The runners-up in our second annual essay contest share their stories of putting in the extra effort necessary to ensure their patients get the best care possible.
For our second annual essay contest, we asked our readers to write about their best day as a pharmacist. When we read the entries, we found stories about making personal connections with patients, sleuthing out potentially harmful interactions, and generally going above and beyond the normal call of duty. To read the essay of our contest winner, Zara Risoldi Cochrane, PharmD, who wrote about serving on a humanitarian mission to Indonesia, click here
The essays of our 3 runners-up show that you don't have to travel halfway across the world to make a difference. To read their essays, click on their names or scroll down. And thanks again to everyone who entered the contest.
Inna Yeselson, RPh
Pharmacist at Atlantic Heights Pharmacy, Brooklyn, New York
My name is Inna Yeselson, and I am registered pharmacist in New York and New Jersey. I chose the profession because I wanted to help people. I graduated from Long Island University in 1992, and in the last 20 years our profession has endured numerous changes, increased pressure, competition, and battles with managed care.
I love retail pharmacy because the face-to-face contact with a patient is priceless and can make a difference in someone's life. I wish that pharmacists had more time to counsel patients on not only their medications, but also about lifestyle modifications, vitamins, and find out more about their medical conditions.
Sometimes we get caught in the daily grind of bill, fill, verify, dispense, and give a patient package insert.
I began working at an outpatient pharmacy at Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, NY, about 2 years ago. It was my second week, and a man came to pick up prescriptions for his wife. The prescriptions were sent via fax from the hospital. The patient was a 40-year-old African-American woman, and she was given high doses of several blood pressure lowering medications including Procardia XL, labetalol, amlodipine, and enalapril.
As I was putting the medications through, I heard the cashier ask how the man’s wife and their newborn son were doing. He replied that they were being discharged in the next hour and he had come to get her medications.
I stopped what I was doing and came around and asked if his wife intended to breastfeed. He said that she was not considering any other option. I then inquired if her OB/GYN and her cardiologist were aware of her intent and her medication regimen. He replied that the doctors did not speak to one another and no one warned her to at least exercise caution.
I asked if I could call the cardiologist, and he agreed. The doctor did not think that this woman was going to breastfeed and adjusted her medications and was glad that I took the time to call him.
The greatest feeling for me was that I potentially prevented a serious adverse event by just being alert and interested in the patient. Needless to say the husband was touched that I cared enough to ask, call, verify, and explain to him about the medications, their potential effect on the baby through breast milk, and showed genuine care.
I remember this gentleman to this day and try to ask as many questions from the patients as I can, especially if they are new customers.
Melinda (Lloyd) Gibson, RPh
Pharmacist at CVS/Caremark in the Richmond, Virginia, area
It was the late '70's: pre-electronics, manually typed and billed everything. No computers, no cell phones, no immediate information sources. I had been out of pharmacy school for about 2 years and was working in a small farm town in western Ohio.
One morning the wife of a customer rushes in to the pharmacy counter, very frantic and not sure what can be done to help her husband. He had flown out that morning for a weeklong business conference, and when she returned home after taking him to the airport, she had found his bottles of Dilantin and phenobarbital sitting on their bathroom counter. His next doses were due shortly after his arrival at his hotel and the start of the conference. His condition had recently been diagnosed and his phenytoin levels were still being closely monitored.
The lady wasn't sure how to get his prescription information to a pharmacy near his hotel. Directory assistance would not give me any phone numbers without the specific name of a pharmacy, so I named all the chains I could think of that were operating in the South at that time. I finally guessed one company with a location near the hotel he would be staying at and transferred the prescriptions to them, explaining the situation. The pharmacist there was very helpful and assured me that he would take care of my customer.
The lady was very relieved, and she went home to leave messages with the airline and at the hotel for her husband to contact her immediately. She came back later that afternoon carrying a vase full of the most beautiful roses for me, very happy that everything turned out so well. Her husband did not even know that he had forgotten his prescriptions and was able to pick them up before he had missed any doses. It was a good day!
Bob Meggingson, RPh
Pharmacist at Walmart, Thomasville, Alabama
PA or Blood Clot!
It was late on a Saturday night, just before closing, when I got a prescription for Lovenox.
The patient had had major hip replacement surgery and had been discharged from the hospital 150 miles away.
We ran the prescription through the insurance and, you guessed it, a PA was required! The cost of the Rx was $853, which the patient did not have.
I am a third-generation pharmacist, and my grandfather taught me to always take care of the patient.
He had taken care of our little town during the Depression by attending to patients’ health care needs, offering charge accounts or even filling prescriptions for free.
Today it is usually cash or credit cards, again which the patient did not have.
I took my personal credit card and paid the $853. Monday morning we got the doctor involved and got the PA!
The insurance paid the claim, I got my refund back on the Lovenox, and the patient did not get a blood clot!
Taking care of the patient is what it is all about.