Is Your Commute Stressing You Out?

OCTOBER 17, 2017
Dr. Alex Barker highlighted the pharmacist stress challenges in “Burned Out Pharmacists: Understanding the Job's Negative Health Effects," and Dr. Adam Martin gave advice on "How Pharmacists Can Stress-Proof their Brains."
With a challenging job market and a seller’s housing market, many recent graduates might find themselves compounding that stress with longer commutes because they can’t buy homes close to work. A recent blog post had this to say about student loan repayments: “Assuming a 6% interest rate and a 10-year payback period, the monthly payment associated with the average student loan debt ($163,494) is equivalent to buying a $380,200 home (assuming 4% interest and 30-year mortgage).”
I have talked to a number of other pharmacists via social media who have a commute of an hour or longer. How much time does every 15 minutes of commuting take annually?

Here are the calculations to show just how much time you spend in the car each year:
Commute (each way)
15 minutes x 2 directions x 5 days x 50 weeks = 125 hours, about 3 40-hour weeks.
30 minutes x 2 directions x 5 days x 50 weeks = 250 hours, about 6 40-hour weeks
45 minutes x 2 directions x 5 days x 50 weeks = 375 hours, about 9 40-hour weeks
1 hour x 2 directions x 5 days x 50 weeks = 500 hours or 12 ½ 40-hours weeks
Here are 3 thoughts on easing the stress of getting to work:
1. Relax. With 3 6-year-olds at home, the drive to and from work is 1 time when I can enjoy the quiet without the demands of family life. The temptation is to immediately plug in, but appreciating the quiet at the beginning and end of my commute allows me to re-energize.
2. Learn. There are multiple podcasts that give you advice about furthering your career, your clinical abilities, or improving your finances. These include:
1. Pharmacy Podcast Network:
2. Talk to your Pharmacist:
3. RxRadio:
4. Your Financial Pharmacist:
5. HelixTalk:
6. The Elective Rotation:
7. AJHP Voices:
3. Stay home. In another social-media conversation, I talked to a pharmacist about Amazon’s possible entry into the pharmacy world. He wondered if pharmacists could work from home. Dr. Timothy Aungst covered this possibility in May in his article “Want to work for Amazon? You may get the chance soon.” Although that possibility may be far off, some pharmacists, such as Dr. Blair Thielemier, work from home. She also helps other pharmacists in non-traditional roles through her Pharmapreneur Academy ( She shared her 10 Shared Traits of Successful Pharmacist Entrepreneurs here:
Whatever you choose to do about or with your commute, acknowledging that you have control over the situation can hopefully make it a better experience.

Tony Guerra, PharmD
Tony Guerra, PharmD
Tony Guerra, PharmD, is chair, instructor, and pre-pharmacy advisor at Des Moines Area Community College's Pharmacy Technician program and Pharmacy Podcast Network Co-Host. He's Tony_PharmD on Twitter and TonyPharmD on YouTube providing Top 200 drugs and pronunciation help to over 4,500 followers with over 1 million views. His two audiobooks Memorizing Pharmacology: A Relaxed Approach and How to Pronounce Drug Names: A Visual Approach to Preventing Medication Errors are Amazon bestsellers. He graduated from Iowa State University with a BA in English and the University of Maryland with his PharmD.