Today I am taking a bit of a different approach here at Helpful Pharmacist. I don’t always talk about my personal goings on but today I would like to do just that. I have some things going on at work now that are going to really change my job. This has been on my mind a lot so I decided to share it with you guys. I hope you can relate, or find this interesting. If not, know that writing about it is at least therapeutic for me.
So, what is the big deal, you ask? In just about two weeks from now, we are going to install a new computer software system in my store. Learning new software may just be the most challenging and difficult thing you can ever ask a pharmacy staff to do. We spend a huge percentage of our time pecking away at our computers. My techs can barely ever step away from their terminals during the day. Now we will be changing everything about those computers. Scary, right?
Do You Know What DOS Is?
Our current operating system is a dos-based system. If you answered “yes” to the question above, you are probably dating yourself. Think about a black computer screen with green letters on it. If you had an Apple IIE back in the day (like me in 8th grade), or a Commodore 64 these ran dos systems. Imagine the computers they used in the movies Weird Science and War Games, the TV show Knight Rider, and I think I remember Doogie Howser finishing each episode typing in his computer diary on a dos system.
Do you remember using the function keys? F1 – F8! Those keys run everything on our computers. We don’t even use the mouse! We do have color now, so at least it isn’t still the green letters.
As you can see, we DEFINITELY need this upgrade.
Oh my, the staff. How are they going to handle such a big change? Let me start by saying I have a fantastic staff of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians at my store. I challenge you to find a better staff anywhere. We are old school. Our customer service is second to none. This team has been together a long time and has a ton of experience. We all genuinely like each other, and help each other out all day long. We do have a tendency to resist change and, sometimes we struggle on the technology side. I have one staff member who doesn’t even own a cell phone. Another has to ask for help just about any time she needs to visit an outside website.
I have been working on these guys for months, trying to encourage them and tell them how much better things will be when the new software gets here. I think they are starting to buy it.
What I can tell you for sure is that we always step up when things are tough. Every day we have to deal with some kind of adversity that we hadn’t planned on. This will be no different. It is going to be a rough end of the year but we will make it.
If you are in my industry you are probably doing the math right now to figure out exactly when our conversion is taking place. You are probably asking yourself if this is really happening at this time of year. Yes, the week after Thanksgiving folks. Anyone who works in a pharmacy knows that the week after Thanksgiving is one of the most challenging weeks of the year. It absolutely defies logic to change your operating system during this week. I have let my opinion on this matter be known (loudly) to no avail. Actually, they did move it back from Tuesday to Wednesday. So, there’s that, at least. This is what we have to deal with and we will. It will be worth it….eventually.
How will our patients respond to our difficulties? I already know the answer to this question. The answer is: they will be just fine. We have the nicest and most understanding patients in the world. The reason is that they know us, and they like us. Our store is in an aging neighborhood. Many of them have been shopping with us for 10, 20, 30 years and for a lot of that time they have seen the same people working behind our counters. When we give them that look that says “things aren’t going well right now” they know it and they understand.
Now, Mrs. Know-it-all, Mr. Narcotic, Mr. Last-Minute, Mr. Discount-card and Miss I-ran-out-of-medicine-three-days-ago are going to be unbearable. Some people are oblivious to the world around them. We will have to deal with them. I promise to try to not let them get to me.
Impact on My Career?
Will this impact my career? I am still doing the same job in the same store. Why would it? My hope is that it will propel me to a place where I can control my time better. Right now I spend almost all of my time counting pills, folding papers, and sticking stickers. Our new workflow is paperless until the very last step. The pills are counted by someone else. I won’t have to put stickers on anything, or sign or initial anything. This will have a big impact on who does what in the store.
One thing I will have to handle more often is the cash register. That may sound like a negative, but it will get me in front of my patients, where I should be. I miss chatting with them and getting to know them. I feel like I am always too busy to look up. And when I do have 5 minutes, I am turning immediately to some corporate-mandated side task.
It is time to get back to the job I am supposed to be doing. My main purpose in the pharmacy is supposed to be talking to patients. I am supposed to be using what I learned in pharmacy school to teach them, guide them, encourage them, answer their questions. I don’t do enough of that now and, as a result, I often find myself leaving frustrated at the end of the day. Our jobs are tough. We always have more work than we can handle. We go as fast as we can all day, every day. If you go to the pharmacy on a regular basis you can see what I am talking about.
Wish me good luck now and don’t call me over the holidays. I will be at work. Hopefully we will all emerge from the rubble in a better place. We will see. I am optimistic. I’ll be sure to check back in and let you all know how it went.
If you have crazy changes at work that you want to talk about, or just want to send some encouragement to us, please do. I will be sure to share it with everyone at the store.