A Pharmacist's New Year's Resolutions

January 23, 2019

One of our columnists recounts his major New Years moments and offers 2019 hopes for the pharmacy profession. 

New Year’s Day is a just one of 365 days on the calendar, but I think most of us look forward to getting the previous year behind us and to begin anew.

My most memorable New Year’s Eve was 1980. At my instruction, Denise sat in her Dad’s rocking chair. I got down on one knee, opened a small box and asked “Denise Marie Kubitsky, will you marry me?” 

The next day began 1981, the year we graduated pharmacy school, got married on July 4, and changed jobs a couple times. By November we had embarked on a 25-year career in independent community pharmacy, working for an eight-store chain near Altoona, PA. Never did I imagine the impact that Dec. 31, 1980, would have on most of my life.

On New Year’s Eve 1997, we made plans to join three families to ring in the New Year in a cabin at a local state park. We went to Headache Hill for an afternoon of sled riding. We loaded up our new toboggan and shoved off. We flew down the hill. Unfortunately we hit a ditch, and everyone flew off the sled. My 10-year-old son landed on my left tibia and I heard a loud snap. I lay there in the snow, and they loaded all 300 pounds of me onto a pickup truck and hauled me down to an ambulance waiting on the road. I arrived at the hospital around 4 p.m. Dr. Charles Harvey, the orthopedic surgeon came to the ER dressed in a tuxedo, ready for a wonderful evening. He looked at my X-ray and told the nurse, “Call my wife. I’ll be in surgery tonight.”  I’ll never forget this man sacrificing an elegant evening with his wife to tend to my needs.

I was off work for six months and worked on weight reduction and physical therapy. Denise went back to work full-time to help cover my schedule. The people in my community sent dinner so often, we never turned on the stove for six weeks. I lost 80 pounds, and my patients thought I had cancer. New Year’s Eve 1997 was a life-changer.

As a patient, I saw the difference compassion can make; the caring attitude of my orthopedic surgeon, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists and of course my family, got me through this most difficult year.

It also taught me a life lesson on how just a kind word, a pleasant smile, or making an enormous sacrifice as my orthopedic surgeon did, can make such a difference in a patient’s life.

There are a lot of resolutions that we make at the end of a calendar year. I promote this flip of the calendar to all my patients in the clinic as an opportunity to set a “quit date” to stop smoking. What better day to commit to a life-changing practice than to quit smoking? 

Virtually every year my resolution is to lose weight. The average American gains at least six pounds over the holiday. What better way to end “eating season” than to commit oneself to a healthier lifestyle?

My hope for 2019 is that changes be made in this profession. Like a broken tibia, it might be painful at first, but the long-term rewards will be of great benefit. I’d like to see employers provide more staff and tools so we foot soldiers can do our job with a lot less stress. I’d like to see the PBMs go away and reroute some of their extreme profits into the cash registers of the pharmacies that do all the work.

My biggest hope is for me and you to be able to enjoy this amazing profession, all along providing our patients with the care they so desperately need and deserve.

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