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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.


    Brain training

    2. Mental Preparation

    Mental acuity is a concern on these 12-hour shifts. Your brain must be ready to check prescriptions and simultaneously give a flu vaccine, counsel patients, un-jam the printer, double-count your narcotics and explain the atenolol shortage to the doctor’s secretary, all while on hold with your patient’s PBM.

    We all start the day sharp. But about the 400th time we explain to a patient that we cannot control when their refill request is returned, the mental fog starts to settle in. I have personally found that mental exercises help. Try memorizing the phone numbers of the top 20 pharmacy help desks and the exact aisle and location of the cat food to keep the brain strong for these long days.

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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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