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Sometimes the people on top make your life miserable.
Everyone has to start their career on the bottom. No matter if you’re the pharmacy manager at a large hospital or the CEO of a giant pharmacy chain or the owner of your own independent pharmacy, at some point you’ve had a boss in charge of you. And chances are, at least one of those bosses has been terrible.
Drug Topics is here to help you make the best of your pharmacy experience. We’ve shown you how to deal with stress in the pharmacy, but sometimes you just need to commiserate with other pharmacists over the terrible things that are completely out of your control. And if you’ve ever worked for a terrible boss, the one thing you know is that they often can’t be controlled. Take the pharmacist who watched a boss throw a pizza at the wall, or the one who was asked to work while in a hospital bed.
So fear not readers! We’ve got your backs, even if your supervisor doesn’t.
Up next: How dare you not be in two places at once!
I had a boss get mad at me for staying past my shift because the next pharmacist was late. I asked if I should leave the hospital without a pharmacist, and I was told "well, no." I asked if my boss was going to be there every change of shift so I could leave on time. My boss replied, “no way.” One time the guy didn't show up at all and I worked and extra 8 hours. When I put in my notice the boss kept putting me on the schedule. I told him I was done and I didn't care if he put me on the schedule I wasn't working there anymore. He tore up my pharmacy license. When I told HR he paid to have the license reprinted. What a nice guy.
I worked for a chain a few years back. At that time, my wife and I had a newborn and my store was filling 3,000+ prescriptions a week. I told my supervisor that I wasn't handling the stress and I needed to switch to a slower store for a while to regroup and help at home. I was told that there only two directions in the company: up or out. Shortly after, I gave my two-week notice to move to a regional chain that saves you the run around. My supervisor called to see what they could do to keep me, asked if I was getting more money. I actually took a big pay cut, but instead of working 50-60 hours per week I was working 40, so I literally just bought tax-free family time.
I was a 25-year-old new graduate just out of pharmacy school in the mid-1980s and took a staff pharmacist position in a chain drug store that was located in a very small rural community in Pennsylvania; a three-pharmacist store. This was a very busy store, the kind of one where no one had the time to show you the ropes. The pharmacy manager/store manager was very well-respected in the community but very mean to all the employees. He would even berate and yell at you for the most mundane occurrence in front of others. Back then, a pharmacy manager was in charge of the whole store, front-end and all. It was tough working there and every employee was always walking on egg shells. To his credit, the store manager always gave fantastic service. However, it was not uncommon to begin hearing yelling from somewhere in the store and wonder who was on his radar now.
One day, I had just gotten off the phone getting a prescription order for the local nursing home. Apparently, the nursing home delivery man was just walking out the door. I had yet to meet or get introduced to this delivery driver so I had no idea who he was. The manager begins to berate and yell at me in expletives saying the driver just left and so on. The moment had arrived. I’d had enough of this. I turned towards him in the pharmacy area and in the loudest most forceful voice a 25-year-old could muster I said, "Well if someone took the time to teach me what's going on around here these types of DAMN things wouldn't happen." Then there was instant, total-store silence. You could actually hear every employee all the way up to the front of the store gasp with utter disbelief.
The mean manager told me, "If I don't yell at all of you here, then I will just end up yelling at my wife and kids at home." That was his response. That was his reasoning. I told him it's simply not right and you need to change. If pharmacists today don't think pharmacies weren't stressful back in the 1980s, think again. Needless to say, this young pharmacist earned some new respect and admiration from the store employees that day. The manager settled down quite a bit, and life got a little bit better. In fact, he then invited me to play basketball with him and the local doctors on Wednesday nights.
Our boss is a gossip queen. She loves to spread gossip about everything (except she forgets to tell us when detrimental things happen to our own department). Every year when we are evaluated, there is usually at least one of us who gets some kind of disparaging comment. Our best pharmacist was told she was “hormonal” because she was upset about unavailability of medications. One year, a technician was told that everyone could tell when she was near "that time of the month." Another one was told she acted like she was on crack the way she ran around the pharmacy getting work done. But they keep my boss in her position because she manages to always come in under budget. Zero professionalism whatsoever.
I was opening up and two elderly women came in who wanted a flu shot. Then another person came in, complaining of chest pain and fell to the floor. I began CPR and asked the manager to call 911. He then began to yell at me because these two women were first and wanted a flu shot. After paramedics came, he told me I was going to be reported to headquarters because I was rude.
My first boss in a chain drug store in 1976 thought it was inappropriate to counsel patients on their medicines. I once gave a patient a package insert, and he blew his top after reading her letter to the editor in our local paper, complimenting me on being so forthright about prescription drug information. My boss saw it and could not believe I gave this patient the insert.
At the start of a huge snowstorm, people were coming in frantically to get their prescriptions filled due to the predicted amount that was to come (+2 feet). The boss was asked to help with the line at check out since technically we were closed. He disappeared and no one could find him. We saw him carrying his brief case to his car in the parking lot. Way to go down with the ship. No respect for anyone like that.
Not even an email?
As a part-time pharmacist, I'm not at work every day. On one of my off days, one of my star technicians called me to ask if I knew that I was being moved to the "floating pharmacist" pool. My boss told the staff before she told me that I was losing my position at my store. Don't feel too bad for me; that gave me the shove I needed to find a new job with a great company and a MUCH better boss.
I wasn't paid for a month when I started my new job. When I called my boss to double-check on the update she said, "I didn't know you are so desperate for money."
My first boss in pharmacy, when I was just an intern (and didn't even know what acetaminophen was), was so impatient with me she made it a daily habit of yelling at me in front of other staff members and customers. What was supposed to be a dream summer job on Martha's Vineyard turned into my own personal nightmare. My hands would shake every morning before my shift started, and I couldn't quit because I needed her to sign off on my internship hours. Midway through the summer, she got into an argument with her partner, and they threw a pizza across the prescription room which splattered on the wall. It was then I realized that it wasn't just me-my boss was certifiably nuts.
My boss-a non-pharmacist, but the pharmacy owner for 20 years--used to be behind the Rx counter while I worked. I was the supervising pharmacist. A prescription was presented to me for generic Mycolog-ll Cream-nystatin/triamcinolone Cream. We did not have the cream in stock and I told the customer we could order it for the next day. My boss pulled out (plain) Nystatin Cream off the shelf and said to me, "just give her this. It's the same damn thing." I explained to him it's not and he was mad at me for not dispensing it.
My mother died on a Sunday morning in 2008 and of course I was scheduled to work that day. I called my district manager at 7 a.m. with the news and his response was "Not my problem!" and then he hung up on me. I could not risk my job so I worked, and I am still experiencing the repercussions from my family to this day.
I called in sick one day, one of only two times in my 29 years as a hospital pharmacist. My boss walked around, ranting that I was faking and not ill. When my name came across the patient intake and as I was heading to surgery for emergency appendectomy, he rushed into OR holding, acting all concerned. The day after he brought a laptop to my hospital room and asked if I could input orders since I was just sitting around.
A former boss told me that I was worth "double points" on his diversity scoring. I inquired what he meant, and he said “you're a woman and you're Hispanic.” I found that extremely offensive-and it wasn't even accurate. I'm a pasty white girl with red hair and freckles who married a Hispanic man. I don't think he understood the meaning of the word diversity.
I had been working for an independent pharmacy for 11 months when my father died suddenly. I contacted the owner/pharmacist. It happened on a Monday, which happened to be my normal day off. He told me to take as much time as I needed, since my father wanted to be buried with his family, 450 miles from my home. After two funerals and the required flights, rental car, hotels, and efforts to keep three other family members together I returned to work the following Tuesday which was my normal start of the week. I was given a check for the previous week and I thanked the owner. Six months later he informed me that I had to make up the time for my father's funeral. I told him that he shouldn't have paid me for that time, if that was how he really felt. I worked the extra time-and left several months later.
I worked for a chain that was obsessed with numbers. At the end of the fiscal year it was imperative that we have a minuscule inventory in order to inflate the number of turns our inventory had. My district manager told me one year that I was no longer to place any more orders at all until the new year. We still had 5 weeks to go. I tried to clarify, asking if it were still okay to order items that were needed, such as birth control and high ticket items that would be sold before the year end. He told me no. When I asked him how I should respond when customers complained that their necessary medications would not be available, he responded that you could not please everybody. I was shocked then and still am.