Have you heard the one...

February 19, 2007

Have you heard the joke about the pharmacist? Well you can bet Nicholas Hoesl has. In more than 40 years as a pharmacist, Hoesl has probably heard them all, and he has taken it as his mission to share humor with the rest of the world.

In an effort that began with quips over the counter with patients and jokes behind the counter with colleagues, Hoesl recently compiled his favorites in a self-published book Laughter: The Drug of Choice, an A to Z compendium of healthcare-related jokes, wordplay, and quotations. "I've been collecting jokes for years," he recently told Drug Topics. "I'd collect jokes I heard in the store and write them on prescription blanks."

Humor is not the only way Hoesl has found to give back to society. As a young pharmacist, he "got caught up in the words of President Kennedy," he recalled. Joining the Peace Corps, Hoesl traveled to Afghanistan where he taught pharmacy students in Kabul. Since then, he has continued his commitment to sharing his pharmacy experience worldwide. He has traveled to four continents to volunteer as a pharmacist. Countries he has worked in include Mexico, Tanzania, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, and China. "Finding more pharmacists is the most critical need for international medical volunteers," he insisted.

Even in the twilight of his career, Hoesl keeps himself active. He is known around Cincinnati for running mini-marathons in a bunny costume-"I switched to a flying pig," he admitted. "It keeps me going." He also has become interested in laughter clubs, a movement started in India and gaining popularity in the United States, and is now a Certified Laugh Leader.

In between, Hoesl works one day a week at the Visconti-Lechler Pharmacy in Cincinnati. "It keeps me active," he confided. "The money is nice, but I would do it without it at this stage in life. Getting someone to laugh and feel at ease can help convey a point, such as compliance and how a medication can help speed healing." Also, Hoesl admitted he enjoys the fact that each day a new audience walks up to the counter. After all, you never know when you'll hear a new joke.