Where Are The Women?

Jp Enlarged

Where are the women when we need them?  When they need themselves?  Are they sitting back and hoping that the men will do it for them, rescue them from the seedy guy with the pencil mustache?  That is so 20th Century, you guys.  Let’s examine this.  Could we have a more formidable force to assert our rights and position in the chains  if the women were more strident?  Would we get more attention when the men and women hook arms to claim the profession as ours, not theirs.  That one won’t be difficult, by the way.   It gets sticky when we say, “The business is ours to manage, not yours.”  The Profession and the Business are separate and shall never meet.  The Profession is a stainless obelisk.  The business is just a minor rusting problem down near the base.  If you allow non-pharmacist forces to have any say in the conducting of the Profession, you are .. I won’t insult you by using the word ‘Idiots’.  A reader recently wrote and told me that my use of the word ‘idiot’ to describe any pharmacists was a insult.   I wrote back and told him, “No shit, Sherlock”.

Quickly, my column in Drug Topics has rules.  I do not use profanity.  If I insult CVS or the APhA, it is subtle and never a simple declarative sentence such as:  CVS is the asshole of our industry.  First, I know better and Second, Julianne Moore, the woman who polishes my diamonds, would never let me get away with it.  My columns are almost always submitted with 750 words, rarely any more or less.  Really, if it is 755, I’ll hunt down 5 words to delete.  By now, 24 years later, you would be amazed to see my work come out at 750 words without trying.  In a word, my “JP at Large” columns are disciplined.  Not here. My blog posts are anything but disciplined.   To this point here, I have 316 words and I haven’t even started really.  I just wanted you to know the difference.  

Back to the influence of women on our profession and business, actually I prefer to call the two of them together, our industry.  We have not captained the ship for, it feels like, a long time.  Female pharmacists can change this.

I have never been an authentic follower of astrology, but I really believe that the Age of Pisces ended at Y2K and we are both feet, spirit and body into the Age of Aquarius.  These periods are 2,000 years.  The Age of Pisces was 2,000 years of stealth, lying, manipulation and, I’ll jump to, subjugation of women.  Women were squashed, crushed, held down. treated as objects and used by men for pleasure, political gain and as the workers who kept the households neat, clean and peaceful.  Female pharmacists were a rare phenomena.  As late as 1995, I was given a ration by a non-pharmacist store manager because I hired a woman (who was clearly the better candidate) rather than the man he preferred.  At Y2K, it really was the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.  Just look At the Supreme Court.  Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg.  Nearing the end of the Age of Pisces, Sandra Day O’Connor graduated from  Stanford Law School third in her class in 1952.  But Yipes.. This is from Wikipedia:  After graduation from law school, at least 40 law firms refused to interview her for a position as an attorney because she was a woman.  She eventually found employment as a deputy county attorney in San Mateo, California, after she offered to work for no salary and without an office, sharing space with a secretary.  The Age of Pisces.

You would have to be blind, dumb and an idiot not to see the difference that the dawning of  the Age of Aquarius is showing.  Elizabeth Warren.  Hillary.  The only that are still holding on to Pisces are religious institutions.  In America, notably the Roman Catholic Church and .. you would have to be a double idiot to not have noticed Jorge Mario Bergoglio.  Even the Mormons, who  famously subjugated women to the point that LDS wives believed that it was their duty to engage in sex whether they wanted to or not, have loosened up some.   Females with muscles are fire fighters, police officers and carpenters.  The military has authorized women to actually be assigned to combat groups.  Officially, for the first time, women can fight the enemy and kill and be killed.   Women are physicians, lawyers and pharmacists.  There are more females entering our industry than males these days.  There was one girl in my graduating class of 20.

This is the Age of Aquarius, girls.  2,000 years of truth rather than lies, fairness rather than cheating (Remind CVS),  the empowerment of women rather than squashing them.  It is time for you to step up and engage in the guerrilla war with me, Steve, Goose and Peon among others.  It should be clear that we cannot do this without you.  You represent more than one-half of our profession.  We need you if we are going to win this thing.  The boys cannot do this alone.  

I know that all of you were born in Pisces and were influenced by the powers of that Age.  You can start by STOPPING saying “I’m sorry” when it is not your fault and you didn’t do anything wrong.  Think about that.  Please step away from your childhood view of yourselves.   If you had a dominating male (father, step-father, teacher, or others like a Priest) influence in your life, step away from it.  You are no longer a child and we need for all of you to start asserting yourselves.  You can do this.  I know you can.  I have seen women RPhs bring non-pharmacist managers to their knees.  Not often enough because I still see trembling, weepy little girls of age 35 allowing male non-pharmacist managers to mangle their self esteem.   

I am inviting you to step up and join the fighters.  The satisfaction is enormous and there will be change when enough men and women start demanding respect and autonomy.   This will not be easy, but it is guaranteed if enough of us band together and demand what is ours.  We are PHARMACISTS and it is called PHARMACY.  

Women have an edge.  Sexual harassment.  This is no joke.  Men can use this weapon also, but the effect that you get is exponentially more powerful than what I could get.  A simple thing as a non-pharmacist saying, “Hey, Honey. is enough to put you in a position where the company CANNOT retaliate.  You could be totally protected, unless you do something really stupid.  Let’s pretend you work for Walgreens and a manager calls you “Honey”.  

 All you do is say, (Preferably with a witness or your phone clicked on ‘Voice Record’) “Tom, I don’t like your calling me ‘Honey’.  Please stop”.

The next time he calls you “Honey” (having a witness will help) all you do is write a letter of complaint to Laura Merten, Chief Compliance Officer.  Laura is Walgreens’ TOP COP.  (Every company has one.  Some call Head of HR)  It is Laura’s job to make sure that Walgreens is protected from stupidity that could cost them a lot of money.  I guarantee that when Laura Merten gets your letter, Tom’s ass is grass and he will keep away from you.  His job is in danger and if you charge him with retaliation, imagine what Laura Merten does then.

In the guerrilla war, women have weapons that men can only dream of.  If we are going to solidify the fact that the profession is ours, period, no argument…. we need the women to join the battle.  If we are going to have any hope of  just having a spot at the business table, we need the women to step up.  Come on, let’s get going.

I have for sale a pamphlet entitled “Basic Strategy to thrive as a Retail Pharmacist.  Protect Yourself Legally”.   I have added an in depth Appendix “What is Sexual Harassment?”   It is ten pages and complete.  Did you have any idea that sabotaging your work is legally sexual harassment?  You can get this pamphlet right here.  Up Above, click on “Buy From Jim”.

I don’t want to let this go.  It is so important, but I have 1,377 words already. That’s enough.  Jay Pee


I just read the first 4 comments to this post.  There is something going on.  I hesitate to mention the Stockholm Syndrome and claim that what we see in pharmacies is some variation on the Stockholm theme.   But, it feels like that.  If  you go back and read Steve’s comments on many essays, you will find the same advice. It will work.  I have been peddling two of  my books for awhile.  ’THE PRISONERS OF COMFORT” and “BASIC STRATEGY TO THRIVE AS A RETAIL PHARMACIST” for a long time.  Both of these directly address your Stockholm/Prisoner situation.  It angers me that non-pharmacist threaten you with: “IF YOU CAN’T DO IT,. WE’LL FIND SOMEONE WHO CAN”.  That is enormously disrespectful.  Pharmacy can never be directed by non-professionals.  To even think of such a thing is fucking ridiculous.  You need to get some steel in your spine.  Go ahead and make double mortgage payments.  Go ahead and follow the business direction that your company demands, but don’t stop practicing pharmacy.  Do not ignore pharmacy law because it is your Ace of Trump.

About a year ago, a pharmacist in Oregon who worked for Rite-Aid had a problem.  It was regarding a refill.  He refused and the DM demanded that he fill the Rx early because it was a muscle relaxant and not a controlled substance.  He refused and found himself seeing signs of termination.  He contacted me.  I asked Steve to offer his two cents.  The kid followed our advice.  A guy from HR (Chief Compliance Officer) came all the way from Pennsylvania to try to put out the fire.  Long story short.  The pharmacist was offered a $9,000.00 settlement to promise not to sue Rite-Aid.  He declined and the last I heard he was examining the possibilities and rewards of suing Rite-Aid.   Again, Steve and I said, “Do This”.  He did.  ”THE BASIC STRATEGY ….”  is a definitive ‘how to’ and includes the advice that Steve and I gave this pharmacist and more.  Practicing pharmacy and complying with pharmacy laws and regulations is  far more important than manning the Prescription Mill.

Please don’t continue to be a lump.  PRACTICE PHARMACY!  Practice pharmacy!  PRACTICE PHARMACY!    



  1. Pharmacy Gal  •  Jan 3, 2014 @1:57 pm

    Sometimes the problem isn’t a non-pharmacist. I believe many pharmacists and pharmacy managers have forgotten that they were hired to perform the functions of being a licensed pharmacist- most importantly to take care of our patients according to the rules and laws governing the legal practice of pharmacy.

  2. bcmigal  •  Jan 3, 2014 @4:20 pm

    Gal, it is not that we have forgotten. We are held hostage by the metrics. One can preach to high heaven that we should “stand up’ for ourselves. But if we utter one work of complaint, we are quickly reminded of how we easily we can be replaced. Starting this week, our pharmacist hours have been reduced to a a 34 hr workweek. We have been told in exact words that those who cannot “keep up’ can look elsewhere for work. The only entity empowered here is the corporation. All of us are subjugated. This holds for both men and women pharmacists.
    i know there will be those who are not in this situation who will come up with easy answers. Good for you. If you work in one of these gulags and had success in fighting the overlords, please let us know.

  3. Pharmacy Gal  •  Jan 3, 2014 @6:28 pm

    bcmigal- I am on the front line as well. We were cut 10%. I am pretty sure retail is still usually much tougher than hospitals but hospital pharmacy is catching up on the suckiness scale. We too are judged by metrics and have unsafe quotas we must achieve. My beef is with pharmacists in clinical and management positions who have allowed this to happen as well as with pharmacists who constantly complain yet do not do anything constructive to improve the situation. You are obviously not that kind of pharmacist. I am so afraid that it is too late to turn this ship around. I am making extra payments on the mortgage while I still have a paycheck! By-the-way, my managers are all male pharmacists! I live in fear of losing my job but I make sure I can sleep at night knowing I did my best for my patients. Damn the quotas! They can destroy my job but they can’t destroy me. I will stand up for what is right in my little pharmacy world until they fire me. Good luck. You have to do what is right for you and your family.

  4. pharmaciststeve  •  Jan 3, 2014 @7:19 pm

    If you are not in the position to stand up.. at least make yourself familiar with all the laws – not just practice act & DEA – that both you and your employer are obligated to obey. When you are asked to do something questionable .. document whatever you can.. and take it home.. if you sense you are being pushed out the door… talk to an attorney – right then and there – do not wait.. A letter from an attorney to their legal dept will put brakes on their actions.. and will stall them showing you the door.. if you wait until you are already out the door.. It takes forever.. just look at Whistle blower – his issues started in July 2011 and they had the first deposition in Nov.. and rumor has it that the people that worked with him.. are being interviewed or having deposition taken … soon.. maybe as soon as next week.
    One of CVS’s X-PIC/RPH.. walked away with a 5″ binder full of “stuff”.. that is going to be put to good use…

  5. Whistleblower  •  Jan 4, 2014 @12:44 am

    You are correct Steve…it would be this coming Tuesday…I guess they will put all kinds of threats on them…oh well…at least two of the three RPHs fear for their jobs…the few techs that are left are are no worry to me….2/3 of the techs that worked on my team are gone or are only working limited hours and have moved up in the world.

    As for that 5″ inch binder….it will be put to good use. Documenting is the most important thing you can do…not a day goes by that I don’t hear of info RPHs are taking home with them. The latest piece of info coming from the east coast is that the front store manager has been instructed to come into the pharmacy and check your screens….if they don’t like what they see, they will give you a nudge….there is a email to prove this! What next? I’m very limited as to what I can speak on….but I promise it’s gonna get really noisy real soon. If I can assist in any way Jim and Steve have my contact info. Our patients need us more than ever and all of you practicing for the chains, I believe are facing the most challenging year yet. Take care and Happy New Year!!!

    Joe Zorek

    Joe Zorek

  6. bcmigal  •  Jan 6, 2014 @3:55 pm

    I have to say that we are very careful in our pharmacy not to violate any part of the B&P code, DEA regulations etc. What is lacking is adherence to labor laws. Our state is different from most in that pharmacists are “nonexempt” which means we are covered by the FLSA with regard to lunches, breaks, OT, and scheduling. This frustrates the heck out of corporate because they so want to schedule us for 12 hr shifts with no breaks. The downside is that we are expected ( read required) to accomplish the same amount of work in an 8 or even 6 hour (the new normal) shift.
    I guess the new robopharmacists can do this. But it will suck the soul out of them. I will happy when I can kiss retail pharmacy good bye.

  7. Goose  •  Jan 7, 2014 @11:48 am

    JP has just pointed out the obvious I think. The majority of practicing pharmacists are women. The majority of graduating pharmacist are women. If they do not take an active role in change of our profession there is no hope.
    Every once in a while at my job I’ll get a little bitchy about something minor. The kids will ask me why I made such a big deal over such a small thing. Answer? When you get your hackles up over a small thing once in a while you will not have to do it as often, even for a big thing. Like the old saying, a dog doesn’t have to bite all the time, sometimes it only needs to growl a little.
    I’m sorry, but if you put up with a shitty job or boss because you are too scared to say anything or growl a little, you deserve exactly what you get, male or female.
    Myt goal is for my manager to be watching out for me, not me for her. You have more power than you think, you just need to use it.

  8. FailedMetric  •  Feb 11, 2014 @12:39 pm

    When I saw the video in the link below, I remembered this discussion. So I thought I would post it here.
    While this young woman doesn’t make excuses, she helps shed some light on one aspect of women have generally been socialized. Many of us have been unconsciously taught to make ourselves small. This combined with an occupational culture that’s heavily driven by compliance with rules and regulations seems like the perfect setup for those outside the profession to exploit us and paints a picture of another hurdle that we face.

    “Ladies, before we can all start leaning in, we need to stop growing in.” (via @Upworthy) http://www.upworthy.com/watch-a-student-totally-nail-something-about-women-that-ive-been-trying-to-articulate-for-37-years-6?g=2

    Or, just as a reminder, don’t be these girls:
    (via @Upworthy) http://www.upworthy.com/dear-advertisers-please-stop-portraying-women-like-this-in-adverts-regards-women?g=2

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