When they visit the pharmacy, people see the Pharmacist hiding behind the computer screen all day.
The technicians run from Drop Off to Pick Up to Production in a circle of never-ending chaos.
Sometimes, the world needs a reminder of the greatness underneath this white coat.
I’m not just another pretty face behind the counter.
Odds Stacked Against Us
For the past 4 months, the weekends no longer bring us rest and rejuvenation.
Now, the hordes of patients have changed their flocking patterns.
During Q4, the budgets wisely allotted us 3 technicians on the weekend.
That’s what it takes when over 200 patients visit your pharmacy each day.
One tech to man Pick Up, one tech to hold down Drop Off, and one tech to beast the Production Zone.
However, this Saturday during Q1 of 2019, the odds are stacked against us.
I have one technician to do the same amount of scripts minus all the flu shots.
Fifty percent of our prescriptions filled in a day are waiters.
Bring it on.
Adherence calls and prescription verifying consume the first part of the morning.
During this time, corporate communications remind me that I have additional business matters to attend to.
I must audit payroll and my pharmacy for regulatory compliance.
All the while, my technician fends off the masses at Pick Up and Drop Off all by herself.
She has 2 registers and a computer station, with no support from me.
That’s a beast technician right there.
The Critical Zone
My technician deserves back up, but I have to fight the urge to step away from the verifying station, what I call the critical zone.
In this area, I produce the most value to the business, my team, and my patients.
I can verify on two screens, access emails on a 3rd browser, answer phones, call insurance, and print labels all at the same time.
Once I leave that critical zone, I am limited to doing only one action at a time.
Therefore, I have to do everything possible to avoid the war zone.
In chess, the King shouldn’t be out in the open.
But what kind of leader stays in the back, never seen to carry the flag or lead the charge?
Definitely not the one that inspires greatness.
My tech understands the weight of responsibility that looms over me, but that is my burden.
So, I step away from the bleeding screen, forego my managerial duties, and roll up the sleeves.
It’s Game Time
I am determined to create critical zones of productivity wherever I go.
At Pick Up, I talk to the patient in front of me and walk them through the payment process.
There’s always lag time between prompts, so I squeeze in the next patient at the other register.
They’re happy I can get a few words in with them as I wrap up the other patient.
Phone rings, but I have 10 seconds before the other patient’s receipt pops out.
Enough time for me to answer and put on hold.
Receipt in the bag, and I waive to the 3rd and 4th patient in line.
Rinse and repeat.
My technician pumps out 3 waiters during this few minutes, so we tag out for me to verify.
In The Pharmacy Spotlight
Before I know it, lunch time arrives, unbeknownst to the masses in front of me.
My technician offers to work through it since she has a meal waiver on file.
Yea, right. “I laugh in the face of danger.”
“See you on the other side,” I assure her.
I’m not afraid because when it’s just me, my patients love watching me dance while holding all the spinning plates on sticks.
I type the waiter, say hi to 5 patients in line.
Four calls on hold.
All with a smile on my face.
No one dares give me a hard time about wait times.
They want to feel bad, but I don’t let them.
“Want to wait? Let’s do it. Wait for the text, though.”
Clear the line, print the next batch.
The trick is that there is always 4 processes going on at one time.
That’s the thrill of attaining efficiency.
Things working in the background, whether it’s a screen or printer, brings me joy.
The Hordes Are No Match For Me
Then, opportunity surfaces.
The patients make the fatal mistake of giving me 15 minutes to myself.
If I can ring out two patients at once and verify on two screens, imagine what I can do at Production uncontested?
Only 30 minutes in solitude.
But during that time, my tech can hear the phones, the patients, the waiters, and the ferocious clanging of spatula and counting tray.
She comes back to a clear counter and 3 monstrous stacks of filled prescriptions by verify station.
“You filled ALL of those prescriptions while I was gone?!”
“You’re a beast.” she says.
“Teamwork makes the dream work,” I say.
But The Battle Wasn’t Over
We still had 5 pages left, adherence calls to make, and an onslaught of the undead coming.
The day’s work continues to beat us down.
This phenomenon is what all the other pharmacists complain about.
Being understaffed, and feeling the world crashing down on us.
Patients relentlessly demanding more and more.
Not nearly enough human resources.
My technician starts to show signs of wear and tear.
Her spirits start to crumble, and her productivity waning.
Time To Sprint To The Finish Line
For the last 2 hours of the day, I beat her to every single patient.
I answer every phone call before she can even reach for it, and I zip around the medicine shelves like an Olympian.
If there were Pharmacy Olympics, this pharmacist would reign as Champion.
As we stand filling, side by side, my stack of prescription baskets towers over her.
My phone also constantly dials out to patients in need of clinical care.
The combination of dial tones and prescription bottles banging on the counter creates a musical beat.
T minus 5 minutes left until the pharmacy gates close, and my technician still looks beat.
I’m so proud of her for putting in her all, and I know that she won’t forget this day.
The day her leader stepped up to the plate, fearless and powerful in the face of adversity.
All while having a smile on his face, nothing but love for his patients, and concern for his comrade in arms.
Maybe they put something in my coffee today.