Poor Suckers Actually Believe This Kind Of Hype. They believe that their Junior College (Or high tuition for-profit school) is going to make them a “Pharmacy Professional” on day One. Most of them come out of “college” not knowing how to answer the phone, choose the right generic or how to fix a a PBM reject. Only three important aspects of the Technician’s job. What is really ridiculous is the expectations that their “college” brainwashes them to believe. They actually expect to make $16.00 an hour right off the bat. They expect their job to be “professional” and important. (First the job of a Technician is not a “Profession”. It is a “Trade”). Second, a kid right out of “Technician College” completely unprepared for retail. They need to be trained on-the-job. Why spend way too much money to go to a “college” in the first place.
All of the Technicians I work with were trained on the job. All of them are Efficient (They do things right). They are also Effective (They do the right things). All of them are “Certified” and the jury is out on the value of certification. Especially in retail. We have two girls in the store who are “Certified” who do not work in the pharmacy because they can’t hack it. Occasionally, they are asked to come back to cashier.
Now, a story that indicates that Technicians need to remember their place. They are not pharmacists and they need to mind their own business.
Sorry for the insult, but is it really an insult to point out the wart on the end of your nose, if there is a wart? The way this business is progressing (and the fact that the shortage is dwindling), do you believe that you can still make six figures if all you are is a “Warm Body With A License”? You cannot delegate your professional responsibilities and the Eric Cropp incident is a cautionary warning. You may not allow a child to die, lose the privilege of practicing pharmacy, become a scapegoat for the OHIO legislative and regulatory failures and be thrown into jail to do hard time and be a girly girl friend for a six foot five, 280 pound guy they call “Bull”, but your ass could be grass if you allow a Technician to do anything that comes close to practicing pharmacy.
Technicians can become really comfortable. They hear you saying the same thing over and over when you are counseling. What can be the problem with advising a patient with the exact words you use? First: it is illegal. It is practicing pharmacy without a license: Second: It diminishes your role as the professional. Third: the technician can get it wrong. Especially if the patient asks questions. Tom, a mature man, is a smart rat technician. He barely listens to them. ”You need to talk with the pharmacist,” he tells them. He gets an inordinate amount of questions because he is not a kid and they think he is a pharmacist.
I learned to listen to everything when I managed a small drug store in Pacheco, California. My ears were still good. I was in my early thirties. Age and lots of loud rock ‘n roll, back in the day, leave me saying, “huh?” “What did you say?” or “Please speak up”, especially on the phone and forget it if they are on speaker.
In Pacheco, I caught a pharmacy technician giving a personal friend a discount on an OTC item. A giggly blond stood off to the side planning a weekend liaison with a guy who drove a Corvette, dressed like Joe Namath and was married. They were meeting at The Sahara Tahoe Hotel at South Shore Lake Tahoe. I didn’t say anything until we worked together one evening. I was masterful bringing up the dangers of conducting an affair with a married man.
Too many times, I have heard a Technician giving medical advice and counseling on Rx Only or OTC drugs. That shit does not fly. I am all over them. Not on my watch. The pharmacist who overtly allows this or covertly looks the other way is an idiot. This is your turf. Protect it. If your don’t protect your turf, you may lose that turf. The entire profession could lose its turf. Our situation is precarious. Pay attention before the lemmings rush you off the cliff.
This weekend, the Technician was at the drive through and I heard this: ”Take one pill today and one tomorrow.” It was pretty clear what was being sold, so I asked.
I said, “I do not sell Plan B at the drive through. She has to come in and be counseled. I will do it all, including the cashiering.”
I got the distinct impression that the technician was a bit put out, but tough shit. I don’t mean to offend, but if that happens, the technician has a grandiose self image and that needs t o be squashed.
I have written about the value of Pharmacy Technicians many times. (Here and in Drug Topics) I believe that we cannot do without them. They are not paid enough. Period!
Counseling on “The Morning After Pill” is a no-brainer. You confirm that it has been within 72 hours of the event. You tell her to take with food to prevent nausea and vomiting. It is a hormone, after all. If she vomits in the first three hours after the taking the dose, she has wasted $44.99. She has to come back and buy another box. I make sure that she knows that her breasts may become tender. It is a hormone. I tell her that her period may come early or late. It is a hormone and hormones are the directors of the symphony. I ask if she has any questions. Then I take her money. (If the young man who enjoyed her impetuousness and lust does the paying, he is a very cool guy).
Now, this is going to get fun, you guys, watch the comments. In the past, I have “Punched My Ticket To Hell”. I Have been accused of being an atheist . I am not, by the way. My spirituality is my business, but it does not include Yahweh, Jehovah or God. I do not believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ or Mohamed. I was raised as a Christian in time when most communities were Christian. So, I quite naturally am guided by the rules, proscriptions and generosities of the way I was raised. That being said, I assure the young woman buying the Plan B, “THIS IS NOT ABORTION”. For some girls, this is a relief. Others, it is Ho Hum.
Later, when we were not busy, I said, “About the Plan B”. I made eye contact. ”You do not need to take that kind of liability.”
“How so?” (meaning what liability?)
“How did you tell her to take the second pill?”
Oh oh. I could see the wheels turning. Is this a trick question. ”Tomorrow.”
“No.” I let it linger like a turd in the punch bowl. ”Twelve hours. Whose ass goes down if she gets pregnant after not taking the pills properly.”
The eyes showed fear, danger, embarrassment. ”Mine.”
Yeah, I thought, but did not say, No, it would be my ass.
“You do not need that kind of liability,” I repeated. ”If the other pharmacists ask you to sell this, I recommend that you zip your lips and tell them to read the box. Nothing more. If she has questions, you call the pharmacist.
Think about it. Your professional life depends on your acting like a professional. If you think your job is minding “The Mill” and doing none of the “distractions” that federal and state pharmacy laws regulate, expect your wage to eventually be reduced to 60% to 80% of what it is now. Tell your husband that the BMW that he has been dreaming about may not fit in the new budget. That timeshare in Cancun. Sell it when you can get a good price. The golf membership? That’s big money that is the 40% to 20% that your non-professional behavior will lose.
The private school for your kids? Keep it. Your children must have a good education to survive in 21st Century America. But, Jay Pee. How can we afford it? By giving up some stuff.
The best way to get a professional wage is to act like a professional. If you get push back from your metrics-obsessed company, document everything and take our friend Pharmacist Steve’s advice . Send emails asking for clarification. Ask where you can find guidance in the company’s published Policies and Procedures. Always, as Steve advises, copies of everything goes to the company’s Chief Compliance Officer.
Pharmacist Steve is the National Public Relations Director for The Pharmacy Alliance. I will suggest to Steve that he writes a manual on how to do this. Steve is a very bright guy who has been around the race track a few times. It is guys like Steve who can help us get our feet firmly back in control of this game.
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