measuring up

I’m kind of sorry to be writing this, but I feel like it needs to be done. (I realise this makes it sound like the following post will be super serious or controversial in its content, but it probably isn’t really – sorry to disappoint. But, I dunno, maybe it depends on how you look at it. I reckon this will mostly just sound very rant-y. Yeah, definitely very rant-y.)

On the week-end, I diagnosed myself with a stomach ulcer. I won’t go into details of how I figured that out, but managing ulcers and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease is pretty much within a pharmacist’s scope of practice, since the relevant medications are available over the counter, so I thought this was a fair call.

Anyway, I had the week-end off work, and I couldn’t be bothered going all the way in just for discounted drugs, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to visit my local pharmacy, and talk to them about it. Sometimes I like visiting other pharmacies because I feel like it gives me an opportunity to gauge where I’m at relative to other pharmacists, and also because sometimes it’s just fun checking out the competition and seeing what could be improved and what is already better.

Yeah, maybe I like work a little bit too much. I won’t argue against that. Mostly because I’m not generally very argumentative… Mostly?

But that’s not the point.

I went down the road to my local pharmacy to tell the pharmacist that I thought I had a stomach ulcer. Of course, I already knew which medication she was probably going to give me, and I probably would’ve asked for it if she didn’t go down that predictable path, but I wanted to enjoy being the patient. It’s like when I go to the GP, I try to avoid mentioning that I’m a pharmacist. Sometimes I’ll just say I “work in a pharmacy”, and maybe they’ll assume I’m a student or assistant or something.

Also not the point.

This was about 5pm, so I assume the pharmacist on duty had been there all day, and was kind of tired, but I feel like that’s not really a good excuse (unless she’s overworked and under-supported, etc, etc, and it’s out of her control). Well, anyway, I went in with my symptom-based request, and pretty much the only questions she asked me were (1) is it painful? and (2) have you taken anything for it?

After a brief discussion, she selects the product I expected to get, tells me to take it once daily, and advises that I see a doctor if it doesn’t improve. She then passes me over to the assistant who’s with her, and he finishes the sale unenthusiastically.

I was actually really disappointed; I had high hopes for this pharmacy. I kind of want to go back just to give them a chance to redeem themselves (maybe I’d just come at a bad time?) but I also don’t want to go back in case I’m disappointed again.

Upon further reflection, I wondered if maybe I just sounded like I knew too much already, so she didn’t think it necessary to go through all the routine questions and counselling. But we all know that assumptions like that are fraught with danger. To be fair, I don’t always cover everything, myself, but I hope that I always cover the most pertinent points.

(Like, come on, at least ask me if I’ve had the symptoms before, and try to figure out what’s caused the ulcer; or ask me more about my symptoms in case I actually do need to see a doctor because I’ve got something more sinister. And what if I was on something else that interacted, or I’d had a previous adverse reaction to the medication she gave me?)

At the very least, I would have expected some degree of alacrity from the pharmacy assistant. The number of times I’ve been to “normal”, non-pharmacy shops and received better service kind of makes this situation all the more disappointing. Granted, plenty of assistants at “normal” shops are a lot more impassive and indifferent, but surely you don’t want to measure yourself against someone from the lower end of the scale…

Gee, I’m glad I got all of that out of my system. I think I’ve learnt a valuable lesson from this, but it actually feels really weird, writing this rant-y sort of post here. I’m just going to stop now. Rant over.


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