chuckled to myself today

Comment by melissa on 2008-05-12 19:45:30 -0700 #

That is really sad that the most relaxing part of your day is the bathroom break..which you can barely even get because on the way to the bathroom you will be accosted by customers.

Comment by AssBustingTech on 2008-05-12 19:57:40 -0700 #

and the People said…. “AMEN!”

Comment by hannah on 2008-05-12 20:10:46 -0700 #

Man, I love you guys so much.
I recently switched over from my dad’s insurance to my husband’s — I’ve been on Cymbalta for years but my hubby’s new insurance wants pre-auth that I’ve tried everything cheaper (which I have) before I get my month’s supply of Cymbalta for $60. (Yeah, the fucking copay went up $10!) Of course, I didn’t know this before I tried to refill the rx.
ANYWAY. The pharm’s like “Well, it looks like your rx will go through the computer on your dad’s old insurance for $60. So we can get you that for this month and start working on the pre-auth on Monday.”
I practically crapped my pants with delight because my pharmacist isn’t going to turn me in for insurance fraud, plus, I won’t have to go through some terrible withdrawals because of his quick-thinking.
Anyway. I pretty much love the guy. I always try to be nice to my pharms because I know what it’s like to be overworked and underpaid.
But I’m kind of worried about my Cymbalta. I switched from Effexor (which after several years had begun to give me heart probs) to Cymbalta once it came out. Cymbalta works but I’m worried that my insurance will demand that I try the generics, again. To meet the pre-auth requirements? I went through most of your SSRI generics when I was younger. They just don’t work — but will my stupid ass insurance pay for my hospitalization because they wouldn’t pay for Cymbalta and now I’m absolutely batshit fucking insane? Otherwise, it looks like I”ll need to find a psych to write something official up because my daddy, who is an ER doc, has been calling in my script for Cymbalta (and my bc) for a hella long time.
That is all.

Comment by Pinkdanielle on 2008-05-12 20:20:54 -0700 #

At least you seem to have good techs that like you enough to try to comfort you.

Comment by RJS on 2008-05-12 20:30:42 -0700 #

Add this to the fires of your anger. Particularly the comments from the assbag MDs.

Comment by RX Cashier on 2008-05-12 22:19:40 -0700 #

And that is why I try never to interrupt my pharmacists unless I absolutely have to. They have enough to deal with, holding the line up front is the least I can do for them.

Comment by phunnypharm on 2008-05-12 23:01:31 -0700 #

I’ll second that AMEN! Especially Dr DF’s drop-out receptionist…I am not exaggerating to say I need to call the office back on at least 1 in 3 voice mail rxs,something is either missing or wrong. That is after I’ve listened to the message 5 times because she was talking faster than a hummingbird’s wings. One other special thing about the first of the month…all the people who were ‘dropped’ by their insurance…you know that is our fault!

Comment by Vampire Pharmacist on 2008-05-13 00:52:28 -0700 #

It’s nice to know we’re not alone out here. Keep up the good fight and good work TAP.

Comment by PharmAd4lyfe on 2008-05-13 06:48:14 -0700 #

Great post. Sums up the typical day in retail. I remember back when I was an intern and my manager was telling me about working on Sunday mornings, being able to read the newspaper, casually talking with customers. However, doing 400+ a day and dealing the the “public” really does make you think about wtf you went to pharmacy school…

Comment by Drug Dealer on 2008-05-13 09:54:19 -0700 #

“You feel less and less like a professional and more and more like a fucking vicodin dealing slave.”

Comment by one_angry_tech on 2008-05-13 16:43:45 -0700 #

And now Walmart is doing $10 generics for a 90 days supply..
The bastards are already asking if we will price match THAT.. and no, I can’t even get in enough 30 day supply, let alone 90.
Rat bastards.

Comment by PharmGamerKid on 2008-05-13 21:10:25 -0700 #

This is the reason why I’m going to work at the Kaiser CPP (consolidated prescription pharmacy) when I graduate. Sure it’s really boring and you just fill all day, at least you don’t have to deal w/ the patients.

Comment by Zafar on 2008-05-14 10:29:55 -0700 #


Comment by on 2008-05-15 18:20:53 -0700 #

Thank God I found this blog!!!…Here I have been thinking I am in deep need of some serious anger management, but you guys make me feel I am the last one to get in this long line. I have been feeling that 100k for putting up with bullshit like this is peanuts. If I could only describe the lack of respect we get…I’d go back to pharmacy school and tell all those fucking idiots (teachers and prospective pharmacist) that is not worth it. Not all the stupid schooling…or the “call me doctor” stupidity…is all a crock of shit.
I finally feel normal and sane..

Comment by on 2008-05-15 22:04:47 -0700 #

I can surely identify with;”You feel less and less like a professional and more and more like a fucking vicodin dealing slave.”I’m a RN and so many of my pts are drug seekers watching the clock that I hardly have time to take care of sick people and my work experience is a similar mayhem.What happened?

Comment by Alex on 2008-05-17 07:01:03 -0700 #

From a pharmacy relative in the UK you worringly accurately sum up the situation in retail pharmacy here also. patient getting items apparently for free seems to be a big problem, it allows demands with no value. 5000miles and the same attitudes. Sorry your SS system seems as wet as ours, with more reward no no input.

Comment by nobody on 2008-05-17 07:28:32 -0700 #

It’s a bit long winded, but maybe you just need some bran in your morning korn flakes.

Comment by Sabrina on 2008-05-18 14:19:54 -0700 #

Your excellent post about pharmacy day experiences on Fridays + first of the month was stressful just reading it through; my heart rate sped up and my hands started sweating. Question – so what is(are) the least stressful pharmacist positions out there for a B.S. + Pharm.D. degreed individual without any residency & some retail experience. BTW, working nights (been there, done that — not good for longevity of life). Thanks

Comment by emokidsmom on 2008-05-19 00:58:46 -0700 #

I am on four prescriptions. One for 20mg of fluoxetine, one for birth control,one for Qvar, and one for the albuterol rescue inhaler . That’s it. And, not only do I have the presence of mind to use Kaiser’s automated system for refills? I’m quite capable of patiently waiting in line, reading instructions, and, if I’m going out of town? Working WITH the doctor and the pharmacy to make sure I am covered.
It’s really not that hard. I don’t understand why some people have to make your life, and theirs, more difficult than it has to be.

Comment by Tech Beck on 2008-05-19 23:59:15 -0700 #

“You went to school to learn really complex shit to use in an environment where the only 5 min’s of peace is spent sitting on the toilet.”
You get five whole minutes? Jealous!

Comment by DB on 2008-05-21 11:38:10 -0700 #

You are my hero! Finally someone with the balls to speak out about what Pharmacists deal with everyday. After 10+ years of chain and independent retail work, now I only work retail on weekends as a per diem. Other than the obvious +20% $$ perk, this has the additional perk of not having to deal with any wankers that think the weekend is the time to solve any ongoing insurance issues, pending prior auths, early refill, or other issues more appropriate for the weekday staff RPh or manager. Having been a pharmacy manager and director for several years, I admit I get some satisfaction of getting to say “I’m unable to solve your problem currently as I do not normally work at this pharmacy”. This usually results in “the deer in the headlight” facial expression, as if I’m speaking a foreign language to someone behind them. When exactly did the general public lose their common sense and start expecting someone else “wipe their ass” (as you so eloquently stated)?

Comment by Stormcat06 on 2008-06-02 07:50:53 -0700 #

OK, you pharmacists are some Jaded individuals. So, because we have addicts in our society this gives YOU the right to treat me like crap? I am a legit chronic pain patient. In fact, I became this way helping to protect your RIGHT to freedom of speech and your mean nasty way of life… When the towers fell who did uncle same call to send to Afghanistan? ME. I do not call for early refills or do any of the “suspect” behaviors.. Yet I always get the eye roll when I come in ON THE DAY im due. Not a day before but to the DAY. Im on Lortabs which I always fill late because I never go through them all. Im also on the Duragesic patch(25mcg) and I CHOOSE to use the Mylan type for its harder abuse potential. I never demand I always ask and im polite. WTF is your peoples problem? You need to re think your behavior because it bleeds on honest people like me. If any of you have half the balls to respond I welcome you to Email me for a respectful conversation. I suspect though because of the meds I take you will instantly label me as one of the troublesome addicts and pass me off as such. If your in kentucky heck I would invite you to run a KASPER report on me proving im not an addict.
The Cat..

Comment by rphwgreatrack on 2008-06-14 10:33:10 -0700 #

no one responded to stormcat’s comment because pharmacists have no obligation to talk to deadbeat addicts once they’re off the clock …

Comment by Google Account on 2008-06-18 19:04:26 -0700 #

To Stormcat06:
We are not talking about you. The pharmacy I would at does approximately 600 scripts a day and we were voted “Best Pharmacy” by our community. I work very hard and am usually very stressed by my job, but I always have a smile and (very brief) polite conversation for our loyal customers. Unfortunately there are a lot of jerks who treat us like shit everyday and a lot of liars trying to get drugs for their habit and yes I have been scared for my safety at times dealing with these people. Sometimes we need to vent about our numerous bad experiences but that doesn’t mean I don’t treat our patients with respect.

Comment by amber on 2008-07-21 22:39:45 -0700 #

that is sooooooooooooooooo true!! sometimes in the middle of it all I just have to stop, go in the topicals aisle (cuz it’s the furthest away from the crazies) and just stare at the triamcinolone wondering why I do it to myself 🙂 glad to know others feel the same way

Comment by ann on 2012-10-27 23:57:54 -0700 #

The workload in my pharmacy is insane. We only do 200 a day but being so understaffed all the time, makes it feel like we did 500. Like the previous poster, I find myself too at the topicals aisle for a breather. Im just lucky if I ever get a break. Comforting to now that other people feel the same way but seriously looking for another job