Thursday, 1 December 2005

Sorry? What do you do?

What do you actually do?I often ask my friends this. Why? Because I want to know what they actually do behind their job title. This is the first time in my life that I understand �OFFICE JOB�, like � I am going to office� vs "i work in the hospital". I also come to understand WHY
  1. my housemate can e-mail her friends often and stay in touch
  2. she whispers on the phone when I call her
  3. she can surf the internet and print out stuff
  4. she can have tea break anytime of the day, and it�s free
  5. she can go to work anytime as long as she gets her work done
  6. she doesn�t have to pay for her company�s Christmas dinner party at some porsh hotel in london
The answer to all that is because she works in an OFFICE, not a dispensary. How different is a Dispensary from an office? What is a dispensary? Let me check the dictionary ( I am in the office you see) :
  1. An office in a hospital, school, or other institution from which medical supplies, preparations, and treatments are dispensed.
  2. A public institution that dispenses medicines or medical

Wa la, I didn�t know dispensary is an office as well? Right, let me rephrase my question, how is the office in hospital different from the other Office?

  1. Dispensary is full of drugs, ie. Medication
  2. I stand when I am working, vs sitting
  3. I have timetable for tea break and lunch break, first tea break is 1015 and second 1030, first lunch is 1230 for 45 minutes, and second 115.
  4. I can only go for my tea/lunch break only if the first has come back, and vice versa
  5. I can only do my personal e-mailing during breaks and I have to sacrifice my tea or lunch break
  6. I have to fill in a late book if I come in late ( which I never bother to do and I am always late ), ironically, but the time when I leave
  7. I am not allowed to use my mobile phone during working hours, it should be on silence
  8. I have to put int �1 every month for tea money, or 20p for each cup, if not I am not allowed to have them (unfortunately, it�s not under NHS)
  9. I have to pay our hospital�s Christmas dinner , with no sponsorship at all

So, with that as a background, let me explain what I did when I was working as a clinical pharmacist in a hospital. I checked the medication before it went out to the patients. I checked the label, whether the words and directions, names were correct, I counted the tablets to ensure the right quantity was given and I signed on the label that I have checked the medication. I called the doctor when I wasn't happy with the medication that he prescribed, and advised him on the right one. I cleaned up his errors and his careless mistakes, yet I couldn'�t tell the patient that his doctor was dodgy.

Patient: You are giving me the wrong tablets? My doctor said he has changed my tablets from the pink one to the blue one. What is wrong with you ?

Pharmacist: Sorry, the blue one does not come in 10mg, only the pink one does. (your doctor doesn�t know what he is writing, and he is killing you) I need to contact your doctor. It might take a while. Especially if he is seeing another patient at the moment. I am waiting for him to call me back. (sounded very apologetically, but it was not my fault!! )

Patient gave me an impatient look and stared at me ,#hmph I am in a hurry you know!!#

AIYA, this doctor, don�t know what he is writing, no such thing as 10mg , the blue tablet is 20mg LAR.

Pharmacist: Hello Dr, so (and-so) , I am calling to query about MR. B medication, he told me that you have changed one of his tablets from pink to blue. The pink tablet is 10mg and the blue is 20mg.

Doctor: Oh is it? (Your oh-is-it can kill people, do you know that? ) Yea, change it to 20mg then.

Sounds simple ya? Patient handed in the prescription and expected his tablets to be ready in 10 minutes. 10 minutes? For the pharmacist to screen and check the dose is correct for each medication? To locate the doctor, sometimes they are not on-site, call them, wait for them to return call, which they don�t do it immediately, to key in medication information into the computer, print the labels, dispenser to get the medication from the shelf, count them, put them into boxes, pharmacist have to check the labels is correct, patient name printed alright, count the tablets, answer the phone , got distracted, start the whole process again, then give it out to patient. All this in 10 minutes? You must be joking, I am not a superwoman you know, even if I am, my colleagues aren�t !

In a nutshell, that was what I used to do, day in day out. All this is the harvest of :

#1: completing my tough tough 3 years pharmacy degree, studying about human body and memorising the drug/medication name which doesn�t make sense at all, #2:finished my dad�s savings, then #3: another �15k for my masters in clinical pharmacy, international practice and policy, hoping to raise my profile to have more satisfaction than counting tablets in dispensary, #4: doing my second year of training in UK, repeated another 8 papers equivalent of 4th year UK degree, because I qualified in Malaysia. In the end, what do I get? Back to square one, dispensary. (yea, you are right, no one asked me to go through all the trouble, i am not complaining, i am just laying out my career direction okay? )

That was the reason why I left hospital. I haven�t mentioned on-call, 24hours contactable for 1 week.. Any tom, dick or harry (nurses) calling me when they can�t find their medication on the ward where most of the time, they just don�t know how to read drug names ! Sometimes, demanding me to go in all the way from my house to the hospital on public transport, walk, tube, then bus and then walk, just to supply tablets to the patients. Why did they run short? Because they forgot to order them when the pharmacy was open!!!


So, here I am , still a pharmacist, but working on a different level. I am working in a proper office like everyone else. 1. Flexible hours, i can come in and 9 14 and leave at 514, as long as i get my work done 2. i have to speak to my friends softly on the phone, it;s open plan office you see 3. I can drink whenever i want and wee whenever i want BUT, I miss standing and chatting. Now I type more than anything and I communicate via the computer. I stare at my computer more than I stare at human faces. And I Read, policies, information, till I see Andy Lau on my paper and I woke up ! (figure of speechlar). I visit GPs and check on their prescribing. I pay them if they reach our target. I think strategically to improve public health, encourage flu vaccination uptake in surgeries and pharmacies. I don�t see patients and I don�t have to count tablets. But I am afraid that my bums are getting bigger.. so big that I can no longer fit into my chair�.

That is what I do now that I am a prescribing advisor. Nothing to complain, pay is good and I don�t have to on-call, don�t have to be irritated by nurses. Aiya. But i still prefer to talk and see clients than to sit, read and type. Let me repeat, i am not complaining. I am grateful for my job, it's great, its different , and i am learning different things. This is where i came from and where i am now. This is for my own reference 30 years later.

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