Four prescriptions for successful pharmacy practice


The most powerful drug in your pharmacy is not what you may think.

The big pharmaceutical companies are saying that communication is the next big drug.

We pharmacists are the ones doing that communicating.

They were right about Prozac. They were right about Lipitor. They are right about us.

Let’s capitalize on this.

Don’t underestimate your power

While you may not have the power to jump on a plane to meet with the CEO of Walgreens, there are places you do have power.

Many pharmacists fear that machines will replace us, but while robots may be able to count and pour faster than we can, they can’t inspire people to reach for wellness. Only a human being can do that. You aren’t just dispensing pills; you are dispensing hope, joy, comfort, and inspiration.

There was a mom who came in to pick up the tobramycin solution dispensed for her daughter, who had just had eye surgery. She asked the pharmacist to tell her how to administer the drops.

She was crying as she said that her daughter’s suffering was all her fault. She let her daughter play with a plastic spoon, and the child poked herself in the eye. This mom’s burden wasn’t ignorance about eyedrops, it was her feelings of guilt.

When the pharmacist told her that she did more right than wrong and that it could’ve happened to anyone, she stopped crying and sighed with relief. Kind words can be more powerful than pills.  


Don’t diss

When we are irritable, which is often before our day even begins, we are tempted to disparage our customers and even our co-workers.

The cure for that is to sit on your emotional reactions. You can let off the hook someone who yells at you about high copays by nodding quietly, speaking softly, and offering options for solving the problem. 

After the interaction is over, don’t rehash it or tell your co-workers how irrational or crazy that person was. This spreads the negativity.

You save yourself so much energy every time you let emotional situations dissipate on their own. Make this a habit and before you know it, you will have plenty of energy at the end of each day that you can use for all the things you enjoy.


Don’t add to the misery

Think about what you can say in the moment that can uplift, and then act on it.

It can be something really small, like telling the child whose amoxicillin you just dispensed that he has a good mom who gives him good medicine to make him feel better.

Tell that overwhelmed wife that not only will she get through her husband’s cardiac care, she will be his champion in getting him back to health.

You get what you give. Each time you say something that lifts someone’s spirits, your spirits go along for the ride.


Don’t let cynicism rule your mind

We’ve been bonding over misery for decades now, and we’re going to ride this downward spiral right into obsolescence. It doesn’t have to be that way if we take our own medicine and flip the paradigm around.

To fix big problems requires many small steps. That’s the crux of the matter for the chronic lifestyle-related diseases that plague this country.

Do we tell our diabetic patients to go to bed and hope to be 50 pounds lighter by the morning? No. We teach them to take their medications, choose good food, and exercise every day. Little by little they start to feel better, the weight comes off, and the medications are reduced.

The same happens with us. When you realize the power of your words, you begin to see your true value. You do this every day until it’s a habit.

Then, when enough of us truly see our value, we will be in a perfect position to speak about it - to influence others to see our role as true change-makers in healthcare.

You just may be the most powerful drug in that pharmacy, but until you realize it, no one else will.

Mary Sheehanis a registered pharmacist with a retail chain in northeast Ohio. You can contact her through her website:  

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