Saturday, 18 April 2009

Promotion or demotion? You decide (and get offended)!

Ok. So let's say you're reading the job section at the back of the Pharmaceutical Journal (or AJP in Australia) and you come across this hypothetical ad:

Wanted: "Pharmacy Technician"
  • Stand around in dispensary
  • Draw cartoons on random things (labels, drug company post-its, tongue depressors etc)
  • Eat chocolates and sweets
  • Take leisurely walks to outpatient pharmacy or stores whilst admiring the artwork along the corridor
  • Chat about random things with others
  • Stare out the window
  • Occassionally stick a label on a box
  • Note: Ability to take extended tea and lunch breaks a plus.

There is nothing hypothetical about this job, my friends. This was my job - the job (I use the term "job" loosely as this would imply some sort of work involved) which I had been undertaking for the last three weeks. That is until this morning when the cruel hand of fate grasped my seemingly pleasant life in her claw-like fingers and thrust it into the depths of a cold, dark misery. This misery is also known as the "checking bench".

Gone are the care-free days of random doodles and day dreaming. Now I am on a strict schedule of checking that medications have been labelled and dispensed correctly: that drugs, doses and patient names are correct and expiration dates have not been past. I am now responsible and liable for other people's work. More importantly, I am responsible for the health of a patient - and I don't even get paid more for it.

I have forgotten so much clinical pharmacy. The AMH I once cherished as my bible of drug knowledge now lays somewhere on a dusty shelf 16854.54 kilometres away. The drug information I committed to memory is now but a distant haze. When someone told me during pre-registration that "this is the smartest you're ever going to be" they weren't lying. As the months of being a "non-practicing pharmacist" increased, my pharmaceutical intelligence decreased accordingly. I currently have the knowledge of somewhere between a first year pharmacy student and a disgruntled technician.
Hence checking the clinical safety of dispensed medicines is not exactly my forte at the moment. When I queried a dose of clopidogrel today I just got a quizzical look. I'm also not up-to-date with "new" drugs, policies or treatment plans. I'm out of the loop.

I have been nothing but a dispensing monkey for the last six months.

But today wasn't too bad. In fact, it felt refreshing doing work for a change. Not only did I feel like I was actually earning my wage, but I had now demanded a new kind of respect. No longer was I a lowly dispensing technician - I was now a well-respected checker! My ex-fellow dispensers looked longingly at me as I checked items. They smiled as I passed them in the dispensary and asked how I was going. One of them rushed to ask me out for lunch. I was the chosen one. But the thrill of this new found idolisation by my co-workers was shortlived for I had to face the harsh reality of my situation.

I spent the day sandwiched between a large Nigerian woman and an old, crippled white lady. I don't like to judge people, but heck I will anyway. Now, dedicated followers of my blog will know that I've run into problems with Nigerians (Of course I'm not being racist...actually heck I'm allowed to be - I'm Asian sheesh), so I was slightly wary. But she seemed nice - helpful and informative and pleasant. Eeriely pleasant. My suspicions were confirmed in the tearoom when I walked in on her asking one of the other pharmacists if they were a "believer". Uh oh. I've got nothing against religion, I just hate it when people start judging or disrespecting you based on your relgion or lack thereof. And bashing you with a copy of the Bible, Qu'ran, Torah or Harry Potter. Anyway, then she started saying stuff about how we are all children of God and how this certain lady in the newspaper had been "weak" and succumbed to whatever power and geez...I dunno. I kinda just sat there clutching my coffee mug in a stunned silence.
And the old, white cripple is lovely. But too lovely. Like her voice is so saccharine it'll give you type 2 Diabetes if you hung around her too long. And she uses crutches and has a self-made "crutch stand" constructed from rubber bands and sticky tape at one of the benches by the computer - it's kinda sad and funny at the same time. She also carries a faded back pillow around with her.

So anyway, I'm caught between the two of them. Their conversation consists of a series of lame jokes and comments - mainly to do with the head scarves which the Nigerian lady wears. At first I thought it was because she had developed cancer but it was actually just because she was cold.

Omg...I'm so going to hell (if there is one) for this post. I feel like I'm just offending people. Gah! Basically there's two things I want readers to take home from this post:
  1. I am now a checker and have to do proper work
  2. I am not really a racist, sexist, blasphemous, sacrilegeous, anti-disability, discriminatory person. I'm just kind of tired - today was my first day of real work in a long time.

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