What I wish I could tell my boss: ‘You never defend me’

Drugs - pile of pills

You never stick up for your junior members of staff. When another healthcare worker said recently: “I don’t see the point of pharmacists on the ward”, instead of defending us, you brought the complaint to us and lectured us about how we do our jobs. This is the role that you – a senior managing pharmacist – created, and recruited us for. So why don’t you defend us?

And I don’t just hear this from colleagues. Patients routinely tell me: “Oh you wouldn’t know what that tablet is for” and speak to me like I am an uneducated, inexperienced member of staff – oblivious to the fact I have a four-year degree. While others tell me they “don’t understand my job”.

People often assume that the pharmacist is simply there to pick the tablets off the shelf, count them out and hand them over. I get asked by patients’ relatives: “Why does it take three hours just to get the medications up?” I have to defend the job that I do on a daily basis, explaining that I have to make sure the medications are safe before I simply hand them over.

I wouldn’t expect the public to know exactly what a pharmacist does, but now it seems the healthcare colleagues I work with don’t understand the concept of my job either. I am left feeling unappreciated by everyone around me. Our senior pharmacists, managers and leaders do nothing to defend our positions or highlight the importance of our roles.

I continue to do what I do without recognition. Patients are often none-the-wiser about the corrections I’ve made to their prescribed medications. On a daily basis I find myself having to tell junior doctors how they have prescribed essential medicines incorrectly: Parkinson’s medications, cancer treatments, anti-hypertensives, anti-epileptics and anti-diabetics. The prescriptions quietly get changed without the patient or other healthcare professionals knowing.

A doctor prescribes a double dose of a toxic drug – I see the prescription and instantly instruct the doctor to amend it so that the patient is not given a potentially dangerous dose. A doctor documents a plan to start phosphate supplements yet accidentally prescribes potassium supplements – I tell them to change the prescription to avoid potential heart problems. In both instances the patient is unaware. When junior doctors went on strike, we were left with consultants who didn’t know how to use electronic prescribing systems. On whom did they rely? You guessed it: us. It would be nice if, instead of agreeing with colleagues who say they don’t understand my role, you explained to them the importance of what we do.

From a distance it might seem that I am doing nothing, sitting at the corner of the ward behind a screen staring at drug charts, prescriptions and blood results. But if it was not for me checking and cleaning up the mess of inaccurate prescribing by doctors who are too busy and tired to pay attention, then patients would not be treated safely. They would be given the wrong medication in hospitals, with potentially fatal consequences, and they would go home with the wrong prescriptions.

So next time someone questions the importance of our jobs and makes a demeaning remark asking what is the point of us “sitting around on the wards all day”, it would be nice if you stood up and highlighted just how essential our jobs are. I do not expect understanding, praise or recognition from patients and the public, but I do expect appreciation and respect from the other healthcare professionals that I work with – and even more so from you.


[Source:- Gurdian]