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    Five Tips for Surviving a 12-Hour Pharmacy Shift

    It's something every pharmacist knows well—the long shift. Here's how to make it a little more bearable.


    Eating a donut

    1. The Pre-Shift Meal

    I suggest following general marathon running guidelines in preparation for your 12-hour shift. No, a long day on the bench isn’t exactly like running a marathon. But since a marathon is among the most physically and mentally challenging tests of endurance we know, it was the closest thing I could imagine.

    Focus on carbs, consuming them 4-hours pre-shift to maximize your liver glycogen reserves. Rumor has it that several clever pharmacy students are currently working on an app that will predict your exact caloric requirements based on anticipated prescription volume, immunization season, a drive-through window, and tech staffing.

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    Jason Poquette, RPh
    Jason Poquette is the director for outpatient pharmacy services at Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Mass., and an APPE preceptor for ...


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    • Anonymous
      Ugh, reading your article makes me regret ever going to pharmacy school even more
    • [email protected]
      Hi Jason, I'm unsure if most of this is serious or tongue-in-cheek humor - I personally like the humorous parts! As an ultramarathoner and 25+ year pharmacist, and someone trying to change the exact unacceptable working conditions you mention -- NO pharmacist should work a 12-hour shift as the number of medication error rates skyrocket, the physical and mental negative impacts wrack the body and system, etc. -- I'd have to offer up some amendments to your first and third points, but these are secondary to pharmacists starting with a firm "No way" to the 12-hour shift request/requirement of some employers. For example, you should NOT focus on carbs if you're into endurance - blended carbs, proteins, fats, electrolytes and your last two points (footwear and hydration) are needed. Continual intake of carbs only make the system work less efficiently over long periods of time. Receptor downregulation and desensitization, and systems-wide adjustments over time, make caffeine intake ineffective over the long haul and only set the system up for hardships if/when caffeine withdrawal happens. Best to not depend on it in the first place but certainly not to use it long term. (My PhD was on adenosine pharmacology - the main receptors of caffeine's actions...) Mental preparations are crucial for any success (I'm also a positive psychology coach so this is definitely preaching to the choir on this point) BUT even the best mental prep will be brought to its knees if there are other and continual mental onslaughts and physical hardships. My recommendation here is to focus on the PROBLEM(S), not the supposed solutions. Again, nice piece if this is more humorous but I'm afraid it is more serious than that? Gary Keil, PhD, RPh
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