Do you want to read wonderful, recognizable stories about how your colleagues experience this profession? Enjoy the stories and anecdotes from your colleagues at the pharmacy.
Pill peddlers or box pushers
Yes, you could write a book about the pharmacy. Ten books, even. A pharmacy can sometimes be likened to a pandemonium, making the job of pharmacy assistant one of the most dynamic professions out there. Before, we were called pill peddlers; nowadays, we are box pushers. I’m here to tell you we are much more than that. Whether you work in the pharmacy as a deliverer, pharmacy assistant, or pharmacist, we are always ready to help the patient as best as we can. Through good and bad times.
We work in the healthcare industry to help patients understand the correct usage of their medication. We do this by giving out information, and by continuing to talk to patients, loved ones, and other healthcare providers. We become pharmacy assistants because giving care is in our blood. With this book I want to proudly present a small peek into this incredible profession. I’ve been around for a while. But there are colleagues who are even more experienced than I am. This book contains many stories, from those who have just started out to those who have been in this profession for years.
Our profession has changed a lot over the last twenty years. Where we used to ‘peddle pills’ (prepare) all day, we now ‘push boxes’ (give pharmaceutical patient care). Communication has become the cornerstone of our job as pharmacy assistants. This has led to more discussions about the proper use of medication.
We work with drugs than can be dangerous in wrong dosages!
It is not without reason that the English saying goes:
‘BE NICE TO THE PHARMACIST, BECAUSE THEY CAN KILL YOU WITH ONE MISTAKE’
We are present from the moment vitamin K and D drops are given to infants, until the moment morphine relieves the pain at the end of a lifespan. Contrary to a nurse, doctor, or caregiver, we don’t stand at the side of your (death)bed. What we do is make sure the right equipment like bandages and drugs are available to you, in the right dosages.
We provide care in a different way. We never stop learning. Not a day goes by that nothing changes in the pharmaceutical care industry: something is out of stock, a certain substance has an undesirable effect in combination with another drug, and all kinds of important information that applies to our patients. It is a challenge to keep up, but we do so out of a passion for our profession.
We see patients after other healthcare professionals have done their job, or we see patients that bring their ‘healthcare requests’ directly to our counter. At a time like that, we have to check and see if the desired product is a good match with the patient’s data we have available to us. We assess whether the patient can be helped by us or whether they need to go (back) to a doctor. We give advice on self-care or lifestyle. With everything we provide, the handling of medication falls into our hands. That sounds simple, but it is a huge responsibility with many different facets. For example, we monitor drug delivery. Patients see us as medication-experts which can result in us being asked a lot of questions.
The logistical side of our job has only grown in size, which means we also receive the brunt of the complaints about that side of the process. We can feel ‘attacked’ when we provide explanations and information. It can negatively affect our relationship with the patient. Aggression seems to be on the rise in our profession. We can do something about that together; it has to end!
In the pharmacy, we have to deal with the rules and regulations that are handed to us by the government and health insurance companies. We have no influence over that aspect of our job. We are just the unlucky sods that have to make people aware of them. For some reason, we have acquired a whole slew of tasks that weren’t part of our profession before, tasks that have now become completely integrated into our job. To our great dismay.
For one person, we are their guardian angel; for another, we are that stupid bitch from the pharmacy. Yes, bitch, because unfortunately – and to my great disappointment – there are but a few men in this profession. I love to see men behind the counter. A team with a nice mixture of male and female colleagues is even better.
In this book, you will read about my education, my first hours in a pharmacy, and my job as a pharmacy assistant. Moreover, a couple of guest bloggers have been given a spot in this book. Through a survey with profession-related questions, small anecdotes have popped up from colleagues which has made it possible for me to shine a light on different aspects of the pharmaceutical industry as a whole. The book is divided up into different parts, based on work experience.
I’m curious to know what insights this book can provide for you. Will you let me know through an email?
This book is a real ‘must read’ for students who have just started their training and a real eyeopener for patients and healthcare providers. Many of the stories and anecdotes will sound familiar to those who work in a pharmacy.
I hope this book can contribute to a more positive image of the pharmacy assistant and the public’s understanding of the difficult tasks that are given to us. Here’s to hoping that it will be available in every waiting room and break room from now on!