Of Pharmacists and Passive-Aggressive Blogs

Do a simple google search with the search terms pharmacy and blog and you will find that the top results feature sites such as The Angry Pharmacist and Your Pharmacist May Hate You. The fact that these blogs are listed so prominently has much to do with their popularity. Having followed these blogs for I while, I suspect that their authors’ rants and raves strike a chord with many pharmacists who can identify with their experiences and viewpoints. Being unequivocally controversial probably doesn’t hurt their popularity either.

On further searching I came upon another site, this one ranking the top 50 pharmacy blogs in the blogosphere. If you take a glance at this list you will notice one interesting pattern in the blog titles. I already alluded to this above, but to clarify many of these blogs have the word Pharmacy or Pharmacist in the title combined with some colorful adjectives.

Some examples include angry, angriest, frantic, slave, pissed, soul-sucking, and politically incorrect. I wish many of my naive peers in pharmacy school would take a look of some of these blogs to get an idea of what they are potentially getting into as pharmacists. In all seriousness, these bloggers make pharmacy seem like a profession heading downhill hell.

I work in retail pharmacy so I can at least empathize with these bloggers’ experiences, but at the same time what are they (we?) contributing to the profession by being cathartic? I presume they are professional on the job so why don’t they reserve that same professionalism for the Internet? After all, their postings aren’t private by any means and they should be well aware of this if they aren’t already.

As I’ve suggested before, community pharmacy often seems like a rat race for pharmacists, so my concern really isn’t with pharmacy bloggers ranting and raving, but that they do it so often. If your work environment is that oppressive, most of the time it’s perfectly within your ability (as a competent graduate of a professional school) to change your situation, change your employer, or adapt and shut-up. It’s not good for your health to miserably endure said circumstances (ironically we’re supposed to be healthcare practitioners).

At some point you have to stop whining about stupid patients/customers. Yes, they are a fact of life when you interact with the public. But what did you expect getting into a profession involving sick people and their pursuit of anything that might bring normalcy and health back into their lives? To make things worse, community pharmacists basically police the distribution of controlled substances to the public. Then again, the real problem is much bigger than pharmacists.

If anything, we need to stop reciprocating aggression we may receive from patients and address the underlying causes of unhappiness in the pharmacy workplace. When the company model is based on a fast-food franchise, emphasizing the convenience of drive-thru windows and drugs priced cheaper than value meals, people start treating the pharmacy staff like their high school-age McDonald’s counterparts.

When you offer medication counseling as the equivalent to a packet-of-ketchup (in other words, for free), you’re selling yourself short and people start treating you as such.

As my high school history teacher used to say: move, adapt, or die. I would add: use your education and experience to make your professional life more hospitable.