RESILIENCE…DO PHARMACISTS HAVE IT? billbrownblog.com May 27/19

Resilience sounds like such a positive word.  The word connotes ‘toughing it out’, not being a ‘quitter’, strength of mind & spirit, and all the characteristics associated with personal development, and leadership.

Recently there has been some urging from many circles to look for some positive stories in pharmacy, to look at the bright side, and to focus on solutions rather than the same old harping and complaining about the state of affairs.  Who could argue with this call for the positive rather than dwelling on the negative?

In a recent piece in the Globe & Mail,

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-put-down-the-self-help-books-resilience-is-not-a-diy-endeavour/

The argument is presented that research shows that resilience depends more on what we receive and interact with than what we have within us.  Surprise.

Extrapolating this to the pharmacy naysayers who write or comment on the present state of the pharmacy profession, there may be some downside to this urge to “make the best of things” and to looking for ways of finding solutions to the many problems pharmacy faces from within.

Looking for solutions solely within oneself is not going to cut it.  Eight five percent of pharmacy is now controlled by Big Pharmacy Retail (BPR), and not only in Canada.  Look to what CVS has done to the pharmacy profession in the US since Aetna purchased it.  Look at the situation in the UK with Boots since it was bought out by private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.  Pharmacy is really BIG business.

Accepting what is dealt out in life, or love, or work, and then toughening it out through some association with this being a sign of strength of character is exactly what controlling parties wants.  The dynamics never change in such a scenario.  The oppressed party keeps on buying self help books, and things remain much the same.

The message here, and it is a positive one, is that all the will power, strength of character and resilience in the world are never going to help if one stays in the same place and accepts the environment presented.  It’s the people and the circumstances and the support systems around a person that will move that person from a cesspool of self pity and unhappiness, to a place where self fulfillment has a chance.  Without a change in environment, one may look tough, but one will remain on the losing side of the court.

Everyone knows what needs to be done to return pharmacy to the  profession it once was, but steps to get there appear steep, long & daunting

The pharmacy associations like the OPA do not appear to be heading in a new direction any time soon, and to representing the interests of everyday working pharmacists, despite ever-increasing pressure to do so.  If anything, recent political events in Ontario and Alberta would suggest that these powerless bodies continue to get caught flat footed by government.

The regulatory bodies like the OCP have zero interest in sustaining a professional working environment where pharmacy professionals can thrive and exercise their professional duties.  They continue to define their role in the narrowest of terms, even as the profession continues to slip ever further under the control of commercial vested interests.   Reminds you of the band on the Titanic

Hope.  Recently it appears that some International Pharmacy Graduates (IPGs) are beginning to look at opportunities back in their home countries, now that they have accepted that they were duped by BPR and the regulatory bodies into believing there was a pharmacist shortage in Canada.

More.  Career advisers are beginning to take a second look at suggesting pharmacy as a wise career choice.   Some of the news stories and comments have reached  young people and they are beginning to listen.  These comments are making a difference.   Saving even one student from a poor career choice is worth it.

It is acceptance, delusion and misdirected hope which have contributed to some of the worst catastrophes in human history.  So, it’s OK to get mad and to speak out.  Then to search for ways to change one’s environment to where talent, determination, strength of character, and yes resilience matter.

10 thoughts on “RESILIENCE…DO PHARMACISTS HAVE IT? billbrownblog.com May 27/19

  1. Nice counter to the “happy pharmacist” CHN piece.

    This article might interest you-
    “If we do not stand up for ourselves, who will? Don’t be afraid to speak up”
    https://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/if-we-do-not-stand-up-for-ourselves-who-will-dont-be-afraid-to-speak-up/11134175.article?firstPass=false

    “staying silent over suboptimal working conditions does not make us “tough” or “good workers””

    “We are not here to play Russian roulette with our registration or to help drive profits at the expense of patient safety.”

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    • This is exactly why we should be encouraging complaints and listening to the dissatisfaction from front line pharmacists. Looking for “happy pharmacists” may make good copy but it is not a reflection of the reality that pharmacy has serious challenges before it. As long as the profession continues to be controlled by commercial vested interests the situation can only get worse.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Having a positive view to all aspects of life is great. Negative and pessimistic views have been proven to cause ones health to deteriorate. However, one must make a distinction between a person who is always pessimistic and negative and one who complains about things not being “perfect” or not to the high standards that should be expected. When pharmacists complain about the state of our profession, it means that they care about the deterioration of their livelihood. Why are they accused of being negative and pessimistic? A pharmacist who stays silent and just hides is doing the profession a disservice. And those who work in unusually perfect environments (I’m one of them btw), should look outside their little bubble and see what the majority of their colleagues have to put up with. I could stay silent and watch from my perfect perch, pharmacy and pharmacists run around being whipped by their non pharmacist district managers and customers demanding that they become postmen for the day. But I chose to complain, hoping others will join in, and in doing so help change the status quo. But articles like “are you a happy pharmacist ” just defy logic . I think only 2 said they were happy, but did not offer any explanation as to why their little bubble was perfect. The other pharmacist was happy because he had just walked away from the profession. A delusional article written by someone who obviously does not know the difference between tylenol and advil.
    The only way anything improves, is by others pointing out mistakes…..yes being critical and negative. The profession is in trouble. Recognize the problems or its the end.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I had this exact same discussion with the owner of my pharmacy….I told him, look…I wouldn’t be upset about things if I didn’t CARE about YOUR pharmacy and YOUR business….I think he understood a bit after that discussion…I think I actually used the words “If I didn’t give a shit….”

      However, things got pretty heated at my workplace to the point I was going to complain to my college about proprietor interference….He backed off after that, and now has almost gone “radio-silent” as we turn over our WHOLE pharmacy and OTC to the new naturopath/dietician “pharmacy director” for my company who is bringing in all kinds of weird and wonderful (and expensive) lines into otc that I have NO idea what they even are or do! Meanwhile, we no longer carry Fleet enemas, childrens cough and cold items (other than homeopathic junk), infants Tylenol, etc. etc etc etc. The list is endless and we lose customers daily from OTC when I have to send them over to Rexall to get BASIC items…
      So, even my previously successful Facebook page, Anderson Drug by Freson Bros (go check it out) is now mostly a food blog or a supplement ad. They asked all pharmacists to provide content, but nobody is actually using our content….It’s pathetic and sad.
      I would encourage you all to listen to the latest Podcast from Dr. Jordan Peterson, the one from his actual podcast network live from Vancouver, 12 lessons for Life…
      There was a question about “speaking out in your workplace when others don’t hold the same beliefs”.. In other words, do you speak up or shut up….His answer was very timely for most of us pharmacists.
      If you want to jump right to the question, it’s at about the 1.18 or 1.22 minute mark (that’s one hour, 18 minutes.)
      I would really encourage Bill to listen to that part as Dr. Petereson basically lays down the pros and cons of speaking your “truth” or not, and what that may look like. He even says you will be surprised how many co-workers will come out of the woodwork and say to you “hey, I actually agree with you but I am afraid to speak up lest I lose my job!”…..
      As we discuss, I am actually making up an anonymous letter to send to our RXA board to just discuss some of the “challenges” we have had as a group of licensees with non-pharmacist owners or as this new “director of pharmacy” is not even a pharmacist..Every email I get now ends with “we would never ask any pharmacist or meat manager to do anything illegal or unethical…” lol
      I also, as Fayaz, have things pretty good now that the owners have stepped off a bit, but there are still so many glaring errors and things being asked of our staff that are questionable, so I will submit my “concerns” to RXA to let them mull over how they may assist non-pharmacists owners to maximize their business without interfering with the business at hand.
      .

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      • I’m glad they worked things out with you. I’m lucky my bosses are great. However with the current oversupply of pharmacists, I doubt I would have the courage to stand up for myself. The prospect of going to the food bank instead of sobeys would prevent me from speaking out. A long time ago, while I was working in the UK , and there was a severe shortage, I told my employer to change or stick it where the sun dont shine! I won then. Doubt I would do that now. Which is why we need to collectively g
        Come together to change the status quo. OPA must change or go. We have the power there. After all it’s our money which keeps them afloat. Well yours if you still subscribe. I don’t!

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  3. Saw a curious post about starting a Union…I think it was an Ontario group…
    Community Pharmacists network??
    If I was younger I would join that fight, but I tried to put this bug in our ears 25 years ago, and look at where we are now…No collective voice, no collective bargaining, wages and benefits in the toilet.
    I just posted where a Costco NON pharmacist staff can START at $25 per hour?
    OMG why would you waste 7 years (?) getting a PHarmD when you can cash people out starting at $25….?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Here’s something equally disturbing. Today, I began to read my current edition of CPJ (Vol 152, No 3, May/June 2019). The opening Editorial on page 143 is titled: “Regulation and innovation in practice — Not a “drug interaction”?

    What a nightmare, by Ross Tsuyuki and Robert Nakagawa (who happens to be the BC Registrar). There are more and more articles in this journal being penned by less and less diversity…hmmm…

    Some extracts, however: “…a recent paper published in CPJ…reviewed disciplinary actions by Canadian College of Pharmacy and found that it was exceedingly rare for disciplinary action to be taken for clinical errors. And there were NO instances of disciplinary actions for innovations in practice. It is clear that pharmacy regulators are not standing in the way of innovations in practice.”

    COMMENT: First of all, just because there are/were no DISCIPLINE actions doesn’t mean there weren’t COMPLAINTS. A complaint has to be referred to discipline for it to become such a statistic; please paint the full picture. Given that the OCP’s Complaints committee last year had 541 complaints opened (compared with 341 the year before) and only 11% were referred to Discipline (per the 2018 Annual Report), and NONE of these had to do with “innovations” as coined by the authors from BC in part, it’s kind of meaningless to spin the perspective that the colleges aren’t “standing in the way.” Make those stats work the way you want them to…

    Another; “If the Colleges are not holding us back, then who is? Is it government? Certainly, when a new service requires a change in legislation, then, yes, that is a barrier. But not an insurmountable one.”

    COMMENT: Well, in Ontario, pharmacist advocated the College to get the legislation changed and it took them over 10 years to do so…and then, only when the government needed “something done for them” did they finally get around to it. So this is also slanted as a statement, because in most cases the College DOES, in fact, set the Practice Standards and pharmacists must adhere to them or risk administrative action. If those Standards don’t get modified to address current practice issues (such as ownership requirements that puts the public at risk, impact on waiving of co-pays and the chain reaction that results in pharmacist moral injury and thus potential patient risk), they’re really not holding the public interest foremost (whatever is said over and over).

    The column goes on to address MedsCheck reviews and the shortcomings, in stating we’re not doing what we could. Well, that’s now dated to put into print since the MOHLTC has kaiboshed the guts of that initiative. Water under the bridge now; don’t use it as an example.

    And finally, it reads: “…if we took the time to explain to our patients what we are doing for them (Ed: haven’t we been doing that since Adam & Eve, it seems?); if we didn’t just wait around for someone else to change things,…” Ouch. Sounds like the OPA/CPhA/NCPA minions trying to get some credibility back via this journal. Sounds like. But not acknowledging that those that TRY to do so, get run under or their comments get edited out of columns discussing the topic, almost like half-truths in politics.

    And the final statement made in the column: “It certainly isn’t the Colleges that are standing in the way.”

    I, for one, disagree. If the writers want to talk about waiting for someone else to change things, it applies there as well. But then, look who runs the college(s)…

    Bazinga.

    Article available at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1715163519839040

    Like

    • Excellent points! I read a few articles in that CPJ journal, also saw it’s the same people contributing, some of the “research” was really very poor IMO, so I threw the whole thing out…what a waste of time, I hope there is no grant money going to this…..

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  5. The news that a DM was reprimanded for a mistake done by someone else just goes to show how bad our situation is. OCP is bent on destroying the very profession they have been mandated to protect . How resilient can we remain?
    Should we lock up the parents of criminals, because they “failed ” to put in place a system to bring up their offspring to become good citizens? OPA where are you? Concentrate on protecting the professional who keeps you afloat instead of giving subsidized gym memberships and making more useless work for us like flu vaccinations.

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