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    Senior pharmacists: Too busy to retire


    "Start shouting!"

    John Frank has been pushing clinical pharmacy for 40 years. A youngster at 68, he spends his days in direct patient care at a 75-bed hospital in Sonora, Calif. He routinely orders labs, monitors renal function, doses antibiotics, adjusts heparin, and reminds physicians that they can’t order vancomycin for Acinetobacter infections because it doesn’t work against gram-negative rods.

    “If you can do that kind of clinical work in 75-bed teaching hospital, you can do it anywhere,” he said. “If you don’t like your work setting, move. If you’re in a chain that is pushing fast-food pharmacy, bite the bullet and say NO.”

    Fred Mayer, RPH, MPHFred MayerFred Mayer has made a career of saying no. Now 81, he launched the Great American Smokeout 50 years ago, then passed the annual smoking cessation event to the American Cancer Society so he could focus more on his campaign against tobacco sales in pharmacies. He convinced independents, small chains, cities such as San Francisco and Boston, and, most recently, chain giant CVS. Mayer is president of Pharmacists Planning Services, Inc., and a member of the Drug Topics editorial board.

    “We geezers learned an important lesson,” Mayer said. “What is best for the patient is also what is best for pharmacy. And if it takes getting up and shouting and raising a ruckus to do what is right for patients, why are you still sitting down? Get off you backside and start shouting! We have gotten tobacco out of CVS, but there’s plenty more to do.”

    Fred Gebhart contributes frequently to Drug Topics. He is a healthcare writer based in Gold Hill, Ore.


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      A brand new study states that more than a quarter of Americans with 401(k)s and other retirement accounts are dipping into those accounts before retirement to pay the bills. Maybe you should get a personal finance instead of taking cash out of retirement.
    • Anonymous
      P.S. F___ corporate pharmacy -- may all you district managers, HR, and your henchmen rot in h-ll...Your day will come...
    • Anonymous
      Amen. The systematic "weed-out" in the chains now begins even before 60. Supervalu (JewelOsco) began the process for me 5 years ago (and I am not yet 60), chiseling away my hours, benefits, ability to freelance independently by channeling all relief needs thru the corporate office rather than store level. I left the profession to re-tool as a mental health provider, where I now have benefits, work no nights or weekends, and enjoy JOB SATISFACTION. When I was coming up, senior pharmacists were respected and had a place in the organization. I no longer see that attitude, at least in this labor market (urban Midwest). More power to those lucky RPhs in this article. They are a dying breed (no pun intended)...
    • Anonymous
      These gentlemen must be the exceptions rather than the rule since it's common knowledge in the profession that many chains are working to dump all pharmacists over 60
    • MorganWilliams
      But that was 2000 when there was a real demand for pharmacists, I live in Winston Salem. CVS got rid of me when I was 60. That was 6 years ago. Are things better in Texas? Should I move there?
    • Mr. SLefkow
      Morgan Williams: Hey, don't move yet. Have you tried the "temp agencies". We have a few here in Florida and I've been able to pick and choose my days to work. Maybe it's a good thing or not, but you're not expected to know one helluva lot when you get to a place for the first time. You're only there for a day or two -- a warm body with a license -- and my hat size increases when, always on the second time at a job or late in the first day, the owner or chief RPh says, "How'd you like to work here regular?" or, when I decline, "Well, how about regular part-time?". If there are no such agencies in your area, you might visit some independents and let them know you're available for vacations, illness, etc. They'd be looking for someone local, experienced, with good reputation.
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