May 09, 2015

The Great Unprofessional Career Fair: Haley the Pharmacy Technician


To me, there's just something so mystifying about working mothers. I mean, there are humans... and then there are superhumans.

Haley, blogger/mother/drug distributor, is the latter.

Not only is she knee-deep in raising an (adorable) little girl, she's also invested in a pretty awesome career as a pharmacy technician. Don't know what a pharmacy tech does? Well, luckily for you, I've got the superhuman here herself to explain.

 Haley: Typically, I deal with a lot of cranky old farts day by day. However, it is nice to have 'adopted grandparents' as customers. I live in a retirement community (I'm talking the Florida of Canada people) and the cotton top population dominates. The job description for a registered pharmacy technician is basically the same as a pharmacy assistant, which is what I am currently except a RPT has a license and is accountable for his/her actions. Checking prescriptions,being able to take verbals from doctors and demonstrating how to use medical devices are new responsibilities of an RPT. As an assistant, I do a lot. I process prescriptions and of course, physically 'fill' them. I am in charge of purchasing and receiving front store and drug inventory, as well as processing returns and recalls.. I answer the phones and take orders to refill prescriptions, fax doctors for prescription renewals and I also listen to way too many people talk about their poop. You know, you would really, really be surprised what people will talk about. Narcissistic world we live in. I have everything to do with opening and closing the store. I process monthly spreadsheets, invoice statements and I take care of the weekly bank deposit. I do the special ordering as well as scheduling any extra activities that take place in the pharmacy (foot care, hearing tests, vaccines, etc.) I take care of expired medication and over the counter products as well as the regular prescription and narcotic filing. I am the person that has to find out why Mrs. X's thyroid medication is only being covered 70% instead of 80% like last year. Billing.. oh, that one is a real treat to deal with. It would be difficult to walk a person through my day to day because it changes. I am the happy, smiling face you would see behind the counter that you would feel compelled to discuss your poop with.

 H: When I decided to take a 'step up' as far as careers go, I was working at a coffee shop. I went from being the baker, the breakfast cook, barista and sandwich maker throughout one day and I wanted something more. I remembered seeing young girls my age coming in to order a latte and then they would sit down with their text books and study. I yearned to have something to aspire to be. I got lucky and was hired completely unqualified as a pharmacy assistant at a pharmacy. The man I worked for turned out to be your typical sexist, chauvinistic, control freak, nightmare boss and I eventually had to quit. One of my regulars from the coffee shop was the manager of a pharmacy down the street. He mentioned, after hearing that I was working for "the man with a bad reputation" that if I ever needed anything, to go see him. So I did and that's how I got into the pharmacy where I work today. Once I returned from maternity leave, I caught wind that a few girls that worked in both of our stores were getting registered and it inspired me to do it too. I thought, if they can do it, I certainly can too! The bridging program that I am currently taking is only being offered in my province until December 2015. This is my last chance to become registered without having to sit in a classroom for a number of years. I am under a tight time crunch and it has proven to be very, very challenging.


H:  I'm not even where I want to be yet and it has been the most challenging thing I've done in my entire life. I mentioned that there is a time crunch to get my certification. Well, in September I started by taking two courses in one semester. Pharmacology alone is a full time course, not to mention I was working full time and studying in the evenings from 8 to 10 with a husband and two year old daughter nearby. I was delighted when I found out that I passed those two courses. Then in January I doubled up two more courses and somehow, some way passed those as well. The Product Preparation course was a mixture of terms and aseptic techniques and math, math and more math. Math has never been a strength for me and it was a big part of why I was holding back in my field. I just took my Evaluating Exam in Victoria two weekends ago and feel like I did okay. I find out at the end of May how I did. Then in early June I take a Jurisprudence Exam which has everything to do with schedules, legislation, acts and bills, etc. IF I pass all of those, I have one final two day exam in Vancouver (a ferry ride away) in September. The first day is a multiple choice exam and the second day is a demonstrative exam. There are about 12 stations and I will have six minutes at each station. Actors are hired to be 'patients' that have issues and need help and the judges sit back with their clip boards and evaluate. I hear it's the most intense, terrifying process and I am NOT looking forward to it. So I assume, that that will be the most challenging of the entire process.

H: I have a good job. I work Monday to Friday 9 until 5. I have benefits and I get to have a normal life, where my weekends are the same as my husband's. We get two days off to be a family and I have my job to thank for that. I like the people I work with. Our pharmacy is small so there is only three of us. We don't have any drama, we all get along really well and when it's not super busy, we get to laugh and joke around. I enjoy helping the patients that really appreciate and need our help. It makes me feel good about what we do.

H:   The people. I know, it's harsh but the people are such pains in the butts a lot of the time. I have a blog post from right before I went back to work from maternity leave that pretty much sums up my not so great customers (you can read it here: A Typical Day).

H: Before going through the grueling registration process I would seriously ask yourself if this is something you really want to do. I am glad I didn't know how hard it was going to be because I bet if I did, I never would have tried. I'm glad I'm doing it now, but if my heart wasn't in it, it really, really wouldn't be worth all of my extra effort and time.

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If you have any questions for Haley, leave her a comment. Or even better, go ask her herself at her blog!

And of course, if you want to be featured in the The Great Unprofessional Career Fair, read what it's all about here and let me know!