Beth Lofgren, PharmD, BCPS
Beth Lofgren, PharmD, BCPS
Beth Lofgren, PharmD, BCPS, received her PharmD degree from the University of Tennessee at Memphis in 1999, after completing a BS at the University of Tennessee at Martin. She started her pharmacy career in retail and has practiced in home health, long-term care, and hospital pharmacy. She has also been blogging as the Blonde Pharmacist since 2004, focusing on education for peers and provider status for pharmacists.

How to Handle Rejection from Prescribers

JUNE 07, 2015
Have you ever thought of rejection as something that can be used for greatness?

When facing rejection, the first impulse is usually to withdraw and criticize the methods. But what if it were turned into a learning opportunity instead?

Take, for example, the issue that comes up when a pharmacist has to call the prescriber about his or her choice of medication. How can pharmacists convince a change without looking like they are pointing out mistakes the prescriber made?

I hear pharmacists in the field make comments about physicians’ personalities and how 1 prescriber always says "no" to any recommendation, while another is just plain “not nice.” Many times, hospitals are using clinical pharmacists to manage medications with a cost savings plan in mind.

That can sometimes clash with what the prescriber believes, or mean the pharmacist is bringing a valuable piece of knowledge to the table that the prescriber will appreciate. Whatever the reason, learning how to approach the physician and using it as an opportunity to improve can turn a rejection into a positive.

One of the reasons why pharmacists have such fear of rejection is they take it personally. However, the prescriber or manager rejected the proposal or effort, not the pharmacist!

Rejection should not make pharmacists feel less important. Dive in and ask why the recommendation wasn’t accepted, and then move on. The more you ask and are rejected (or accepted), the less it will sting.

If pharmacists can learn how to detach emotions from a "yes" or "no" outcome, it will help them gain real confidence in the face of potential rejection.

Building a relationship with the prescriber by actually being on the floor and picking up the phone helps, as well. A note left on a chart can easily be ignored, but being assertive in person helps improve the relationship with the prescriber, and also gives the prescriber a chance to hear and respond to a request in real time. In the meantime, the prescriber is getting to know the pharmacist better.

If pharmacists asked the right questions to find out why a prescriber said "no," they could learn a lot about why their idea to change something was rejected, or just learn it is the prescriber’s prerogative. If all of this is handled well, pharmacists could use that "no" to build a relationship and eventually trust.

If pharmacists focused a little more on approach and building relationships with prescribers, the number of acceptances would increase and make more of a difference. In the meantime, pharmacists shouldn't let rejection keep them from asking questions. How you handle rejection could be the very thing keeping you from excelling as a clinical pharmacist.


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