All across the country, it is widely accepted that retail pharmacists don’t get proper lunch breaks. Let’s forget the 15 minute breaks to rest, recharge, and refocus.

Regrettably, it has become the norm to skip lunches and forgo even the thought of paid breaks for our technician colleagues. In doing so, we succumb to this dangerous phenomenon called verify fatigue

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Stand Up and Lead

As corporate pharmacists, our biggest nemesis is not the patient, not the corporation, nor ourselves. Our biggest nemesis is the product and quality of working conditions that have been created by all three.

To that I respond, “Where is our leadership?

It takes courage to stand up for one’s self and do the right thing for our team and ourselves. But no one is going to take away our agency and opportunity to lead, nor should they.

Just because we are in charge of our patients’ healthcare doesn’t mean that we need to create unsafe working conditions or subject ourselves to torture while violating our own working rights.

Every company protects its employees health and well-being. It’s literally in the bylaws and company policies. But what they can’t do is tell us how to be passionate leaders and business owners.

Think Differently

I get it. Sometimes, we have such a demanding workload. Pharmacists fill, bill, and verify up to 1,000 prescriptions per day. We counsel and immunize just as many. That, in and of itself is a hazardous trap.

But if we roll over and give up, we aren’t just forgoing 30 minutes of personal time. We are failing to show our teams how important self-respect and dignity are. In other words, we fail to show our patients that good healthcare is a two-way street.

We have demanding patients, a business to run, and regulatory compliance to adhere to. But these are environmental conditions. We operate autonomously within this sphere, and we have the power to choose how we react to these challenging conditions and stimuli.

Doesn’t the retail pharmacist job code entail leadership? Is it not our responsibility to teach our technician colleagues to respect themselves while showing compassion for our patients?

Is it not possible to manage competing priorities and find a way to demonstrate safe and effective healthcare while being safe and effective healthcare practitioners?

Think about mindset. Ponder outside of the box. Think about systems and culture. 

Embrace the Power of “And”

As Corporate PharmDs, we have the abilities to think creatively AND lead our team with purpose. We have the skills to show that we can manage workflow AND manage our own work/life balance. Not only are our patients’ health and longevity important, but so are ours.

So many pharmacists trap themselves into thinking we can only achieve one thing or the other.

“I can either serve my patient or myself. I can’t do both.”

However, as business owners, we must think with purpose AND act strategically so that we not only demonstrate courage during the day to day challenges, but also to preserve our longevity as the profession’s most coveted healthcare professionals.

We can do no good, save no lives, and inspire no patients if we do not first lead by example and take care of our own health and wellness.

In doing so, I believe with all my heart that:

  1. Every new prescription counsel opportunity, whether new strength, dosage, or directions, can be screened by the pharmacist to validate clinical safety, professional risk, and patient preference.
  2. Each new prescription counsel opportunity can be communicated as such to the patient.
  3. Every patient can have access to a pharmacist counsel whether it’s in person, over the phone, or via teleconference.
  4. All Corporate Pharmacists can have the opportunity to take a meal break and passionately serve all of our patients.

These principles are all equally important, and the only way to practice healthcare at the highest levels is to shrug off false dichotomies. We can do all four in concert, AND with great fervor.

It’s up to us to forge the path. Act or be acted upon. Burn out or burn with passion.

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Business Tips from The Corporate PharmD

  • Create a culture where your technicians can take their paid 15 minute breaks
  • Find a way to protect the pharmacist’s lunch breaks, using your team to set the right expectations with patients
  • World-class customer service is crucial for execution
  • If at first you don’t succeed, try again a different way

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