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    All in the family: Two generations in pharmacy

    With this article, a group project from reader Pete Kreckel, RPh, and his wife, daughter, and son-in-law, Drug Topics launches a new series that will present your stories: how you came to pharmacy, how your path unfolded, and where it led you. Our goal is to show new pharmacists how many choices and opportunities appear to those whose minds are open to new possibilities. Here's your chance to share what you have learned through your life in pharmacy! Send your contributions to [email protected] today.

    My Dad was a welder. My Grandpa was a blacksmith. Our family background is full of men with callouses on their hands. So how did I end up in a white lab coat in pharmacy school in 1977?

    Not sure I can tell you, but there I was. Next to me was a very cute and charming lab partner, Denise Kubitsky, who eventually became Mrs. Kreckel. No healthcare background in this guy’s pedigree. But it sure was the start of something.

    Independent retail practice

    The first position I landed upon graduation was in a small town in Clearfield, Pa., for a large major chain. The district manager was thrilled that I was interested in working there since this was such a difficult store to staff.

    Most pharmacists there were “doing their time” until an opening was available in Pittsburgh.  After I was licensed and hauled in the big bucks ($12.85/hr), I quickly realized that the low staffing level did not lend itself to patient consultation.  I remember telling Denise, “If this is retail pharmacy, I made a serious mistake in choosing this career five years ago.”

    Fifteen tech hours per week was not enough, but my district manager said to me, “Pete, I’ve watched you practice and, if you quit spending time with the customers, you will have plenty of time to do our paperwork.”

    I was ready to apply for a graduate program at Pitt, and get a PhD. so I could teach.  Then the phone call came. My mother inlaw called and said there were two openings in the Altoona area; one was the store Denise interned in, the other in a newly opened location in Tyrone Pa.

    When I called the owner to ask about the opportunity, ready to send him that impressive resume, he answered, “Anyone married to Denise Kubitsky has to be all right. Can you start next week?”  All my years of “resume building”--class president for three years, president of the student council for two years--meant nothing in comparison to my wife’s reputation.  We moved into the community and became part of it immediately.  We got involved in our church, nursery school, and our parochial school.

    For the first 20 years or so, it was the same old, same old…dispensing, counseling, managing inventory, the same gig all “bench” pharmacists know so well. My lab partner and I “compounded” three offspring together, the oldest of whom eventually revealed her ambition to follow in our footsteps.  The store grew into a hugely successful business, all along allowing me to build relationships and connecting to my patients.  Working for an independent “chain” was much enjoyed.

    From bench to podium

    A phone call came from a colleague (actually the guy who brought us to Central Pennsylvania in 1981) letting us know that a teaching position at St. Francis University had opened up. Teaching pharmacology sounded easy for a seasoned retail pharmacist. I was interviewed by the eight faculty members and two students. Two other candidates also interviewed.  I really connected well and landed the job.

    Then the work began.  No text book, no previous notes, my didactic coordinator would hand me a list of goals/objectives and drugs to be covered.  I remember that even “Cognex/tacrine” was on this list.  Heck, I even had to update the list!

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    • Anonymous
      There are five pharmacists in this family -- my husband, myself, my son, my daughter and son-in-law. Our practice areas are quite diverse: my husband retired recently from the VA as a chief of pharmacy, I have over twenty years experience in long term care (consulting to management), my son completed a residency and works on the ambulatory side in the VA now, my daughter completed a residency, is board certified and has hospital background. My son in law is half way through a two year residency/masters program with UNC. I jokingly tell people that we are the family that "does drugs."
    • BrittanyRadomski
      Pete, I completed your community pharmacy rotation in the fall of 2007. You are absolutely a "real" pharmacist! In my short six years of practice, I have kept an open mind and taken new job opportunities to build my skill set. It takes years to build a career like yours, and if other pharmacists want to get in on the "fantasy" they should do the same! Thanks for being a great inspiration to me and countless other students.