Pharmacists Should Always Keep It Classy

February 27, 2015

How do you respond to disgruntled physicians, nurses, or patients?

All pharmacists have had to deal with a disgruntled patient, family member, physician, or nurse at times, and the first thing that comes to mind is not always the best response.

Over the years, I have had my fair share of offensive gestures or rude remarks while trying to do my job. Everyone gets in a bad mood now and then, so I don’t take rudeness to heart anymore.

Only through experience will you know how to handle such situations in a classy way. Here are some strategies to use when faced with these uncomfortable situations.

1. Always keep the patient the priority. It is easy to get caught up in personal feelings and turn the situation into something greater than it needs to be. All responses should focus on the care of the patient.

2. Maintain composure. When we begin to raise our voices or become very nervous, we lose control of the situation. This also disrupts the environment and pulls others into the chaos. Try to speak as calmly as possible, but also be direct with your responses.

3. Face-to-face communication is more effective. If you have the opportunity to speak with a physician or nurse in person, many times it de-escalates a situation that would have been blown out of proportion over the phone.

4. When dealing with patients, remember that they don’t want to be sick or have to get a prescription filled in the first place. Try to empathize with the situation and let some things go if possible. Assume that this is not their normal personality and if situations were different, they would act differently.

5. Never let a technician deal with or tolerate a rude patient or health care professional.

As a pharmacist, always step in and take the lead in the situation. Emphasize that you are in charge and if there are any concerns that need to be addressed, you are the appropriate person to speak with.

Those who have been practicing pharmacy for some time have grown a thick skin certain situations. Always try to keep it classy and maintain the professionalism we were taught. It's what makes our profession the most valued and trusted.