• linkedin
  • Increase Font
  • Sharebar

    Pharmacists respond: Kim, you are not alone

    Well, as Click and Clack have been heard to say, it’s happened again. After we posted Kim Ankenbruck’s second article, “A dose of pharmacy truth: Report from the front lines,” she started getting e-mails, Drug Topics started getting e-mails, and readers started posting comments at DrugTopics.com. You can read the online posts by clicking here.

    We decided to present as many of the other messages as we could, on the assumption that every reader who wrote in is speaking for hundreds of others who did not or could not do the same.

    Because the subject is so volatile and can result in repercussions for those who speak out, we are keeping all communications anonymous and eliminating any personal details that the writers might have mentioned.

    Last item: Some of these e-mails are long. Rather than make extensive cuts, we decided to present them as completely as possible, and let our readers choose how much or how little to read.

    Here’s what some folks have written to Kim:

    Julianne Stein, Content Channel Manager
    Julianne Stein is managing editor for Drug Topics magazine.

    9 Comments

    You must be signed in to leave a comment. Registering is fast and free!

    All comments must follow the ModernMedicine Network community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated. ModernMedicine reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part,in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

    • Anonymous
      Unionization helps. Get to know the guys well above your dm. If you end up having it out with a tech or a pharmacist, talk to your dm. My dm didn't help. I wrote the union about my tech and my dm refraining from helping me. The dm tried to get me fired but the higher ups said no when we met at HR. I got an earful from the HR Manager. However, the guys up higher wouldn't fire me. Lucky. The dm has had complaints. He can't afford to keep going after people like me because the chain isn't doing that great. Nothing to do with him, right? No, it's all the pharmacists and staff fault. The higher ups aren't stupid. In one of the top three chains it is the practice to put incompatible folks together for their own amusement. dms don't answer calls. Store managers back stab you to death. Remember, your oath, and your customers you have served and helped. It is an honor to be remembered several years after helping someone or a family for a few years. That's what we came here for, because retail pharmacy is not the American Dream. The money is good. You don't have to take home the job, usually. If your a manager, who do you think you are? My first manager, retiring told me, you have to play the game. My game is to get as much as I can on everyone I work with, including the dm. Have fun and play mind games. And grin at every check. Like any JOB, expect to be terminated tomorrow. I used what I had on one dm after I left. Never got above dm. Sing loy. I wrote the state association and the press. One person in the state association listened to me, and made the rest of his career to go after white collar crime. Enjoy and treasure your education. You are a good person if your a pharmacist on the line. If you read this good luck and God Bless.
    • Anonymous
      Unionization helps. Get to know the guys well above your dm well. If you end up having it out with a tech or a pharmacist, talk to your dm. My dm didn't help. I wrote the union about my tech and my dm refraining from helping me. The dm tried to get me fired but the higher ups said no when we met at HR. I got an earful from the HR Manager. However, the guys up higher wouldn't fire me. Lucky. The dm has had complaints. He can't afford to keep going after people like me because the chain isn't doing that great. Nothing to do with him, right? No, it's all the pharmacists and staff fault. The higher ups aren't stupid. In one of the top three chains it is the practice to put incompatible folks together for their own amusement. dms don't answer calls. Store managers back stab you to death. Remember, your oath, and your customers you have served and helped. It is an honor to be remembered several years after helping someone or a family for a few years. That's what we came here for, because retail pharmacy is not the American Dream. The money is good. You don't have to take home the job, usually. If your a manager, who do you think you are? My first manager, retiring told me, you have to play the game. My game is to get as much as I can on everyone I work with, including the dm. Have fun and play mind games. And grin at every check. Like any JOB, expect to be terminated tomorrow. I used what I had on one dm after I left. Never got above dm. HaHa. I wrote the state association and the press. One person in the state association listened to me, and made the rest of his career to go after white collar crime. Enjoy and treasure your education. You are a good person if your a pharmacist on the line. If you read this good luck and God Bless.
    • Anonymous
      I agree with Kim. I faced similar problems with 2 different major companies I worked for in my career. Will not tell the story b/c it still upset me to no end even 22 & 4 years later. Disagree with the tech spy part.
    • Anonymous
      Yes, and amen to Kim, and all who have experienced the same humiliation and improper treatment by their (ex)employer. I worked in a chain pharmacy for 3 years, the first 2 a pharmacy manager by default (as the current pharmacy manager was fired on a technicality). All was fine, until a new, young bright star appeared on the horizon as the DM, and she singled me out for the chopping block. Accusations of being rude to patients, being incompetent, and even attacking my mental state were used to harass me, but I hung in there for over a year, proving to HR and DC that each accusation was a lie, totally false, and unfounded. I was sent for psychiatric evaluation (!) counseling for stress, and after 9 months of medical/administrative leave the company had run out of ideas and reasons to keep me away from work. I returned to work, to a hostile (to say the least) environment, shoved from town to town as a floater, and given some of the most hostile, wicked techs to work with (if I was not left alone to work by myself in a strange pharmacy.)Yes, I was fired -or forced to resign VOLUNTARILY- and find myself asking after practicing as a pharmacist since 1978 yes, 34 years!, if this is what pharmacy has really come to? My self-confidence has been totally destroyed and yes, I am still very angry. At my age - a few years from retirement- there is little chance of finding a new job, thanks to all the pharmacist-mill new grads that abound, and budget-cutting employers that look only at the the bottom line. My sympathies to all of you - pharmacy is not the golden profession it used to be. May you have the strength and finances to find another career before you join the washed-up remnants of old-school pharmacy.
    • Anonymous
      Oh my goodness! I started to reply to Kim's article, but thought better of it because it was so long and personal. In my naive view of the world, I never thought anything like this could happen to me. I've been crying a lot and having insomnia for quite some time. I, too, thought I was alone in my problems. Thank you so much for publishing your article, and thanks to everyone who was brave enough to tell their story! I left my retail job in December after being told by my manager that "they would make things uncomfortable" for me if I didn't step down as pharmacy manager. I knew I was ear-marked for termination either way: "unprofessionalism" write ups along with all the "helpful" conversations from my MGR and the DM in the office BEFORE the start to my shifts (presumably to get me to crack or make mistakes) - all this over a period of 4 months - were my biggest clues. I got it for "attitude", "facial expression", and "body language", forget about the fact that I came to work ill and in pain on most days. How about the lowered standards for techs who treated the pharmacy like a personal "romper room", showing up whenever they pleased, doing whatever task they choose with no sense of priority or urgency. They couldn't even bill insurances properly after 1-3 years of employment (given job aids and training). I also had an immature staff pharmacist who inappropriately "vented" to the store manager and complained about everything, but didn't step up to provide workable solutions when given the tools and opportunity to help. I wasn't supposed become discouraged and lecture my staff for purposely slowing down their work and being inattentive to and negligent in their own training, either, especially when I was staying 2+ hours after my own shifts (taking away personal time for my family and career development) to catch up and prevent customer complaints because, yeah, it was all on my shoulders. I know I chose this responsibility when I became a manager, but I thought it would get easier as my staff trained, experienced, and matured together. I attended mandatory meetings and worked on extra self directed training/certification (which is useless outside the company) with no financial compensation or compensated time off. I became physically ill with a chronic health condition (for which my "happy and healthy" employers did not make accomodation). My child almost died last year, but I wasn't supposed to take any time off for any "personal" issues. I wasn't supposed to use vacation/sick time for any of it, yet staff and floaters were always doing this and were not threatened/disciplined. I am still currently unemployed, living off my retirement money with no health benefits (the COBRA policy was too expensive and the health exchange/medicaid still hasn't gotten back to me yet). I can't get hired or even obtain an interviews with other LOCAL places within a 1 hour commute because my previous managers have been gossiping that I am a "problem" employee to each other (I still have some friends within the company) as well as potential new employers outside the company. On the up side, I got to spend more time with my children, who I adore, but I feel like a failure. How can I look my family in the eyes and tell them we can't do the things other families are doing because funds are limited? I value diligence and hard work, doing as much as I can to help people, and keeping on top of trends in pharmacy therapy. I signed up for unemployment after reading Kim's article, but I know the company will fight it. I am trying to seek employment in other states. Hopefully I can find good employment soon, with an employer who doesn't have a prejudice opinion of me and will give me a fair chance. I just want to be able to say goodbye to all the bad "stuff" this past year and look forward to a better future. Best wishes to all of you, too.
    • Anonymous
      This is nearly the same thing that has happened to me. I am now at my lowest point. Once a successful pharmacist from one of the most top-notch pharmacy schools I am now unemployed and desperately searching for a job. Nothing local, I "just" have a BSPH, I'm not qualified for many of the RPh jobs out there, I can't get a real person to talk to me...on and on it goes. I have to tell my kids we can't afford what we used to. I'm a single mother and get no help at all financially from my ex. My unemployment ran out so I too am now living on my retirement money. I am trying to earn different certifications to add to my resume and keep busy so I don't become "brain lazy" and seem like a blubbering fool if I do happen to get a "live" interview. This challenge has been one of the biggest reasons for the plummeting of my self worth and esteem. I am a hard working, loyal, intelligent and self-starting pharmacist. I have a great motivation to work...my children! But does that matter? Heck no. One of my children just got accepted to pharmacy school and I find myself fearful of two things: 1) tuition costs since I'm unemployed and 2) should I even encourage her to pursue this degree that prior to the last 5 years has been so good to me? I am utterly dumbfounded at the state of pharmacy. I hope we can all see a good change and soon, but I'm not holding my breath!
    • Ms. PMcKenzie
      I retired in 2007 after 40 years as a pharmacist. I worked retail for a chain, for independants when there were independant pharmacies, for clinical pharmacies, and for hospitals. I never experienced any of Kim's problems. Technicians are your right hand...some do feel empowered to act like a pharmacist, but that can be controlled with the right corrections. Some of my best friends today are past technicians...we established a working relationship that endured into a strong friendship. Saying that, some people just cannot work together, and a store manager can be a huge resource. After all, a good pharmacist is a great asset to any chain. The manager's goal should be harmony as well as profit...and they are trained to keep the store going strong. Maybe Kim's inability to get along with all levels of management is the problem. Everyone should hold their own importance and egos in check. Work with these people, stop showing your obvious disdain for everyone not a pharmacist. Your pharmacy degree does not insulate you from store rules and procedures. Get on board with co-workers and managers...your life will improve. If you still have many yraes ahead of you before you retire...temperance ....your ego will survive. i promise. Good luck to all pharmacisrts who feel as Kim does...please try to work with people in all levels. You will be happier.
    • Anonymous
      It is fortunate the Ms. PMcKenzie was able to work through the years with minimal issues....but that doesn't mean that Kim has a problem dealing with people and that she is the problem. I have been the recipient of back-stabbing, power-seeking technicians that love to jump the chain of command and file complaints against you at store management level without ever bringing up the issues for discussion with me or even the managing pharmacist. I have been called into the store director's office on a number of occasions having no clue that there was a problem or what the problems are about. It got to the point where the store director said I was in denial because I had no clue what the problems were....but it was never really clearly stated by him what the problems were. In addition, I was never told who my accusers were (though I am sure I know). With some technicians, if you hold them accountable for their work (or lack of), they will sometimes turn on you secretly and attempt to undermine you. The store director finally decided that he was going to refer anyone complaining about me back to me to discuss the issue directly. He later told me that soon after our discussion, the person complained again and he told that person to come talk to me...and the person said "no way" and that ended the problem (which is what the store director anticipated would happen). What is interesting is that the store management did not require these people to follow the chain of command. The pharmacy manager had no knowledge of the complaints. There are many stories I could tell, but you have heard enough of them. I am still employed but I can feel that changes are in the air with chain pharmacy management, in general, and things may get more difficult in the pharmacy realm in the future. I am a patient advocate and conscientious pharmacist. I provide detailed counseling on prescriptions. I try to make myself valuable by managing the OTC section, provide immunization & other services (made our pharmacy the #1 store in the chain in providing Zostavax immunizations), manage inventory closely (reduced inventory at one store by over $250,000 before I was transferred then reduced the inventory at the new store by over $150,000), manage the general inventory and C-II inventory closely and do most of the ordering. Our pharmacy volume is up significantly compared to three years ago when I was first transferred to my current store. I have a good relationship with the pharmacy manager and have worked through some turbulent periods with some of the technicians (as the pharmacy manager asked me to make some changes to the operations)....as resistance to 'change' is a common issue that surfaces. It helped that the pharmacy manager was supportive of the changes and had my back. We are all 'mostly' getting along okay now. It is interesting that other pharmacists that have commented had also made themselves valuable but still did not fair well. It is amazing to me that some chain businesses manage to survive and function in spite of a tendency to hire abusive, power hungry middle management who often push out good people. Fortunately, we have not had DM's of this negative personality type since I have worked for my current employer.
    • Anonymous
      The philosophy at the World's Largest Chain is to dump the acute care patients and court the chronic care...that's where the dough is. Unfortunately, we are in a acute care area, doing up to 30 Rxs a hour at 9pm on Saturday night with one tech. That, folks, is not an exaggeration. It seems somehow during a physically and soul crushing day, I am supposed to go out and find old people, Part D members, for whom I can create "payables", so my supervisor can get a bonus off my back. My mind twirls at night...anger, frustration, worry. There is a College of Pharmacy in my city. Those kids can have it. I'm done, I'm out. I'm done being treated like a rented mule. My retirement manager says 8 more years, but the minute WLC hands me my 25 year pin, I'm throwing my name tag in.