childhood dreams

During my childhood, I had many dreams and ambitions regarding my future career. Most of the time they weren’t lofty goals. Sometimes I think I must’ve been a rather impressionable kid because a lot of the things I wanted to be were inspired by people I saw on a regular basis. Of these, I distinctly remember phases of wanting to be a baker, a postie, bus driver, and librarian. Maybe the ones I encountered just always seemed cheerful or seemed as if they enjoyed their jobs…

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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.)

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high flyer

Just a quick post today because I’m feeling like this is the sort of week that’s going to quickly get away from me. Yes, it’s only Wednesday night here, but I’m already worried that I won’t fit in a post before week’s end if I don’t write one now.

And this isn’t exactly the ideal time to be writing one either. I’m supposed to be up at 5am tomorrow to catch a flight. It’ll be my first work trip. I am ridiculously excited. This one was extremely short notice (only got told this morning) but there are already more planned. Who knew being a pharmacist could involve/require this sort of travel? Well, I suppose you just have to work for the right companies.

Best thing about work trips is having all the expenses and organising sorted by someone else. It’s a great feeling. I don’t even mind that I’m going there for the sole purpose of work (there’ll be no sight-seeing or touristy stuff this time). I’m just excited to actually be able to meet the people in our partner pharmacy and corresponding location.

Ok, ok, really must sleep now … or at least try to…

nice to meet you (?)

Ever since I changed my “About” page to an “About the blog” page (because I realised that it doesn’t really tell you anything about me specifically – just about my blog), I have been toying with the idea of adding an “About the blogger” page. The only problem is that I don’t really know what I’d put on there. If you’ve seen my Gravatar profile thing, you’ll have an idea of what I mean.

Well, I suppose I could probably write quite a lot, but where would I start? The first thing I think of, of course, is by introducing my profession: I’m a pharmacist. I love my job (mostly) and the people I work with (mostly – nah, I kid, they’re really awesome), so surely this is an important thing to mention? But part of me doesn’t like this notion of “being defined by my profession”. Most people will have preconceptions about pharmacists, but, like any profession, I’m sure we’re quite varied and don’t all fit the stereotypes.

I’ve pondered this previously because if you watch TV shows – whether it be reality TV or game shows or something else that involves people who aren’t famous – everyone is introduced by their name, age and profession. Even in the newspaper, in that section where they have a street poll of randoms, they print the person’s occupation alongside their name and suburb of residence. Is their occupation meant to affect my opinion of their opinion? I suppose it does, particularly if they’re answering a poll about something political or economic or whatever that affects people’s jobs.

On a side note, just wanted to say that, despite the seemingly large number of pharmacists out there in the world, I think I’ve only ever seen one actual pharmacist on a game/reality show before. Maybe we’re just not really the type to go for that sort of stuff…

Anyway, I suppose it’s pretty obvious from browsing my blog that I’m a pharmacist, or at least that I work at a pharmacy. I mean, I write about it enough, don’t I? Sometimes I worry that I talk about work too much to other people, and maybe people would find it boring… I don’t think anyone I work with actually reads my blog, so theoretically I could just ramble on about work here, and spare people from real-life rambling conversations about Pharmacy-related stuff. This is kind of touching on another topic that I was thinking of writing about: the fact that hardly anyone I know in real-life actually reads blogs. I know people on Instagram and Twitter, and everyone (almost everyone) has Facebook, but no one that I know in real-life still regularly maintains a blog, or regularly reads blogs (well, not that I know of, anyway).

I feel like this is becoming a very tangent-y sort of post…

I was also going to say that age – or even just an age range – would be something people might put on an “About the blogger/writer” page, but then I also suppose it’s not that hard to work out that I’m in my 20s, considering I graduated high school less than ten years ago… Although, I guess if all of this stuff was on an “About” page, it’d save visitors the effort of investigating and trying to piece the puzzle together themselves. But then where’s the fun?

Well, I suppose I don’t want people to have some sort of bias for/against what I write because I’m a pharmacist, or because I’m in my 20s. I suppose I also want to preserve some notion of anonymity, so I do not want to disclose my exact age or my location (pretty sure I’ve mentioned Brisbane in enough posts for it to be kind of obvious, though…)

Imagine if the TV world defined everyone by their hobbies or their favourite songs or their pets. What if, when some guy goes on a reality TV show, instead of giving him a little caption that reads “John, 31, journalist”, it reads “John, plays guitar, owns two cats”? He could be all of these things, but the two different captions portray him differently.

A colleague of mine is from Brazil, and he pointed out once that in Australia when you meet someone new, you ask each other about what you do for work. However, in Brazil, they’d ask each other about what they do for fun. I’m sure people work hard in Brazil as well, but, gee, they seem to have their priorities right on this one.

trust me…

There’s a state election coming up this week-end, so I’ve been seeing a lot of campaign ads on TV, and a lot of campaign people on the streets. I’ve encountered these people mostly at the train station where I get off (or “de-train”, as the train announcer likes to say) for work, which doesn’t really make sense to me because a lot of people who get off there (myself included) probably aren’t in that electorate anyway – we just go there to work. Also, since we’re all going to work, we definitely do not have time to be standing around talking to these people about politics.

Anyway, the other day, as I was leaving the train station, on my way to work, I saw ahead of me, just beyond the exit, two people handing out fliers for a certain political party. I didn’t look long enough at the poster beside them to determine which party they were from, nor to figure out if one of them was the person on the poster, and hence an actual candidate (and not some random handing out fliers). Didn’t matter, anyway. All of the people exiting ahead of me either declined the proffered fliers or outright ignored them. I didn’t notice anyone smiling back or somehow acknowledging that these people were people (granted, I wasn’t really paying attention). I did, however, notice one man accepting a flier, but, judging by the disinterested look on his face, I’m not sure if he actually wanted it or knew what he was taking; or if he was still in an early-morning haze and would’ve taken anything that any random stranger gave to him.

I would not have thought all of this to be interesting enough to blog about as it is, but something else made me think twice about that morning. (Yes, believe it or not, I actually haven’t gotten to the point of this post yet!)

The other day, I read something (ok, it was just the headline – no time for the rest of the words…) about how pharmacists in the UK are trusted less than pharmacists in Australia, relative to other professions in the respective nations. (Not sure if that makes sense… Basically, pharmacists in Australia are usually ranked pretty high up in “who do you trust?” surveys, but UK pharmacists don’t rank so well. Again, I got this from a headline and, at most, the first sentence, so even I only have the basic jist of it.)

Having studied Pharmacy, and then worked as a Pharmacist for several years now, I’ve noticed that our professional/representative bodies like to put a lot of weight on these surveys. I think recently we’ve slipped down the list a bit (but still top ten?) and that was a really big deal. Pharmacists on the other side of the planet not being trusted is a big deal too, apparently. It makes sense, though – of course we want people to be able to trust us. But that’s not the issue.

The question I was pondering that morning was whether or not politicians experience this same anguish about people – the very people that they’re meant to be serving – not trusting them. (On a side note, do politicians have professional associations or something that … I don’t know … represent them or disseminate news or something?)

It’s no secret that people don’t trust politicians in general (and much less if the two main parties are constantly pointing out all of the lies told by the other party), so surely politicians know it; surely people who want to be politicians know it. Does it bother them? Do they make it a goal to improve their standing, and find ways to make people trust them? Are there any democratic countries where people actually trust their politicians? Is it just the natural order of things that politicians cannot be trusted? So many questions…

OCP going OTC (?)

I think it’s been a while since my last pharmacy-related post about something topical (and, no, not “topical” as in applied to the skin, but “topical” in the usual sense of the word). Can’t be entirely sure that I’ve ever written one, actually… Well, it doesn’t matter; I’m going to write one today. In this technological age, I’m probably a bit late pitching in my two cents’ now, but I’m busy, ok?

Over the week-end, I watched part of this talk show-type thing, and they were discussing a proposal received by the TGA to make the oral contraceptive pill (OCP) available in Australia without a prescription. For those of you unfamiliar with the Australian health system, the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) is the organisation that determines what medicines are allowed in Australia and how they can be accessed (e.g. from a pharmacy with/without a prescription). It’s basically our equivalent of America’s FDA. Also, you can currently only access the OCP with a script, which, depending on how many repeats you are given, may allow you to have up to a year’s supply before seeing your doctor again.

There doesn’t seem to be an awful lot of information available publicly about the details of the proposal, except that pharmacists will need to get patients to complete a “minor questionnaire” and also measure their blood pressure before supplying the OCP. This is because there are some potential risks for certain people.

From what I gather, there’s a lot of opposition from doctors to this move. That’s kind of a given, though, since any move to give pharmacists more responsibility or an expanded role in healthcare is usually not taken well by doctors. And, ok, fair enough – doctors go through a lot of training to be able to do what they do. I would never suggest that my pharmacist training is enough to enable me to take on the roles of a GP. However, with the right training, I do believe that managing the supply of the OCP is something that pharmacists can greatly assist GPs with. Wouldn’t it be good to clear waiting rooms of people who are just there to get another OCP script, and allow GPs to focus on patients who need their attention?

Yes, I know there are benefits of having OCP patients visit their GPs on a regular basis, and some women who take the OCP need GP attention too. That’s precisely why I’m not advocating a “down-scheduling”, but rather something along the lines of increasing the expiry of OCP scripts. If, for example, a script written for an OCP was valid for three years, instead of the current one year, it would still be up to the patient’s prescriber to decide whether they want to give them two repeats or eight repeats (or however many repeats they judge to be appropriate for that particular patient).

If the TGA wants to proceed with down-scheduling, I reckon there will need to be more than just a “minor questionnaire” in place to prevent inappropriate supply, and to also ensure timely referrals. Yes, some guidelines or mandatory training would be great, but it shouldn’t stop there. Perhaps there should be some sort of an agreement between the patient and their pharmacy – an official document that helps ensure that the patient has received the appropriate counselling, and whereby the patient agrees to return to their doctor for regular reviews (time frame set by the GP? Maybe the GP should get in on this? There is the danger of making this more trouble than it’s worth… This is why I reckon the increased expiry and repeats thing could work better.)

Additionally, pharmacies will definitely need to provide private consultation rooms for this. Ideally this would be a separate room, and not just a table and a couple of chairs with a bunch of screens around them. Of course, I guess there is also the consideration of whether pharmacies will find it worthwhile to send a pharmacist out of the dispensary for 5-10 minutes for what could be just one sale (or just a referral and no sale). Pharmacies might end up asking for government reimbursements for these services.

I feel like the more I write about this, the more issues and problems I think of in relation to this proposal. I have hopes that this could be a positive step for the profession, but it needs to be done right. I remember a friend once told me about how, when she goes overseas, she can just walk into a pharmacy and buy any random OCP she wants – no questions, no forms, no history checks. The very thought of it still stuns me. Just have to remember that although we have rules and regulations in place for a reason, there may be equally valid reasons for these to be changed.