• linkedin
  • Increase Font
  • Sharebar

    Who will stand up for pharmacy?

    If we are not for ourselves, who will be? And if not now, when?

    An 89-year-old woman walked 3,200 miles in 14 months for a cause she believed in — and then got herself hauled off to jail for reading the Declaration of Independence in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. If she could show up for her cause, suggests Kim Ankenbruck, RPh, what are we willing to do for ours?

    I read with great interest the article “The political-medical complex” by Robert L. Mabee, Rph, JD, MBA, posted at the Drug Topics Blog on December 10, 2013.

    I have spoken with Mr. Mabee on several occasions in the past year and value his opinion. His qualifications as a pharmacist, a lawyer, and an MBA, as well as his values and common-sense approach, made him a sustaining voice of reason as I tried to make sense of a profession that has been hijacked by the chains, the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical companies, and indeed, even our once-trusted academic institutions and state boards.

    A bill of goods

    In our profession, as in many other professions and occupations, those of us who do the actual work at ground level have no voice.

    We have never been able to organize, we are afraid for our livelihoods, and we do not have the funds to influence and elect politicians who will represent us.

    We took university faculty members at their word when they promised that the profession would soon be elevated above “count, pour, lick, and stick” and pharmacists would finally be acknowledged as the equals of other healthcare professionals.

    We kept thinking that if we just held on and kept increasing our skills and working hard, that this dream would eventually materialize. All we needed was time.

    Meanwhile, the chains and hospitals kept cutting back our support staff and increasing our responsibilities, ensuring that we remained exhausted and isolated by long hours, lack of breaks, and outlandish schedules.

    Our compliant and people-pleasing personality styles, our extreme sense of responsibility, and our self-destructive work ethic have all taken a toll on our energy and self-esteem. We have become our own worst enemies. 

    Meanwhile, the big chains infiltrated our state boards of pharmacy, donated money to our colleges and universities, and accepted kickbacks from the pharmaceutical companies.

    Staff and professionals at local hospitals and doctor’s offices became employees of huge corporations as their hospitals and medical complexes were bought out and swallowed up.

    Medical decisions were increasingly dictated by insurance companies, P and T committees, and hospital administrators, as well as by the CEOs of the medical machine.

     

    21 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.

    • JerryDwosh
      Everyone posting their discontent is preaching to the choirs, and have been doing that for the past 50 years. Organization defines strength that has been lacking with state boards, Apha, etc. in attempt to show the true nature and education of the community pharmacist. Pharmacists must organize at the local levels. Get the media (newspapers, tv stations and for sure the internet) involved to describe to the public the issues in pharmacies today.
    • JerryDwosh
      Everyone posting their discontent is preaching to the choirs, and have been doing that for the past 50 years. Organization defines strength that has been lacking with state boards, Apha, etc. in attempt to show the true nature and education of the community pharmacist. Pharmacists must organize at the local levels. Get the media (newspapers, tv stations and for sure the internet) involved to describe to the public the issues in pharmacies today.
    • JerryDwosh
      Everyone posting their discontent is preaching to the choirs, and have been doing that for the past 50 years. Organization defines strength that has been lacking with state boards, Apha, etc. in attempt to show the true nature and education of the community pharmacist. Pharmacists must organize at the local levels. Get the media (newspapers, tv stations and for sure the internet) involved to describe to the public the issues in pharmacies today.
    • JerryDwosh
      Everyone posting their discontent is preaching to the choirs, and have been doing that for the past 50 years. Organization defines strength that has been lacking with state boards, Apha, etc. in attempt to show the true nature and education of the community pharmacist. Pharmacists must organize at the local levels. Get the media (newspapers, tv stations and for sure the internet) involved to describe to the public the issues in pharmacies today.
    • Anonymous
      I have been at this business for quite a while. The profession suffers from the fact that most of us are employees rather than a professional partner. Probably the only ones in control of their environment/practice are the independents. Pharmacies should be managed by the pharmacist. Any pharmacy should have the pharmacist at least 50% ownership. Not sure how this should or would happen. We sold our soul to the devil a long time ago.
    • Anonymous
      some food for thought: few years ago I have read on the web that most countries in Europe do not allow ownership of more than few pharmacies (up to 3 or may be 5). On my recent trip to Paris I saw NO pharmacy chains, but plenty of small independent pharmacies throughout the city. Repeat: NO CHAINS!!! This is where it begins-legislature by proactive citizens professionals who understand the effect huge corporations have on all aspects of our lives, including healthcare and pharmacy in particular. Besides horrible working conditions we endure, ultimately patient's care is suffering. No matter how hard we try to avoid errors, I am sure, statistically thousands of burntout and nearburnout pharmacists bound to produce more errors despite their best efforts. This is why it should be a matter of law to have limits such as number of orders/hour/pharmacist.
    • SteveAriens
      What I find funny.. all of these statements of STANDING UP and only ONE PERSON is willing to put their name on their statements. It is like "I want to stand up.. but don't quote me .." If the individuals within pharmacy cannot stand up for themselves..it is unlikely that they will collectively stand up for pharmacy. When your health goes for doing whatever the company demands.. 14hr days always standing, working on a few hours sleep, and low blood sugar and over stretched bladders.. and on and on...then you will have truly given "your all" for the company.The company functioned before you came along and will continue to function after they have expended your worth to them..
    • Anonymous
      If the individuals within pharmacy cannot stand up for themselves..it is unlikely that they will collectively stand up for pharmacy - See more at: http://drugtopics.modernmedicine.com/drug-topics/news/who-will-stand-pha... one is often almost powerless against a corporation, an organized group can be quite the opposite
    • Anonymous
      I am a 50 year grad who left pharmacy for awhile after 30 years of working for a "big-box" operation. I eventually returned as staff pharmacist for a free clinic part time. I must admit that the free clinic position was the most rewarding position that I have held. It gave me the opportunity to use clinical skills and presented management challenges not seen in my prior positions. I was initially a store manager as well as pic when I started. The problems that are being stated now or not much removed from when I first started. My answer now ,as it was then is to organize. Call it a gill,union or whatever it is the only way. I remember the professors saying that we were "professionals" and my answer to that is. Are not the men or women who drive the commercial airplanes or teach our children ,professionals? I believe strongly in free enterprise and fundamentally I oppose big union organizations but I believe it's our only option.
    • Anonymous
      The same is happening in the UK with the threat of the chains moving to robotized hubs and pharmacists being replaced by technicians. The only hope is for Boards of Pharmacy in the US and UK to purchase modules in medical subjects, sell them to working pharmacists and when examined on these subjects gradually integrate pharmacy back into medicine. Ensure that all pharmacists are qualified in diagnostics and prescribing. The alternative, pharmacists may no longer be working in healthcare at all.
    • Anonymous
      The same is happening in the UK with the threat of the chains moving to robotized hubs and pharmacists being replaced by technicians. The only hope is for Boards of Pharmacy in the US and UK to purchase modules in medical subjects, sell them to working pharmacists and when examined on these subjects gradually integrate pharmacy back into medicine. Ensure that all pharmacists are qualified in diagnostics and prescribing. The alternative, pharmacists may no longer be working in healthcare at all.
    • Anonymous
      There was a time when I felt pharmacy would serve my need for a life long career. lately however, it has become rather obvious this assumption was extremely premature. The corporate world has tightened the strings and taken over the profession. The economy, mandatory mail order, deep discount medications, as well as poor third party reimbursements, have sent chains on a mad dash for cash. Unfortunately they have sought to recoup their funds by cutting not only technician hours, but the hours and salaries of pharmacists. Now we are expected, in most instances, to maintain the same Rx volume with fewer help hours and the addition of extra tasks throughout the work day. Immunizations, as well as MTM's, are often required and have been added to the daily work flow, even though there is no extra help or pay, nor time to accomplish these daily add-ons . Just work faster and refuse to address patient concerns and maybe you can handle the extra work, especially if you take no lunch break and limit your bathroom break to 30 seconds. Don't complain because these are now official responsibilities and have become part of your newly defined job description. If you don't like it, you can leave, is the chant heard throughout the corporate pharmacy world. I cannot help but wonder, if the economy were better and a shortage of pharmacists still existed, would we have to endure such conditions? To add fuel to the fire, we have to endure harassment from the very same district managers who may have sat next to us in pharmacy school; they also fear losing their jobs.
    • Anonymous
      There used to be a time (in the 70's and 80's) when the shortage of pharmacists gave existing practitioners reasonable leverage in negotiations over working conditions. As shortages continued, academicians backed by the AACP (American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy) came up with the idea that the profession would increase in stature if everyone was a “Doctor of Pharmacy”. But, how could the AACP encourage universities to expand their low budget pharmacy programs? Simple, let's make the PharmD the entry level degree and encourage colleges to collect 4 years of undergraduate fees plus two years of graduate fees! Suddenly, the College of Pharmacy became a revenue center and everyone and his brother had to have a PharmD program. Since this coincided with the economic downturn provided by NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), students flocked to universities that heavily promoted the historical income and job security of the profession. The pharmacist shortage quickly resolved, beyond anyone's wildest dream, while for the most part, the day to day delivery of pharmacy services changed very little. So, as long as there were ten or twenty people waiting for your job your employer had no reason to negotiate conditions or scope of practice – he'll tell you what to do, or tell your replacement. The stand that needs to be taken is that pharmacists need to demand that the AACP work to reduce the number of colleges of pharmacy. As alumni, we need to tell our alma maters that donations will not be forthcoming until we see reductions in class size and volume of new pharmacy graduates. As voters, we need to remove politicians that continue to take huge sums of money from those corporations that are telling us how to practice. If the profession continues down the road it is going, it won't be long before your “personal pharmacist” will be named Watson and he'll be leased by your employer as a very low cost, time-sliced simulacrum, that will discuss medication therapy with your patients 24/7 on their smart phone.
    • Anonymous
      I work in a big box chain store. It is not so much a pharmacy anymore than it is a fast food type dispensing factory. What we dispense is not as important as how much it costs and how fast we can churn it out. We spend a good part of the day on defense. (why do I have to wait so long? Why does it cost so much? I don't have a deductible.) Submitting insurance claims is like solving a puzzle (add this number here, add this prefix, put this number in this field, stand on one foot and hum "I Will Survive", Yes! at last it went through) 40% of what we dispense is narcotics. Throw in the anti-depressants and it goes up to 60 or 70%. We have become a society dependent on drugs. We have long lines every day and I just think to myself how crazy it is that so many people are taking so many drugs. This is not what I envisioned 30 years ago in pharmacy school. The stress has become unbearable. I will check my company email today and I would bet money that there is a new task for me to perform or a new system to implement. (Faster, faster, faster! Oh and by the way you need to send somebody home, your payroll is too high.) Would you like fries with that? It's only $4 and $10 if you get a 90 day supply! HOLD ON - stop the presses. A customer actually has a question about their prescription. How can I help you? ...Where is the dandruff shampoo?
    • Anonymous
      Until pharmacists have true rights of conscience, forget this...otherwise we are nothing more than glorified order takers, something the Chains can train a monkey to do. Stand up today for your professional judgment to be the deciding factor in what is dispensed or counseled. Otherwise, the profession is doomed.
    • Anonymous
      We don't have to join or form a union. I have seen in California that there are Guilds. We are still judged by our peers, and we still have a lot of say in the Boards (at least in my state). It think it will be as simple as forming a active organization, call it a guild, or association, or whatever and start pushing. When RA says x, 400 or 600 of your peers say y. When Walgreens says a, y'all say b. It's that simple. Most of them push labor laws to the edge now--find a hungry lawyer for your org to team up with. It can be done.
    • Anonymous
      The Associations that we pay yearly(dearly) dues to have forgotten something. They do not have any control over our employers. It is great that we are doing vaccinations, MTM, diabetes monitoring, etc, but our employers are not increasing tech hours when we are pulled away to do these wonderful things. They are decreasing them. Reimbursement for these new professional tasks? Sure, cut hours anyway. Raises cash prices for meds. No way. Our employers take "our" money for these extra things. These associations do not support that end of pharmacy. We are supposed to do what? In general pharmacists don't like unions. So it will slowly get worse.
    • Anonymous
      I could not agree with Ms Ackenbruck's article. It is time we all wake up and do something about the situation and stand up for ourselves. Are we pathetic masochists?
    • RickHansen
      The fact is "we are our worst enemy"! Stand up for Pharmacy... Just say No
    • Anonymous
      Rick: too many chickens who only want to go along to get along...no spine!
    • Anonymous
      I think we have to a this point to more than say No We are losing our jobs, our profession and our souls