Thursday, October 23, 2014

There and back again

It's strange to go home after a month away.

I can tell you I have learned the value of having a pharmacist in your healthcare team. From chatting with patients in this clinic pharmacy, I know it takes an hour or more sometimes to check in to see a doctor and that they only see walk-in appointments for a few hours a day. It takes at least 2 hours and sometimes much longer to get a call back if you leave a message for the nurse of a provider. If a patient called the pharmacy, they spoke to a pharmacist within 3 minutes. Sometimes we could triage what was wrong (go to the hospital if you take a blood thinner and fell and now you have a headache, go to the ER if you are throwing up blood after taking a new medication, try taking your medicine with food or on an empty stomach if it makes you sick or isn't working, you are supposed to take 3 every day and not just one so see if that works, etc) sometimes we couldn't (make an appointment if you need a refill on that medication that was stolen... again...) but at least people got their questions answered rather than waiting hours. That accessibility of pharmacists is sure valuable. Then again we are often too accessible. No other healthcare provider is as likely to work overnights as a pharmacist. Doctors take turns covering nights but not regularly working them, we have a regular rotation of night pharmacists in hospitals and community pharmacies. It's really easy for people to demand to see us too, and they sure do, often to ask silly questions like:
  • "I want a flu shot. Where do I sign up?" while standing under a sign that points to "Check in for your flu shot here!"
  • "Where are the paper towels?"
  • "I need a refill of my medication." "OK, you can talk to my technician over there." SuperTech: "Which medication would you like refilled?" Patient: "The little green one." ST: "What do you take it for?" Patient: "Because my doctor says I need to take it."
  • "Why won't you vulcanize my tires while I wait?" 
So maybe that last one is a Clerks reference, but you get the gist. Because you can see the pharmacist in a community pharmacy and because we answer our own phones in the hospital, people make demands on a pharmacist that they would never dream of making on a doctor and yet we have similar educational backgrounds. Somehow pharmacists let themselves be used by everyone else, helping out people and getting nothing in return to the point that we make ourselves miserable.

Anyway, home. I've learned a lot and I'm really glad I had this experience, but it is so hard to be home. While I was gone, Little Monster learned to say "I love you." She wouldn't say it to me when we video chatted for the first few days after she learned it, but then she did it with no coaching or prompting at all, for like 3 minutes straight. She's so big. It boggles my mind.

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