Monday, December 12, 2011


So I'm almost done with my first semester of pharmacy school and there's not much to show for it...

Work isn't too bad, patients are pretty nice and considerate where I work.  It's not a very good story mine, but it helps keep my sanity.  I'm becoming jaded less quickly and I somewhat remember why I wanted to go in this profession in the first place.

I'm making Cs in the most difficult classes, immunology and biochemistry.  I'm making the worst grades out of my roommates, so that's going to need to change.

I legitimately failed a test last Monday.  A 56% in immunology.  Not a proud moment.

I keep hearing:
"C equals degree!"
"What does everyone call the last person in the class?  Doctor."

I guess I'm just a little down because I could have done better this semester...  But could I have really?  I don't know.  I'm not the first, nor shall I be the last, to have doubts about this profession I'm stepping into.  I suppose we're all in this together!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Schedule 2 Mishaps

I went into work this afternoon and heard all about the weekend.  Apparently the pharmacist had someone arrested.

A person called in impersonating a doctor and attempted to verbally fill a prescription for a schedule 2.  When they came to pick up the medication, the police were waiting too!

Who could have thought that was a good idea....

Friday, November 4, 2011

Perhaps you should know where you fill....

Hi!  Lots has been going on since last postings: lots of tests, quizzes, papers, and articles.  I'm pretty much tapped out for the semester.

However, onto tonight's story: knowing where you fill prescriptions.  It's encouraged for people to fill prescriptions at one location so that the computer system and pharmacists can stop drug interactions.  It's so insurance information is all in one place (including coupon cards, yay!) and to develop a relationship with patients.

If you don't happen to fill at only one pharmacy don't be surprised to find that that automatic call is actually for another store altogether.

After a long day of grueling classes I came into work ready in a costume for Halloween!  During downtime I found a refill reject notice, so I thought I would be nice and call the patient to let them know.  The phone number was disconnected.  I made note of it and went about my works.

During the 5 'o clock rush the patient came up and said that we had called them on the phone to let them know a prescription was ready.  It was the patient that had the refill reject.  I showed them the paper and said how we had nothing else ready for them, so it couldn't have been us that called them.  Was the message from another day?  Perhaps we put the prescription back to stock...

Oh hell naw.  Screaming and basically saying that we were incompetent because WE called THEM.

"Someone needs to get their act together.  Whoever is making those phone calls obviously doesn't know what they're doing."

Now, I'm very prone to becoming flustered.  I don't like conflict, and I definitely don't like it when someone becomes angry with me.  I'm a huge people pleaser and I love when people are happy with whatever I do.  It certainly makes sense that I would choose "pharmacist" as a profession...  But at the time I had no idea how much abuse they receive.  Anyway, I'm getting better with my nerves.

However, I was absolutely flustered with this patient.  So much that I couldn't think straight.  It wasn't until they left that I realized that I had tried to call them and the phone number was disconnected!  If that was the case, then how did they get an automated phone call?

The pharmacist let me know that their prescription was called in by a doctor and filled at another one of our stores in a different town.

ASSUME makes an ASS out of U... and I guess ME.

They were going to call their doctor the next day to see what was going on.   I hope they felt like a dumbass for making a scene.  I am not omnipotent, but if you react civilly perhaps we can figure out what happened to the "disappearing" prescription....

I need to learn not to pigeon-hole answers to problems.  And if there is a problem, step back and take time to actually figure out an answer.  People would much rather have the correct answer that took a bit longer to figure out, than a BS answer that will just exacerbate the problems...

In other news, I successfully counseled a patient all by my lonesome self.  :-)

A 16-17 year old came up asking for an OTC laxative for her 14 year old sister.  I showed her the sennosides and then prompted to fiber pills for more regularity (after the initial problem is cured).  She looked at me skeptically and proceeded to grab 2 100 count boxes of senna and leave.

Guess it was that bad...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

"I'm tired of studying!!"

Hi again.  It has been a while, I know.  Things in school are quite overwhelming right now since it's mid-terms, but nothing that can't be taken down!

Last week before fall break we had 3 tests, 3 quizzes, and I personally had a presentation that Friday.  The presentation didn't go very well (go figure)...  The next week we were supposed have 3 tests in a row, but one of them was pushed to the next week early on.  Some people were unhappy since this meant that we would need to study during fall break, but overall people were excited to have somewhat more time to study.

Cue Wednesday: the day before fall break began.

We were meant to have a biochemistry test in the morning, then essentially coast for the rest of the day.  There were issues uploading the test onto the exam software that we use, so essentially no one was able to download the test either.  The teachers apologized and went to quickly print off paper copies of their tests.

One of teachers found an issue with her version of the test before she passed it out.  When she types in questions to the exam software she puts every correct answer in the "A" slot, and the computer then scrambles them logarithmically.  However, for some reason this does not occur when you simply print off the test.

Therefore, they couldn't give us the test that day, and it has now been pushed for this upcoming Wednesday.

Most students were understanding.  Frustrated, but understanding.  What can be done?

Cue our class vice president.

"This is BS!!  Why can't we take the test today?  I'm tired of studying!  We've been studying for the past week and a half, and I don't want to study anymore!!  I don't want to have to study over fall break!"  This continued for 10 minutes.

Needless to say, everyone in the class is embarrassed to be associated with her.  I have no idea how she received the votes of my classmates, but I'm sure they're re-thinking their decision.  She had a full blown-out temper tantrum and disrespected the professors.

Perhaps this is why we're required to agonize over professionalism in our two week orientation before classes begin.

In other news, I have become an official store intern!!  This means that I get to wear my nice white coat and pretend to know what I'm talking about.  I've been told that I can pass off any questions I don't know PRN.

I've also signed up for company insurance and a 401K.  My pharmacy school required me to have medical insurance before enrolling, so I have a cheap plan with a ridiculous deductible.  This should be more appropriate.  I feel so adult-like!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Gatekeeper of the Drugs

I answered the phone yesterday and talked with one patient who had had a Dr. call in a pain medication.  They had called to let us know that someone else would be picking up their medication because they were in too much pain to drive.

I relayed this information to the pharmacist who said, "Well, on their profile it says that only themselves and Erik are allowed pick up medication."  I was a good messenger and told the patient this, who replied, "Well, Erik is in pain as well and is not able to travel."  At this point, the pharmacist wanted to speak with them.

The pharmacist explained to the patient that since they put in a comment on their profile saying that only Erik could pick up their medicines, then we could really only relinquish them to Erik.  However, if this new person brought in the patient's ID, then we would happily give over the medication.  Oh, and we would need to take the comment out of their profile.

"Why take that out?!  I never told you to put that comment in there!"

"Yes you did.  I remember because it was when you were taking norco.  You didn't want others to be able to have access to your prescriptions."

"Well, I'm telling you now that someone else can pick them up!  Isn't that good enough?"

"Well, actually, I can't tell if this is actually you on the phone.  Anyone can call into the pharmacy.  Until you personally come into the pharmacy and change the comment, I'm going to delete it off of your profile.  I can't have you say, 'Lisa is good today to come in for me' and the next 'Todd cannot pick up anything!' and then change it every week."

"I've never had this issue before in Utah."

"It's for your own protection, sir.  You can either have everyone have access to your prescriptions, or no one at this point."

"Now listen here lady... *curse words*"

And after that the pharmacist told them to find another pharmacy because they would not be cussed at, and simply hung up.

I can understand both sides, but was it really necessary to start cussing?  In pain or not, that's unacceptable.

I am not a confrontational person whatsoever, so I worry that I've chosen the wrong profession.  I suppose there's confrontation in every profession, however.  Perhaps I can be a mail-order pharmacist.  From what I hear you don't have to deal face-to-face with customers ever.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tests and Such

Welp, I've now been broken into pharmacy school.  And I've been broken hard...

I had 2 tests last week - on the same day.  And then 2 more tests this week, also on the same day.  Lovely.

I did decently well in most of them, a B here and there and what have you.

Then.  Well.  Then, there was pharmacy law and immunology.

The pharmacy law class is a joke.  The information that we're learning is how many prescriptions were filled back in 2009, what the price of a prescription was, and how every other leading world country is beating us in the health care game.  That's great and all, but when you say you're going to test on trends, don't pull out a "I, II, III; I and II only; none of the above" question on specific statistics.  That just begs for most people to fail.

I kid you not, someone made a 45% on this test.  I squeaked by with a decent 75%.  Not my best, but that wasn't the worst...

Immunology was also super difficult.  I've heard where some people made 20% on the multiple choice portion, but fear not!  They have the opportunity to get 20 more points from fill in the blanks.  So yes.  They may be able to raise that 20% to a 40%!  Holy crap!

I have a 57% right now on the multiple choice.  Wonderful.

In other news: my significant other is starting a new job in a week!  They're moving a few more states down south, so I'll have a nice vacation spot in the winter!

I may need to start wearing my white coat at work.  My superiors have let me start taking prescriptions off of the voice mail, and man, doctors and nurses can talk quickly.  Consulting people about medications scares the crap out of me, however.  Once you put on that coat everyone expects you to know everything about medicine.

I suppose that's why they would call it "practicing."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

You Should Have Called Me...

I am exhausted.  I worked today and we were able to fill 381 scripts.  That may not sound like much for the macho pharmacies, but for one that usually fills ~250, it was a lot.

After class I walked into the pharmacy hearing this:

"You should have called me!"

Oh noes.  What happened?  Did we fill for the wrong drug?  Wrong strength?  Wrong amount?  Used an old insurance?

No, the patient was upset because we should have called them to let them know we were out of a medication and it wouldn't be delivered until tomorrow.  All well and good, except....

  • They had transferred this prescription from another pharmacy
  • We had never filled anything for them before and therefore we had no profile for them
  • We had no phone number for the patient
  • We had told the pharmacist at the transferring store that we did NOT have this medication in stock
The patient claims that we need to reimburse them for EVERYTHING.  They said that we should have called them, but how could we do that?  Why would they want to transfer their medicine without verifying that another store has it in stock?  Why didn't the transferring pharmacist explain that we didn't have it?

It just sucked 15 minutes out of our productivity.  We were able to find the patient a "partial fill" at a local store, but they're still going to transfer it back to stay with us.

I feel so loved.

Then for the next 20 minutes all anyone talked about was that patient, further sucking out productivity.  I sometimes feel like everyone is moving through molasses, taking their sweet time.

One patient waited 1.5 hours for their lortab.  They sat so patiently.  I kept waiting for the script to come up to be filled, but to no avail: it was stuck in troubleshoot.  I finally asked the pharmacist why and they said it was because it didn't have the patient's address written on the prescription.

I went out to them and wrote it down.  The medicine was done within 10 minutes (super busy night).

My store has a rule that if is a controlled substance we have to write down the patient's address on the hardcopy of the prescription.  That's fine, I understand (to an extent) the reasoning behind this precaution.

However, write a note in the computer SAYING WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE PRESCRIPTION and don't make a poor person in pain wait for 1.5 hours for their medication.

Also today in class we talked about why the pharmacist shortage is essentially coming to an end, but we'll save that talk for a later day.  I have 2 tests and 2 quizzes to study for...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Settling In...

So I had to work tonight.  I work at a large chain pharmacy ~30 minutes away from school, so it can take a while to drive there.  I transferred from my home state right before I moved to school but it is eerily similar.  Both stores were built around the same time and also fill around the same amount of scripts per day.

However, my former store was scarily organized and efficient.

The head pharmacist had slight OCD so when he was recruited from a floater to a pharmacy manager, he made sure his pharmacy would run well.  The store was to built from the ground up, so he had a chance to organize the pharmacy how he wished.  He didn't really pay attention to the building plans and spread out the layout as much as possible.

The drug shelves were separated so you didn't have to reach over medication to grab the bottles in the corner.  All of the fast movers were in the same pod.  Each pod had an identical tray, and each tray had identical spatulas, and those spatulas were the long and skinny kind.  Each pod had shelves to house the filling baskets, and sharpies galore!  Each pod had a sharpie.  The computer monitors were raised so you could always be aware of everything around you.  There were calculators at each station.  There was one fridge for insulin flex pens and various refrigerated medications, one for insulin vials, and one for over the counter insulin.  Oh, and there was another fridge just for completed prescriptions.  It was an amazing time.

Instead here, and this probably annoys me the most:  Each pod has different trays and different spatulas.  Only one tray has a skinny spatula.  No pods have sharpies, so you must carry them on your person.  Meh.

I have my first top 20 drugs quiz this Friday.  They are going to be OTC medications.

Patients here aren't nearly as... high strung?  Entitled?  Irresponsible?  I have no idea where I'm going to get writing material from in that case...

Monday, August 29, 2011

White Coat Ceremony and Other Events

So class began last week, but only for a few days...  I passed my first biochem quiz, and celebrated by receiving my white coat!  My family came to witness the festivities, and then I spent the weekend exploring my new home state.  My significant other and I went to the local run-down lunatic asylum for a tour, and finished by devouring artisan pizzas and pints of beer.

I am quite behind on studies already and all I want to do is procrastinate.  I suppose it's time to stop that sort of behavior...  I had another quiz this afternoon, and I will have another one in a few days.  I will literally have at least 2 quizzes and a test per week, which is motivating for the over achieving student who always wants to stay busy.

I got in my state internship license, so hurray for a pay increase!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earth Shattering...

Apparently there was an earth quake yesterday, but I never felt anything.  People 2 miles from me said that the ground moved.  *shrug*

Classes began today.  I think this year will be difficult.  We are going to have to work in groups for something called a "peripheral brain" project.  Basically we take all sorts of random, yet important, information from each class into a binder for easy reference.

The white coat ceremony is this Friday.  This whole experience is so surreal...

Monday, August 22, 2011

New Beginnings

Hi there, I'm a starting my graduate program at a school of pharmacy this fall.  I want to write about my experiences as I go through the process of getting my degree.  I enjoy reading many of the blogs online about the health profession and I hope to have great stories like theirs some day, but everyone needs to start somewhere...

To begin, I graduated from a very rural high school as Salutatorian in a class of 88 people.  I went to a large private university in the southeastern United States in the hopes of being chosen for their pharmacy school.  The two years of pre-requisites came and passed, but I didn't feel ready (honestly, was too scared) to apply for the school.  I continued on and eventually got my Bachelor of Science.  During my senior year of college I applied to the pharmacy school, but due to awful karma, things just didn't work out.  My PCAT wasn't sent to PharmCAS, which caused my application to be late, which caused my interview to be very late, which just wasn't good.  They told me to try again the next year.

 In the mean time I was accepted into the university's Master's program.  I wanted to stay within the school, as well as keep my learning skills sharp.  I really, really wanted to get into the pharmacy school.

I got a job as a pharmacy tech close to the school.  I  reapplied to the pharmacy school and got one of the first rounds of interviews!!  Unfortunately, I am a horrible interviewee when I desperately want something.  Once again the school told me to try again next year.  They didn't put me on waiting list or anything, just a flat out "no."

I continued my Master's degree and a few months later I heard from another university about my application to their pharmacy program.  It turns out that I never finished my recommendations (due to a computer glitch, no less) and they were wondering if I was still interested in applying.  Of course I was!  I finished it ASAP and waited, not expecting much.  A couple of weeks later they called and asked why I hadn't responded to an email.  They had sent me an interview invitation!  Interesting how it had been sent to my spam email....

The school is in the northern part of the southeastern United States, so my mom went with me to the interview.  I didn't care much about the interview, figuring since, once again, I had gotten the last round of interviews that I wouldn't be accepted.  A month later I still had not heard anything from the school and my mom asked if I had checked my spam email.  An acceptance email was there!!

And there began my trek into pharmacy school.  It's been quite surreal, especially since I am so paranoid that something will go wrong and they will revoke my status.  I had to take an online human physiology course to finish a pre-requisite and move 6 hours away from family.  I transferred from my wonderful tech job to another store in a completely different state with different laws.  I'm having to make new friends, and I live with roommates again.  Getting into school was difficult enough, but these next four years are going to be horrible.  I'm still trying to finish my Master's degree as a backup since I hear the pharmacist shortage is coming to an end.  I feel like a traitor to my former/current alma mater, but my alliances have already begun to shift.

Here's to the next four years...