Why I Still Love Being a Pharmacist

JANUARY 04, 2018
It can be easy to be negative about being a pharmacist, especially given the climate. Declining reimbursement squeezes independent pharmacies of their livelihood, and a flooded market means fewer jobs and poorer working conditions, and complex health care administration and billing means that many of us spend more of our day with insurance companies than with patients. In spite of this, I still love being a pharmacist and love what we do every day. I wanted to break the ice by sharing some of my own reasons and accomplishments. I hope this will make it easier to get your thoughts flowing about your reasons to love being a pharmacist every day (besides just to pay the bills) and to recognize what you have already done for your community.

As a pharmacist, I love running coupons for patients on their expensive medications, while they aren’t there, and seeing their beaming face when they come back. They discover their copay is only $10 and there is a coupon attached to their bag. I love helping my patients that are struggling to figure out find the right insurance plan for them, during open enrollment. I love knowing that I saved a patient’s life when I was barely out of school and used knowledge I gained from my inpatient rotation to prevent a patient on Tikosyn from receiving HCTZ.

I am proud to have provided life-saving immunizations to hundreds, maybe thousands, of patients to protect them from pneumonia, shingles, influenza, hepatitis, and others. I am proud to have been the one to recommend those vaccines much of the time. I love teaching the next generation of pharmacists on their rotations and seeing their skills and confidence improve in just a short period of time. I am proud to have moved our IV room toward compliance with USP 797, significantly increasing the safety of dispensed IV medications. I loved being the state IV trainer and training many of our other pharmacists and technicians in USP 797 and aseptic technique, exponentially increasing my impact on patient safety.

I still remember the woman who came to me, nervous, because she has experienced significant bleeding "like I was a teenager again" and wasn’t sure what to do. She wanted to wait one more month to see if it happened again. I pushed her to see her doctor. She came back and thanked me several times after being referred to her gynecologist to be treated.

I was proud to be part of the first national chain to Ask-Advise-Refer for every patient dropping a prescription off, and for being able to put together a smoking cessation event in the store, in partnership with the local public health association. I love finding just the right drug to treat someone, like the time a woman told me that she couldn’t eat because of mouth sores after chemotherapy; the doctor prescribed Marinol after assuming she didn’t have an appetite. I got it switched to viscous lidocaine so she could eat again.

I remember a woman with diabetes, on 2-3 medications, who was eating poorly because she was a “meat and potatoes kind of lady.” We talked over the course of several months when she was in; I ran a coupon for her Januvia, making it free, and pushed her spend that money buying better foods. The pharmacy was inside a grocery store and I saw her, over time, come see me with a better looking cart; we laughed about my cart inspections and she knew I was going to look. They were baby steps, and some were not arguably that helpful (like switching regular soda to diet soda), but I encouraged each effort she made. She put turkey instead of ground beef in her cart, and I saw more vegetables slowly show up in her cart. Oftentimes, she dropped by to see me even when she wasn’t getting a prescription, and one day she came to me excited because her doctor just told her that her A1C had dropped significantly from before and was much closer to goal, at around 7.5%. She looked motivated and hopeful again.

There is a reason we are among America’s most trusted professions. So, now it’s your turn—why are you proud of being a pharmacist?

Alex Evans, PharmD, CGP
Alex Evans, PharmD, CGP, works in community pharmacy in Jacksonville, Florida, and is preceptor at the University of Florida and Florida AM University. He graduated from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro with a BS in Biology and graduated from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. He has worked in both the community and long-term care settings. He can be reached at [email protected]
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