Friday, March 2, 2012

Failure To Communicate

I've read a lot of blogs, Twitter posts, and other forums over the years where pharmacists discuss working conditions, and I've come away with the feeling that most pharmacists haven't encountered the same type of outrageous supervisor behaviors that I've experienced in my career. I find it hard to believe that these type of things only happen to me. But, I'll share them anyway.

I remember one time about ten years ago while practicing community pharmacy in a very rural area, when a drug rep came to the pharmacy unannounced to "tell" me that I'd better be dispensing the Brand drug that she represented, regardless of whether the doctor wrote that substitution was permissible and when the patient wanted generic.

This rep was angry and caught me off guard, so I just stood there and looked at her while collecting my thoughts. She then gave me a contemptuous look, threw her business card on the counter and said her company had an agreement with my employer that they would always dispense her Brand dug, and that I'd better be doing just that. Then she demanded that I give her the records of all patients who were prescribed her company's drug, but were substituted with the generic version.

I kid you not! Like they say, truth is often stranger than fiction.

Of course, I told her to take a hike, that I wasn't going to give her any patient records, or explain myself to her. Personally, I wasn't aware of any company policy about this, nor was I sure I would comply with it if there was one. Thereupon, the woman got even angrier and said, in a threatening tone, that she was going to talk to my supervisor about it, and stormed out.

Yes, if I remember correctly, it could have been a Monday.

Now I don't know about you, but over the course of my career I've only had just a few supervisors who knew how to effectively communicate with their staff. Like I've said before, it seems to me that most supervisors are trying to escape working the front lines, have little or no management training, and will do anything to avoid being a staff pharmacist again.

It would seem to me that whenever there's some sort of disagreement in the workplace, the most appropriate response from a supervisor would be to investigate both sides of the story in a cool, calm, and objective manner. But, for the life of me, most of the supervisors I've had usually have done just the opposite, choosing to believe what was said about me without investigating or asking my side of the story first. I can't ever remember a time when a supervisor said to me calmly - "Hey CP, I've just received a [insert complaint here] and wanted to hear what you have to say about it."

Pretty simple, huh?

Here I am trying to provide the best patient care I can, to get along with everyone, to be successful, and to make both my supervisors and my employer look good. You would think that my efforts would be rewarded with a little professional courtesy in return, but no. My supervisor in this instance came in and reemed me a new one in front of my techs without ever once asking me what happened.

The conversation went all downhill from there, and with it somehow being my fault.

Truthfully, I'm very easy to get along with and would prefer to get along with everyone else. But once you cross the line by abusing me, especially without provocation, there's no going back. And it's all because of a failure to communicate appropriately. Needless to say, my rose-colored glasses lost more of their tint after this incident and I gave a two-week notice to move on to my next adventure.


  1. BTW, I was the PIC and my immediate supervisor in this instance was a pharmacist, but hadn't worked as a pharmacist for many years before accepting his new role as a district pharmacy supervisor.

    I also didn't quit because of just this one incident. There were other previous incidents where my supervisor's position was to side with "store" management instead of supporting me.

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