Saturday, May 17, 2008

Reflections on a pharmacy placement

At last it was over.

For the last three weeks, I had a community pharmacy placement - in a pharmacy right in the heart of Melbourne city.

It was a very interesting placement, as I was unfortunately positioned in a pharmacy chain that is renowned in the pharmacy fraternity for viewing pharmacy students as free labour.

And it really was labour intensive. I got to run errands nobody wants to do - like moving stocks between the two stores (around 300 metres away, the record is 8 times in one day); moving boxes here and there, checking, security tagging and putting away stock (record of 16 boxes a day), post letters (200m walk), buy stuffs like stationary and food. By the end of the week, I know what the boss's  favourite coffee is (latte no sugar), where to get it and even got know the person who sells it (By the way, the coffee is really good). And I only got one 10 mins break and 30 mins lunch - at the unGodly hour of 11am and 2pm respectively (got one day even 3pm). And yes, there's even one day where I was required to work from 9am to 9pm.

The first few days I felt like the male version of Andy of The Devil Wears Prada, working for an evil boss. Only that the boss is not evil enough.

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The Devil wears Prada and Andrea "Andy" Sachs.

Luckily all the other pharmacists and pharmacy assistants are also very nice and friendly, which helps a lot when I am inevitably stuck.

Total amount of money earned during the 3 weeks: $0. Total amount of money spent: >$100. Total amount of time spent: 120 hours.

In all fairness I did really learn a lot, especially about the cafes around Little Collins and Elizabeth street - ask me if you what to know where to get the best muffins or coffee around there. =)

I know that as students we are not supposed to do all those jobs - but somehow I don't feel angry about it - in fact I felt quite happy to have something to do. It felt purposeful that I am able to do something useful. There's a form of happiness derived from the fact that I know where to find things on shelves, that the speed that I check off the stocks are getting faster each day, that I can enter long stock sheets without error. I arrived early every day and leave late most of the days. Anyway these three weeks had me questioning the competency of my brain, because what kind of people in their right mind still go on their work happily even though they knew that they are being ruthlessly exploited?

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Doesn't make sense but happy anyway.

Nonetheless I got to feel like a pseudo-pharmacist for the very first time, dispensing advice to unsuspecting customers with mock-up convincement.   I diagnosed and gave recommendations on medications for numerous customers struck down with cold and flu and cough and muscle ache, show them the best vitamins to take (and the cheapest) as well as counselling a patient on the usage of morning after pill.  I realised that being a pharmacist is actually a very powerful feeling, because you can instruct old and prominent looking people on what to do, and the best thing is, they really follow what you said.

After these two placements (the one above and another 3 weeks previously in Austin) I felt that my pharmacy knowledge is enhanced by leaps and bounds. I always believed that no matter what I experienced, all of it will be useful one day.

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