Advocate for Your Pharmacy Staff

February 16, 2021
Peter A. Kreckel, RPh

Drug Topics Journal, Drug Topics February 2021, Volume 165, Issue 2

“If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he’ll eat you last.” – Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan was the most quotable president of my lifetime. The above quote truly resonates with me, especially when dealing with patients. I never use the term “customer” when they are at the prescription counter. They are here for health care, not just for making purchases.

Readers have heard me sing the praises of pharmacy technicians I’ve worked with. These technicians have allowed me to provide optimal patient care and ensure that the pharmacy is run efficiently. 

For example, Darlene worked as my technician for 24 years. She is highly organized, efficient, and a pharmacist’s best friend. Brad was my technician for the past 12 years. He started while in high school and learned the ever-cumbersome pharmacy software we used. He was a rock star at processing prescriptions and allowing me time to handle patient consultations, comprehensive medication reviews, and interventions that proved financially beneficial for my employer. The efficiency of the store didn’t depend on the pharmacist, but on whether Brad was there.

I currently have 2 excellent technicians, Hunter and George. I’ve been on the new job for only 4 months so I can’t take credit for their hiring or training. Both are whizzes with the operations of the system. Doing the paperwork and processing orders are their greatest strengths. Both are very capable data entry technicians as well. They are guiding me, the 62-year-old “new kid” on the block, through the challenges of working for a new employer.

What frustrates me is when I go to several general merchandise stores and I see signs saying, “The CUSTOMER is always right.” If the customer is always right, then who is always wrong? Talk about throwing your employees under the bus. If they are always right, my staff and I are always wrong. If I were an employee for that organization, I’d feel insulted every time I walked past such a sign. If patients tell me their physicians said there are refills on an oxycodone prescription, are they always right?

Of all the giants in the grocery store business, none shines as brightly as Wegmans. Their employees are always happy and helpful. They greet you with a genuine smile and a most caring attitude. Their attitude is their highly trained employees are always right. “Our employees are our No. 1 asset, period,” Kevin Stickles, the company’s senior vice president for human resources, told The Atlantic in 2012. “The first question you ask is: ‘Is this the best thing for the employee?’ That’s a totally different model.”

I can assure Hunter and George that I will use my 40 years’ experience on the bench to guide them so they can have fulfilling careers like Darlene and Brad. As the sun begins to set on my career, I can assure my staff I will never “feed them to the crocodile.” We owe it to our pharmacy technicians to be their strongest advocates.

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