Look. I know not everyone works in a pharmacy, so allow me to explain how it works.
The techs you see who are NOT currently ringing on a cash register are NOT "doing nothing." They are answering the phone. They are translating SIG codes. They are billing insurance. They are transferring medications. They are filling prescriptions. They are NEVER not busy.
DO NOT come in and ask for a flu shot unless you have an hour or so to kill. The procedure takes fifteen minutes, and if we get a rush, it may take longer. When you ask for a flu shot, this is what happens:
- We will type it up like any other scrip.
- We will bill your insurance.
- We will need time to enter override codes if your insurance rejects the claim.
- If your insurance does not cover it, we will have to bill a sub-party, which means typing up a whole new profile.
- We will prepare a small amount of paperwork for you to fill out. Because yes, we DO need to know if you are sick/pregnant/have any latex allergies, etc.
- The Pharmacist is the only staff member who can give you your injection. Oftentimes, the Pharmacist on duty is the ONLY Pharmacist present, and cannot simply drop everything and wait on you. Your flu shot has been dropped into a queue which quite often is fifteen pages long, with every page holding 15 unfilled scrips. If one person or one hundred people have come in before you and requested flu shots or refills, YOU HAVE TO WAIT YOUR TURN JUST LIKE THEY DO. We will TRY and get your shot done within fifteen minutes, but it is NOT always possible.
- The Pharmacist must wash their hands and don gloves. The gloves are for THEIR protection, NOT yours.
- The Pharmacist must draw up the shot into a sterile syringe in a precise dose.
- The Pharmacist will collect your paperwork, review your answers, then bring you your shot.
Just because you don't see a crowd of people standing around you does NOT mean that we are not busy. Our computers are hooked up to every doctor's office and hospital in the tri-state area. You know how you sit in the doctor's office, and they type up prescriptions for you while you sit there? Yeah, they're sending them to us. They drop in our queue, we translate them, fill them, check them and bag them. We have thousands of patients.
It doesn't matter if your prescription is pre-packaged. I CANNOT just hand it to you. REGARDLESS of what the medication is or how it is packaged, we MUST check it, make sure it is not expired, count it/measure it, scan it out of our inventory, re-check it, hand it over to the Pharmacist who will perform a third and final check, and then finally bag it for sale.
Please DO NOT bring your heaping cart of groceries to the pharmacy counter. We don't mind checking out a few things with your meds, but it is rude as fuck to keep everyone waiting while you argue over the sales prices of bread and milk and fuss over expired coupons. Pharmacy staff don't usually know about the front of store sales and offers, just as front of store employees don't know the difference between Viagra and Vicodin. The people in line behind you are often in pain and shouldn't have to be kept waiting while I ring up frozen pizzas, ice cream and makeup.
PLEASE, for the love of God, know your own medications. I cannot know them for you. When you call me and ask me to refill your white pills, I have no idea what the fuck you are talking about. YOU SHOULD KNOW what you are taking, why you are taking it and who prescribed it for you. If you cannot keep track of your medications, you should have someone helping you with it. If you take the wrong medication, you CAN DIE.
The Pharmacist is the only staff member who is authorized to dispense narcotics. These include Oxycodone, Oxycontin, Hydrocodone, Amphetamine Salts, Fentanyl patches, Opium, etc. The Pharmacist must count all narcotics three times before calling it good, putting it in a bottle and turning it over to us to sell to you. There are state regulations regarding the dispensation of these medications and we CANNOT override them. You cannot have your narcotics a day early "just this once." It is AGAINST THE LAW, and we can be fined, fired and lose our licenses forever. We are NOT going to sacrifice our jobs for your convenience.
Just because your insurance coverage is still supplied by the same provider doesn't mean that it "hasn't changed." They WILL send you a new card every time something changes. If you don't have it yet, you CAN get the required information by calling that aforementioned customer service number and asking them for the updated RX Bin#, RX Group # and ID #, all of which they will give you. We can also call them for you and get it for you, but keep in mind that whole "waiting your turn" bit.
PLEASE be nice to us. Most of us became techs and Pharmacists because we want to help you. I know I genuinely do. I know what it is to be sick and eager to be home after 12 hours in an ER and standing in line at the pharmacy is about the last thing you want to do. But you're not the only sick person in the world. PLEASE be patient, we ARE TRYING to get you what you want ASAP. I will go out of my way to get you everything and anything you need at the lowest price I can manage if you just give me time and treat me like a human being. I've held the hands of grandmothers recently widowed taking antidepressants for the first time, and found discounts for frightened cancer patients picking up painkillers and anti-nausea meds. I love my patients. I cry when they pass away and hug them when they come out of surgery. I know their names and their kids names and their pets names. They've brought me cookies and sent me postcards and become my family. I love them. I will always try to help them with their health concerns and conditions. But I will admit that there are one or two who will cause me no tears when they shed their mortal coils, people who have insulted me, called me names, stamped their feet, thrown tantrums, screamed at the top of their lungs, and usually over something small and fixable.
The very fact that I feel nothing for these people makes me sad, because I wonder who will mourn them when they succumb to their ills.
There's so much more I could bring up, but I just finished a ten hour shift and I'm exhausted. I must take my own pills and be off to bed. Just remember that the job of a pharmacy tech is a stressful, complicated and exhausting one, and often thankless. We don't want sympathy or special treatment, we just want your cooperation and mutual respect.