The pharmacy goes click-click-click-tap-tap-tap

March 15, 2012

The message: Experience finally matters.

I had stopped in to say hello to the pharmacist. When introduced as the guy who writes this column, the kid was all over me. As if I could do something. I did help him. He had something stuck between his teeth. I pointed at my own teeth. He immediately understood and removed the offensive lettuce with a tissue.

"You have never worked retail," I said.

"The professional pharmacy doesn't count. It is some kind of Disney-ultimate-pharmacy-extreme-self-flagellation kind of experience."

I liked this kid's spirit. "I resent that," he blustered.

"Resentment won't help at the drive-through."

One size doesn't fit all

I have been reading about the new, boutique pharmacy schools and how the pharmacist shortage is disappearing. Pharmacists all over the country say that veterans are being forced out for not making the metrics or for failing to meet a flu shot quota. They wring their hands as they speculate that there is a conspiracy to make room for younger, spryer PharmDs who are willing to work faster and longer. The next step is a reduction in pay, they worry.

I don't see that that model is sustainable. Pharmacists are not one-size-fits-all. You have good old-fashioned drug store merchants who grew up in this business. A 20-something Kroger pharmacist knew exactly what I was talking about. His first job in a pharmacy was when he was 15 years old. He has never looked back. He learned about profitability and inventory control while he still wore braces. He got the message that you don't buy that new $20-a-tablet-antipsychotic medication until you see the first prescription. He knows that suppositories will not even pay the electric bill for 1 hour.