There are many things you learn on the job that you are not prepared for in your schooling or in your training. Many times its due to the fact that there is no other way for one to learn about such an item. I figured I would share to those of you who are aspiring to be a pharmacist as well or someone who is merely interested in this profession. Normally I bitch and moan about work or various aspects of the field in this blog, as do all the other pharmacy bloggers in the universe. Today you will find none of that. Today I shall write about one of the more... personal aspects of doing what you do.
First off if you wish to work in pharmacy try your best not to work in a Walgreens or Wal-Mart or Target or whichever. Find yourself a nice little independent store or chain and go and apply there. Why you may ask? Because of the people.
You see when you work outside of the Big Box Pharmacies you have a more one on one relationship with the patient. Sometimes this is simply because the pharmacy is open to the store and not closed off such as Walgreens and sometimes its simply because that pharmacy has stood in that exact same spot for 90 years (such as one of our stores). You have people who started going to the pharmacy when they where a child and who are still there when they are 70.
These are the people who walk in and you greet by first name. You ask them how the kids are, if they've been on any trips lately. You do this, not to be cordial, but because you are genuinely interested. Over a few years you become friend's in a way with patients. They bring in pictures of the grandkids or a story about the big fish that was caught the prior weekend. They will joke around with you, bake you cookies and try to cheer you up with a joke when you're having a rough day.
They are part of the reason I come to work every day. You simply do not find that kind of connection in all jobs. What other job can a patient/client come in and you know all their kids names, what TV shows they like to watch, where they like to go eat, etc, etc? These are people who when they need a prescription but are going to be ten minutes late, you keep the store open for them or deliver it yourself later that night. That is, in essence, what friends do.
There comes a problem with this connection though. One must realize that if these people are in fact visiting us that means there is something medically wrong with them. It can be something as simple as high blood pressure or something as frightening as cancer. You can watch a gentleman come in the door striding to tell you a humorous story and not even a year later see the same gentlemen wheeling himself in with a walker. I have watched one of the nicest men I have known progress to one of the cruelest because of a tumor in his brain. I have watched patients literally start to wither away over a period of years or even months. And it makes it very very hard to watch at times.
Everyone has those few customers that shine above the others. It is those few who make things difficult when something happens to them. When they tell you that have a terminal illness or succumb to whatever they had been fighting, it gets to ya. Sometimes you look up at the door thinking that patient is gonna come in and tell you one of the dirtiest jokes you've ever heard again. But they won't come through the door again.
Last week one of my favorite patients died. It was a sudden death, but a bit unexpected. I figured I would share this because I haven't really seen this talked to about to much.
So, Mr. L, this posts is for you.