Driving home through the snow on Monday evening I didn't see many other cars on the road and and I wondered how many other drivers were also on their way home from work after 9 pm? The snow looked very pretty as it clung to the trees and fell onto the slushy roads. I played safe and drove steadily. My 15 minute journey took 25 minutes. I had no desire to end up in a ditch as round here the farmers do not clear them and they are currently full of freezing and dirty water.
By Monday evening I had worked four out of the last five weekdays, working three different shifts. One early bird shift, one siesta shift and two graveyard shifts. An early bird shift is he first shift of the day and means getting up at some God forsaken hour. The siesta shift covers the middle of the day and the graveyard shift is the evening shift. Some unfortunate pharmacist has to be there to over see the sales of Calpol, Benylin and Night Nurse in the winter and Piriton and Calpol in the summer. No two shifts are the same, although the routine is always the same. Standing for hours on end. Sometimes it is hot. Sometimes it is cold.
Last Friday as I worked the siesta shift I found myself thinking 'why are you doing this? you used to like it but you don't anymore.' I had started at 11am, by now it was well after 1pm, I had never stopped. I was tired and hungry and the prescriptions would not stop coming in. When was I going to get my lunch? Not until after 2.30 pm. Pharmacy has changed unbelievably, from the sedate and gentleman like profession that I was so proud to join over 30 years ago, into a money spinning supermarket side show.
When I qualified medicine labels were hand written. Most of the medicines, which keep the world ticking today, had not been discovered and nothing came in a blister pack. Hand written became typed on a type writer and now labels are computer generated, which is just as well as the clever computer has also been programmed with all possible drug interactions. Once I only needed to remember that aspirin and warfarin interacted. Now there are too many interactions to memorise. My generation of pharmacists were taught to formulate creams and ointments, triturate powders and compound suppositories. Skills which I have never used and we are no longer allowed to make up medicines from scratch. The patient has to wait a week for a contract manufacturer to produce them.
Today, I am expected to dispense a prescription at the same time as supervising the assistants on the counter and while also juggling the supply of the morning after pill, giving smoking cessation advice, handling telephone queries, repeat dispensing, minor ailments scheme supplies, medicines use reviews (MURs) and any other requests from customers for my advice. Oh, and in my spare time I need to keep up to date by participating in Continuing Professional Development (CPD). You may think that GPs do all of this too. Yes, but they only see one patient at a time by appointment. Every week there is something new to get to grips with. One of the most recent is Clamelle, an antibiotic for chlamydia, a STI (sexually transmitted infection). The diagnostic kit plus course of antibiotics cost a mere £45. Who is going to stump up for this when they can get it for, at most, a prescription charge of £7.10 from their GP or GUM clinic (genitourinary medicine). You think that I am writing a foreign language. Yes, so do I. Then, coming soon is Alli to help with weight loss. I am not sure who is pushing through all these new ideas. I think that it is a combination of the NHS, the government and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB). Now the RPSGB is thinking that its members may be stressed! It is a possibility.
My working life started in hospital pharmacy then I moved into the pharmaceutical industry before finding my way into retail pharmacy. On a personal level hospital pharmacy is he most rewarding whereas the pharmaceutical industry is intellectually the most stimulating. I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have set the date by which I intend to hang up my mortar and pestle. In many ways it will be a sad day.
Yes, and I'd hazard a guess that GP's are also paid a darn site more for their services!
It must be never-ending, doling out the pills and potions. Who picks the shifts? Do you have to share them around?
I bet you'll miss it once you finish.
Seems to me anything to do with medicine, the NHS, whatever is madly busy! Waiting for a blood test this morning the place was packed out, seats were at a premium, and this on a snowy difficult day!
But I still miss working in a hospital, even though I retired many years ago!
After reading this I shall be sure to be pleasant to or Pharmacist her in the village, not that I'm not already, you understand...All I can say is PHEW! and it doesn't end there I'm sure...forms to fill in, from Tom Dick and Harry for a start, then assesments and ongoing grievences with exstaff. I'm tired just thinking about your day.
You're providing a great service though. :)
That was mighty interesting. Had not thought of the pharmacist as being a human being before! I will have to bear this in mind next time I need anything there.
How interesting! You Pharmacists are very important people, I'd much rather visit you (and add to your workload!) than see a Dr. for a minor ailment.
The Dotterel - yes, indeed they do get paid a lot more.
French Fancy - I work as a locum. The employed pharmacists pick their shifts then offer to locums what they can not do. I can always say no if I do not want to work.
I can keep myself busy without working but I shall miss the people.
Gilly - I miss the atmosphere of working in a hosptial even though it is a long time since I worked in one.
MM - yes, most of us pharmacists are humans.
Moannie, Akelamalu & Suburbia - thank you for your kind comments.
I often think that pharmacists don't get the recognition they deserve for being a crucial link between doctor and patient.
It's such a pity that you are no longer enjoying a job you once loved. Pharmacists do a wonderful job - as my daughter recently found out. She is full of admiration and sings their praises loudly. A
I remember a housemate studying phamacological somethingorother at university, his lecture and lab hours were huuuuge. Lol, my Psychology degree was part-time by comparison...well it was part-time by any comparison! :)
All my working life, which is on hiatus since 2001 (likely to have to start up again soon), I worked with Drs in one form or another, but I have no idea about the world of the pharmacist. So now I know, thanks! :) They do always look so busy and harrassed in our local chemist.
Sounds a bit like banking, that's changed a lot too and lots of caring bankers left in the 80s and 90s apalled at becoming salesmen for financial products.
Regarding pharmacy, who knows more, Pharmacist or GP? At the hospital last month I ended up in the middle of a row between the doctor and the pharmacist who disagreed on my medication!! That fills me with confidence!
DMD & SJA - thank you for your kind comments.
Sarah - a Pharmacy degree is a degree and a half so much so that it has been extended from three to four years.
WM - pharmacists know more about some things, doctors know more about other things. Sorry to hear about your bad experience. It does not show either profession in good light.
Thanks for the insight into you life, will never walk into a pharmacy in quite the same way again...
I have always found pharmacists incredibly helpful and knowledgeable. It sounds like a very demanding job you have to do!
Hells bells. I've forgotten what the real world is all about.When you retire you get your life back but its too late in many ways. But mustn't sound morbid. thogh you might not like my latest blog1 Good luck.
Thames, CG & Ken - you would think that it would get easier as you get older but it does not. I am looking forward to retirement.
You have a very important job - I admire what you do immensely. Being an epileptic, I take 800mg of Tegretol Retard every day which my doctor thinks should be increased - I daren't go to see her these days. I just pick up my (free) prescription once every few weeks from the trusty pharmacy.
sounds like you need to regroup and look at what you want to do, what you want out of it, what CAN you change or do differently to Feel better!
or maybe thats to simplistic...
wish l could help
CJ - I hope that your epilepsy is being controlled.
FFF - thank you for your advice. I can not change the direction in which pharmacy is going. I am intending to look for something else to do, soon.
With all your experience, you probably could go into lecturing or teaching the subject.
congrats on POTD, well done!! He is always watching and reading you know!
David - thank you for the suggestion. I decided a long time ago that teaching was not for me. Really I am looking for something less physically demanding ie less standing.
FFF - thank you
You managed to make me feel exhausted just reading about your shift pattern! Hope you give yourself a pat on the back occasionally! x
you could write!
I hate the Hubby's shifts that rotate around and don't make any sense-- everyone is affected when someone has to work them.
We are still getting snow... I could get tired of it if this keeps up.
I meant to say congrats on your POD mention!
I have just retired from nursing. Not my choice and my profession has changed beyond recognition too. I feel for you.
I will always value pharmacists. I could not do my job without their expertise. They are not valued today in the same way as they were. :(
Over from David's - congrats on POTD
Any shiftwork is demanding, then compounded by standing on your feet, not even beginning to think how demanding the job itself is, I can understand that you are tired. I hope you find a satisfying solution soon, good luck!
Congratulations on David's POD award!
jinksy,CrazyCath & Merisi - thank you for your kind comments.
imbeingheldhostage - writing would be a good idea. I have done some writing for a pharmaceutical industry journal in the past.
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