Community Pharmacist Roundtable, Part 3

In this last installment of the series, our expert pharmacists weigh in on a variety of issues

Welcome back to the last installment of the Community Pharmacist Roundtable. In Part 1, our expert pharmacists were introduced. In Part 2, they read a second round of questions, and provided answers. In this final part, they weigh in on a variety of issues.

Question: Do you have any tricks to deal with difficult patients?

Eva Kasbohm, PharmD: Empathize and explain. Acknowledge their frustration and try to solve their problem. Show them you’re on their side. If they’re mad about a law or policy that’s prohibiting them from getting a controlled substance early, then just be nice and explain that you’re just doing your due diligence. Always be nice. The angrier they get, the sweeter I become.

Whitney Rae Kinder, PharmD: Kill them with kindness, Really, what Eva said above. I find when I go to counsel and am super nice when they’ve been rude to my team, they will eventually realize they are being a butthead.

Sarah White, PharmD: Let them get out what they want to say. I've found that simply standing there and letting them get their side/vent/whatever out goes a long way towards getting a situation resolved in a manner that everyone is satisfied with

Ashley Gulyas, PharmD: Just let them talk. Just don’t say anything. Let them get it out. Sympathize but don’t let them treat you like they are customers. Customers don’t have many rights, and they are always right. Patients are different than customers, and the relationship has to be based on trust, not customer service. Don’t buy people off. It cheapens our profession and sets a standard that you’re going to give them something extra when you’re doing your best and have their best interests in mind. Offer suggestions to fix the problem such as immediate text message services on Rx status updates, closing out old Rxs, auto-refill. Show them that you want to fix their issue, so it’s not so difficult next time.

Michelle Taylor Harmon, PharmD: Listen. Kill them with kindness. Offer solutions. Help them take ownership.

Aakash Gandhi, PharmD: I've found that it's best to let them complain or say whatever they want to say without instigating more out of them. Some people are just impossible to please, possibly because of legal matters, aka controlled medications, but aside from that, I explain the situation to the patient and offer solutions.

Q: What is the 1 piece of advice you would give to a new pharmacist starting out in retail pharmacy?

White: Don't let bad days define you or your job. Work is what you make of it. If you go in with a negative attitude, that's how your day will go. If you go in with a positive attitude, at least you've given the day a chance at being good.

Chara Reid, PharmD: Get a thick skin quickly. Don't let corporate bully you into being too fast. Stick to safe wait times. When I worked solo, I refused to stop what I was doing to ring up random stuff. I'd tell people, they can wait, and I'll be with them in 10 to 15 minutes. I was helping several customers ahead of them. If they want faster service, go up front where the cashiers are there to ring customers

Gulyas: One prescription at a time. Devote all of your attention to that Rx for a few seconds, and don’t get distracted. Also, trust your techs and treat them with respect. Ask for their advice or insight into patients. They can make or break your day. Appreciation, lunch and coffee go a long way to reward them or just show that you care!

Larry Riggi, PharmD: You’re going to have good days, and you’re going to have really really bad days. There will be days where you do 400 scripts you yourself and it felt like you did 200 and then days where you did 200 and it felt like a thousand, It's the nature of the beast. Don't let the bad days define who you are as a person or a pharmacist. For all the bad days, you will have that 1 day or that 1 customer that remind you why you do this, why you went into this profession, and why you continue to put up with those bad days. No matter how great a pharmacist you are or how quick you are, be ready for those days when nothing goes your way and you’re in the red all day or everything just beats you down. It’s going to happen. There's no avoiding it.

Also don't be afraid to ask for help. We're all in this together. I ask friends who are pharmacists and other pharmacists in my district questions all the time. Sometimes, you just need to ask how someone would handle a situation or you need help with a legal question or even questioning a dose or an interaction. It always helps to bounce your questions off someone who's in the trenches right along with you. It doesn't make you a bad pharmacist to ask for help. It makes you a better pharmacist for realizing you don't know everything and you are utilizing your resources

Harmon: Find a mentor, someone who has been doing this for a long time. Use them as a resource. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know." Get good shoes. See a podiatrist. Take care of your health. Treat your techs with respect. Never act better than them.

Q: How do you recharge and relax on your days/shifts off, so that you are rested for your next shift?

Harmon: Depends on the severity of the need to recharge. A complete recharge often requires my husband to go fishing and let me have the house to myself. I read [and] catch up on DVRed shows.

I do keep up with my workouts, even the 6 a.m. ones.

If the kids are around, then we try to do something as a family. But with both driving, they never seem to be home!

White: When I worked 12-hour shifts, I’d take a midday nap on my day off.

Now I usually do housework that’s mindless (vacuum, dishes, etc.) with my music playing through the sound bar and sing/dance along. It’s very relaxing and lets my mind recover.

Cynthia Barrera, PharmD: I make sure to write down all the problems I need to work on for when I come back, so it could be anything, staffing issues or which patients to call or what needs to be prioritized. I unplug, try not to be too near my phone all day. I’ll get back to them when I can!

Gulyas: I make it clear to my staff that unless it’s an emergency, please don’t contact me when I’m off, that my staff pharmacist is in charge. I also do my side business, quilt and craft, and play with my kids. I also love anything I can watch on Netflix or Amazon, especially documentaries.

Riggi: I like to do 1 of 2 things: My wife and I watch a lot of shows, so we will catch up on some of our shows we have recorded, or I play some Xbox with college buddies, it helps to decompress and not think about anything

Gandhi: I get my full 8 hours of sleep and plenty of exercise on my days off

We covered a lot of ground with our pharmacists here at the 3 roundtable sessions. Thank you to all the pharmacists who participated.