Pharmacists and phone etiquette
A cry from telephone limbo
When I wrote my commentary titled “What kinds of pharmacists get under your skin?” I expected to be bombarded with e-mails from pharmacists who criticized me for criticizing them. It turns out I was wrong. It turns out that lots of pharmacists do indeed enjoy criticizing other pharmacists. They have lots of stuff to get off their chest about their annoying colleagues.
One of the most frequent peeves pharmacists mentioned in their e-mail feedback was that other pharmacists don’t pick up the phone for an Rx transfer. Pharmacists are placed on hold for an eternity — they’re being shown no respect whatsoever.
I received an e-mail from a pharmacist who said he is annoyed by “pharmacists who have no consideration for the time of other pharmacists. [They] leave you on the phone forever and in some instances pick up the phone, find out you are another pharmacist, and put you on hold again.”
Occasionally I have accompanied my parents to their doctors’ appointments. In my experience, when they knew another physician was calling, the docs would immediately take the phone call, even if they were with one of my parents.
Do physicians view this as professional courtesy for their colleagues? Why don’t we give a similar professional courtesy to the pharmacists waiting on the phone for a Rx transfer?
There are basically four categories of people who call the pharmacy: 1) customers, 2) nurses/receptionists, 3) physicians, and 4) other pharmacists.
In my experience, most pharmacists give priority to answering phone calls from physicians. Why shouldn’t pharmacists instead give priority to other pharmacists and let customers, physicians, and nurses/receptionists stay on hold for an eternity?
The answer of course is that ideally we shouldn’t have to put anyone on hold for an eternity. But if we have to make someone mad by placing them on hold forever, why not make the customers and physicians mad, instead of other pharmacists?
Of course, you may call this a recipe for getting ourselves fired, but I’m just saying.