get me the guy in white coat please.....

I am afraid; terrified at the possibility of one day I might turn out to be a less-than-competent pharmacist. Prior to this, I have not worked along with a pharmacist who I considered to be a sub-par pharmacist. Legally speaking, they are fit to be a pharmacist, but do not expect them to know much about anything. Working with a pharmacist who dislikes being one all of a sudden does not seem that bad at all.

A pharmacist is an expert on drugs and a pharmacist do know more on a lot of medications as noted by Pharmacy Mike – We don’t realize how much we know. Being a student, I hate it whenever a customer knows more about a medication or a product more than me. I am the one working in a pharmacy and not them, I am supposed to be the drug expert one day, being involved in retails do imply that I have to know about a lot of other products not covered in my four years undergraduate course.

I am not giving them a chance to yell at me, “Why the hel* are you working in a pharmacy then?” I am not letting them think I am stupid, that I am not doing my job well.

A pharmacist I worked with ranted about customers expect a lot from a pharmacist, more than you would anticipate as a pharmacist, and no, the university did not prepare you for all of that, you could only hope that the customers are not going to ask you about the plumber problem or how to troubleshoot their car.

As a pharmacist, you have no escape, you can’t say the six magical words, let me get you the pharmacist and save your own ass. All men for their own but no one is going to save you. You are the pharmacist, right? Oh wait, I forget you are only a pharmacist because the law and regulation says you are fit to be one. How do you sleep well each night without worrying that someday you might just hand someone their death sentence because you are incompetence?

I regard highly a pharmacist who is willing to teach, someone I can learn from, a mentor. Unfortunately, I have seen many pharmacists, one that I would not want to be in future. I do not want to regard being pharmacist as a job, pharmacist should be a career and not having to deal with having an aversion towards being a pharmacist, I do not want to lose the respect of the pharmacy assistant I work with.

I will have to be a role model. Every mistake I make as a pharmacist could be fatal and they will have to be at minimal level at all time, no one would watch my back, double checking all my work because I am the pharmacist. Dispensing a medication with the wrong direction for use is not acceptable, especially when you are not overworked.

You are the pharmacist, not god but errors are still not allowable in your field of choice, and being lacking in ability is a choice, a poor selection.

running around too much lately?

Do you or do you not treat a non self limiting minor illness?

He came in asking for terbinafine once-only formulation. Terbinafine commonly used to treat athlete’s foot and the formulation he asked for is to be applied only once and it will leave a film which then releases terbinafine for up to 13 days. It costs more compared to the cream formulation which is to be applied once daily for up to 14 days and the public generally are not aware of the once formulation while others are skeptical towards it, most, however are put off by the cost.

I decided to spend more time with him as it was not that busy in the pharmacy. After confirming the classic symptoms of athlete’s foot with him, further questioning revealed that the most recent episode of athlete’s foot is a recurrent infection, not too surprising considering he is fairly familiar with the range of terbinafine available.

He does not resist much of my counselling so I took him through on some general points on self care before taking it a step further recommending pine tar gel to help with the inflammation and itch, to be used before applying the terbinafine. I glanced at his feet and he was wearing leather shoes. A chance to push the sales with miconazole powders I thought, might as well eradicate any possible chance of reinfection this time.

As he was getting more comfortable with me, he enquired about the amorolfine used to treat fungal infections of the nails, big toe and one small toe of his was infected. The reason he kept getting reinfected was identified at last. Amorolfine is only available as a kit and he complained about the product being pricey despite the kit should last him six to nine months depending on the severity of his nails infection. The longer he left it untreated, the more time and money he had to spend treating it in the end assuming the infection do not spread to the nail bed.

While the majority of untreated athlete’s foot proceeds to infect the nails sooner or later, this very customer keeps getting recurrent episodes of athlete’s foot because he left the nails infection untreated.

You just have to live with surprises working in a retail pharmacy, not the kind of surprises you want though.

i swear to speak only the truth, yea right.

Human lies for many reasons, while some have a noble motive behind it; others are just trying to get away with something. When someone walks through the door and come to me, they could claim a lot of things and I have no means of verifying that. Sometimes, they are bad at lying but that is none of my business. I might be suspicious but no confrontation would be needed.

For instance, customers could claim that they worked in a pharmacy despite not knowing the difference between phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine. Customer could claim that they are a qualified pharmacist so that I would not have to try to elicit history from them and subsequently recommend the most suitable treatment. They could claim that their child is older than 2 years old so I am to supply some medication to relieve their child’s cold. They could claim the product is taken under the recommendation of the doctor but the truth says otherwise.

Customers get the benefit of doubt most of the time. I did get one pharmacist came in and starts throwing all the azoles drug names at me, the ketoconazole, miconazole, bifonazole, clotrimazole and the terbinafine. He is trying to treat the athlete’s foot he had and I was still quite new to the field, and only familiar with brand names. After the request of clotrimazole topical cream, I summoned the pharmacist to assist. (The incongruent about the encounter is that the pharmacist isn't aware of the azoles available over the counter)

I do get customers who claim they knew everything there is about the medication; take it with food, two to start with, maximum of six. This phenomenon is more common especially if the customer is working as a naturopath practitioner or nurses, anything that could be associated with healthcare. No matter how comfortable I am in any particular drug or group, I always stick with; I do know quite a fair bit about - head lice treatments, NSAIDs, travel sickness but never, the word everything.

A doctor did prescribe himself with metformin and glipizide last week, and he presents me with the handwritten script. Handwritten scripts are definitely a pain compared to those computer generated scripts. He was first time getting his script filled at our pharmacy and thus I asked the customer to write their name and address in a readable form without adding that I could not read the doctor’s handwriting, and in this case, he is the doctor, his handwriting that I could not read. Glad that I for once, did not try to be chatty.

A customer on Thursday night asking us to quote a price on hepatitis B vaccine but upon enquiring with the pharmacist, he refused to quote a price but instead requested the customer to make an appointment with the doctor. The pharmacist on duty claimed that there are too many vaccines on the market to quote the customer every vaccine. A self-claimed doctor then showed up on Saturday asking for a quote on hepatitis B vaccine and I was regurgitating the Thursday night information before being forced (customer: I am a doctor myself) to approach the pharmacist on duty, and this another pharmacist quoted 24 dollars without any hassle.

Me: He claims that he is a doctor, you know. Hehe.
Pharmacist: Oh yeah, he is Dr. XYZ right?
Me: *shocked.* So he a real doctor?
Pharmacist: Yeah, we always get his scripts at the other pharmacy. 

Lesson number one - speak less and use the same time to accomplish more work, not everything is your business, at least not the part of unearthing the truth. Despite some of the words are less than convincing, they are still the truth nonetheless.
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