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Making a Difference

Harold E. Cohen, RPh
Editor-in-Chief



12/17/2009

US Pharm. 2009;34(12):4.

Earlier this year, I announced the launch of a new professional social network exclusively geared to the pharmacy community. Since its debut, many thousands of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacy students have shared their professional and personal experiences. It has given pharmacy professionals an outlet not only to express their feelings but also to share professional information and link up with colleagues with like interests. For me, one of the best things about PharmQD (www.pharmqd.com) is the stories and blogs. A couple of months ago, I asked site visitors to post stories and blogs relating how they made a difference in their patients’ lives. Many of the postings were very heartwarming and reinforced why we went into pharmacy in the first place. As we finish out another year and enjoy the holiday season with family, friends, and colleagues, I thought I would briefly share some of these stories with you.

A pharmacist from New York told of her gut-wrenching experience of seeing the store she owned burn to the ground. But, as traumatic as that was, she expressed thanks to competitors, manufacturers, wholesalers, and customers who came to her aid while she was putting the pieces of her life back together. She wrote, “It was then that I realized I was participating in a profession that really did care about one another.” Then there was the pharmacist who, like many pharmacists, gave a talk at a local hospital on Parkinson’s disease. “It really makes you appreciate your health when you see someone literally trapped in their body,” he wrote. “While their mind is active, their body is holding them hostage.” A few weeks later, the pharmacist received a call from a gentleman who had attended the talk, who told him that the information he provided was personally very helpful. “That made me feel good,” the pharmacist said. “So often we go through our days not realizing how much people appreciate what we do. We have to remind ourselves and others of this more often.”

Another pharmacist tells a story to which any retailer can easily relate. A patient came into the pharmacy to fill a prescription for a thyroid product in a strength that was on back order. The patient was ready to go on vacation and was in a bit of a panic, so the pharmacist secured approval from the doctor to “adjust” her dosage with the strengths in stock. “The patient was very pleased,” said the pharmacist. “It is experiences like these that make the downright nasty patients a lot easier to deal with.” One pharmacist tells of his experience of refusing to fill a prescription for a patient who was an obvious addict. To his amazement, 6 months later that patient came back to the store to basically say thank you for not filling the prescription. She told the pharmacist that she now attends Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. “I just couldn’t believe that out of a potentially bad situation, something so good happened,” commented the pharmacist.

And finally, there is the story about a particularly difficult patient who regularly came into the pharmacy. When he became too weak to make the trip, the pharmacist started to personally deliver prescriptions to the man’s home after work. Each time he went to the client’s apartment, the pharmacist would chat with him. Eventually, the embittered man started to open up, and he told the pharmacist that he had no family and that his wife had recently passed away. The pharmacist continued to talk with him on subsequent visits, and the patient would tell his friends that the pharmacist was his “buddy.” Sadly, the patient was found on the floor of his apartment one day, felled by a fatal heart attack. “Say what you need to say,” advises the pharmacist. “When you get the chance, take it. Don’t let significant moments pass you by. It may seem like a little thing, but it can make a big difference. Say it before it is too late.”

As we enjoy this festive holiday season and begin a new year, let me make sure I say what I need to say. And that would be “thank you” for being an important part of the U.S. Pharmacist family. Have a wonderful holiday season and, most important, a very healthy new year.

To comment on this article, contact editor@uspharmacist.com.

 

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