What I miss most, and least about working in a hospital

I left pharmacy practice in November of 2010, so I’ve been out of the hospital for almost a year now. Typically I don’t give it a second thought, but recently I’ve found myself in several inpatient pharmacies face to face with pharmacists and technicians. Pharmacists are always willing to engage in talk about pharmacy practice, clinical situations and how things are going. The technicians are always up for a little conversation about operations, equipment, medication preparation, and so on. I find it quite enjoyable. While I’m not pining for the good old days, I do tend to get a little nostalgic on occasion.

I find that I miss the day to day activities in a pharmacy the most. I was a practicing pharmacist for more than a decade and without question I’m quite comfortable standing in an inpatient pharmacy. I feel like I could pick up a pen and calculator and go to work. Sure I’d have to learn a few things specific to a particular hospital, but the practice of pharmacy itself, i.e. caring for patients, talking with physicians and nurses, engaging in clinical speculation, digging up drug information, etc remains relatively constant. It’s almost enough to make me forget that I was ready for a change. Almost.

What I don’t miss is the healthcare red tape. The constant regulatory crap that takes up as much of a pharmacist’s time as practicing pharmacy does. The incessant documentation that helps no one and generates enough paperwork to fill a warehouse. The ticky-tack regulatory garbage that makes you want to scream because you know it was created by someone that knows absolutely nothing about healthcare and makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. The constant testing to ensure that you’re “competent” to do your job. The infuriatingly slow pace at which pharmacy practice adopts to change and embraces new ideas. The never ending bad treatment from physicians. The constant bickering between pharmacists and nurses that makes no sense. And so on ad infinitum.

Overall I think the negative outweighs the positive. Will I ever go back to work as a real pharmacist? Only time will tell, but at the moment I don’t see it in my future. Pharmacy has changed too much and I’m having too much fun doing what I’m doing. This is one time when the grass is definitely not greener on the other side.

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