Lying on Your CV

I have a cousin who is a pharmacist, currently looking for a new position in Europe. Looks like the pharmacy job market isn’t great in other parts of the world, but I digress. She messaged me about some advice that was given to her by an acquaintance. She was told to put on her CV that she had experience in pharma in UK, even though she hadn’t. Apparently, it is the norm to do this in other industries.

My cousin felt uncomfortable doing this, as in pharmacy there is a code of ethics that we all feel like we should follow (well, most of us feel like we should follow the code of ethics). I told her that if she felt uncomfortable doing this, there is a good reason. Also, if the companies go back and verify her employment and find out that she lied, it will look worse on her. She agreed. She decided not to put experience on her CV that she didn’t have, and decided to reword her CV to get better traction on job opportunities in Europe.

That got me thinking, though. Is that what job seekers are resorting to nowadays? Are people lying on their CV, just to noticed by companies? I don’t know how the European market, and if they even check your work history, but here in the US, the companies do call and verify that what is stated on the CV is true.

I hope people will share their experiences, if they have lied on their CV and what consequences came of it; or if companies are not checking up as much I thought they did.

Pharmacy School After Depression

I recently got asked how I was motivated to finish pharmacy school after leaving because of my depression. I actually failed a couple classes, and the school decided that maybe I wasn’t the best fit there. I had left feeling so helpless, and definitely overwhelmed.

It took about 2 years to finally “beat” my depression, and no longer feel like a failure. I had met a lawyer through my NAMI (National Association of Mental Illness) support group, and he really fought hard for me to get back in. I had MANY stipulations added, which no other student had to go through. But, in the end, I got my Doctorate of Pharmacy, and Masters of Business Administration, and was able to give a mental F*** Y** to the pharmacy school administration that fought hard to keep me out.

So, what motivated me to finish school? I honestly do not remember. Part of the reason was my parents and not wanting to disappoint them anymore. They had already invested so much in me, and my education. Part of the reason is because since so many people spent a lot of time and energy helping me get through my depression and get back in, I might as well not waste their efforts by NOT finishing. Part of the reason is to prove to the pharmacy school that I CAN do this; that I AM a good fit at that school, that I CAN and WILL finish school. I guess there is really no ONE reason why I finished school after my depression.

However, the more I think about it, the more I keep asking myself WHY I went back in the first place. I didn’t have to go back to the environment that considered me a loser and failure. I could have chosen a different path, a different career, a different life. Why did I go back to pharmacy school? Was it because I was meant to be one? I AM a good pharmacist, and my current employer loves me and my skills. I have patients and colleagues that are grateful that I am able to utilize my skills and knowledge to deliver the best care possible. Throughout my career, I’ve encountered many settings and subspecialties, which makes me more relatable to newer pharmacists and students. I can impart my wisdom and knowledge from my experiences to help pharmacists that are now coming into the market. But, I wouldn’t have known all this back then, so why DID I go back?

The truth is, I simply do not know, or really, do not remember. I think it’s a combination of reasons,as explained above. Nevertheless, it doesn’t change the fact that I did finish, and walked on graduation day. I’m very proud of myself that I went back and got my degrees. NO ONE CAN TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME.

However, it also made me think of why I got depressed in the first place. I was doing too much, even in pharmacy school. I kept spiraling out of control, until the feeling of being overwhelmed and helpless, and worthless just took over. Even after getting the necessary help, and unwavering support from friends and family, I still felt bouts of worthlessness. It made me think of what pharmacists are going through now. Many of them are overworked, doing too much, and feeling worthless. Many of them do not know how to get out of this spiral. And I know exactly how that feels.

I may not remember what motivated me during my pharmacy school days, but I know what motivates me now as a coach and mentor. I do not want ANYONE to hit rock bottom like I did. So, if I can help anyone, pharmacist or otherwise, before they feel so helpless, I absolutely will. All it took for me back then was to reach out and find the necessary people to get me through my tough times. I hope that those that can use my help and expertise will reach out to me.

Thank you, Facebook, for reminding me of that time in my life. The ceramic Spike the Bulldog is cute, right?

Two Lives Intertwined

Last weekend I went on a date with a guy that I thought was cool. He was attentive, and seemed to really be into me. He had just moved to my town, and is here on a long term assignment. Well, he had told me he had never been married, and since he hadn’t given me a reason to suspect him, I believed him. While I was on my walk with my friend’s dog, he called and told me that he lied and that he was married, but he hasn’t been with his wife for 3 years. We have mutual friends and acquaintances. It turns out that he had told that that he was married, and no interest in meeting anyone other than as friends.  When my friends told me that he had told them he was married, I blocked him from all forms of contact. It had confirmed my suspicions about him. He seemed like a classic cheater, blaming me for his behavior, and not remembering which lies he told.

I bring this up on my pharmacy blog, because what he did affected my mood, and my work professionally. I wasn’t as attentive as I should have been, I was constantly looking at my phone, waiting for a response from him, even though I wouldn’t get one since I had blocked him. I wasn’t as cheery as I was before. But in the end, whatever happened with this guy didn’t matter. I had a job to do, I had patients to take care of, and I had technicians, nurses and physicians counting on me to be the pharmacist. My problems with this guy had nothing to do with my job, and no one in the pharmacy or clinic cared.

We all have good days and bad days. Our personal and professional lives are linked, and often one will leak into the other. Whenever we are going through something difficult in our personal lives, it comes out in our professional lives. I was lied to and betrayed by this guy, and so I had my guard up at work. I wasn’t as open and friendly as before. have a coworker who feels like she has no control in her marriage, so she micromanages at work. It isn’t just the negative feelings that cross over into our professional lives; our positive feelings cross over as well. When I was first asked by this guy, before knowing his marital status, I was giddy like a teenage girl, and everyone at work saw it. Whenever my favorite technician told me she got into pharmacy school, her excitement was contagious. Everyone in the clinic was as excited as she was, and we all wanted her to succeed in school.

The opposite is also true. Whatever happens at work leaks into our personal life. Whenever we are frustrated or stressed at work, it seeps into our personal lives. Sometimes we take it out on our loved ones; sometimes we just hide in our own shells (this is what I do. I become a social hermit). Sometimes we drink more than we should.

In the end, we can control only so much that goes on in our lives, either professionally or personally. However, we can control what we allow in our other lives. However, this is very hard to do. And it is unhealthy to compartmentalize and shut down our feelings. So, what can we do? For starters, we can minimize our negative emotions. When I realized that I deserve better than that lying cheater, it was easier for me to get a better grip on my emotions. Then I was able to focus on the patients and the pharmacy. It also helped that I felt love and gratitude from everyone in the clinic. Whenever I’m frustrated with work, I exercise or go for a walk (although it has been harder to do this summer, with the temps being over 100). I have my friend’s dog Gri to help me as well. She loves me, and allows me to take her to the nature preserve near her house. Friends are great diffusers, both animal and human.

This weekend, I’m going to forget about the lying cheater, and make new, happy memories with people that love and respect me. And of course, get lots of hugs and kisses from this girl.

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I know she will never lie to me, or cheat on me 🙂

Eiffel Tower — Texas Style

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I work as a coverage pharmacist for an oncology clinic here in Texas. We have sites all over the state. This week, I’m working in Paris. Yes, there is a Paris, Texas. Actually, there are a lot of towns in Texas named after European cities. If you cannot afford to go to Europe, just come to Texas and buy a bus ticket.

It will be 2 years next month that I have been working as a coverage pharmacist. Many people first ask me what it is like to be a traveler, and then tell me that they can’t do my job. The truth is, I’m starting to think like them. Each site that I cover has its own personality, and its own way of doing things. I hate that I have to know so many different ways of doing the same tasks that is mandated throughout the entire company. I also have to deal with many different types of personalities from the staff, and with that, comes drama. I have not dealt with so many petty people before. Finally, the last minute schedule changes make it hard to make and keep plans, and have somewhat of a social life.

With that said, I DO love my job. I have met so many amazing people throughout the company. Like this week, the technician I’m working with took me around town and showed me the Eiffel Tower. I learn about different regimens used in different populations, and spread ideas that other sites have implemented successfully. For example, when I have my own site, I want to put cartoon stickers on the chemo infusion bags, so the adult patients can smile when they see the stickers. Getting chemotherapy is tough enough; such a small gesture makes a BIG difference. And yes, for the most part, I am appreciated for covering the site. Most of the pharmacists that I have covered know that their site is in good hands when I am there.

It is hard to be appreciated, and find joy in your job, especially in pharmacy. There are so many negative aspects that just beat a pharmacist down: irate customers/patients, phone ringing off the hook, impolite representatives from the physicians’ offices, insurance companies and reimbursement cuts, mountains and mountains of paperwork, being compliant with state and federal rules and regulations, mounting tasks from management (who are not pharmacists and really have no clue how the pharmacy is run), drug shortages, rising costs of medications, and so forth. So why are we in pharmacy in the first place?

Just remember WHY you got into your field, whether it be pharmacy or something else. Did you make someone smile today? Did you utilize your skills and make an important intervention? Did you pop some bubble wrap next to a nurse’s ear? Oh wait, I did that today. Remind yourself that it was YOU that did that: brought a smile to someone’s face, made a huge intervention, pop some bubble wrap, etc. Because of YOU, someone’s life got a little better and brighter. For that, you should be really proud of yourself.

I wonder if I can find some Texas style crepes …..

Moving On Up

My coach and mentor posted on social media that he had turned in his resignation at his current position. He is giving up his full time position as an anticoagulation pharmacist at the VA to become an entrepreneur full time. I am very excited for him and his journey, and I am very happy that I get to see him from the sidelines. A, you’ve been successful in your endeavor so far; I know you’ll go on to create more opportunities for yourself and for others.

When I read that post, it got me thinking about my own pharmacy journey, as well as my general life path. Am I truly happy with where I am right now? The answer is yes and no. I am very lucky to be in a job that I love. To be honest, I love my job most of the time; there are some times when I hate it. I have a job where I am challenged mentally, my schedule is normal business hours, I have great rapport with the physicians and nurses, the patients are grateful for my help and expertise, my colleagues and managers are always there whenever I need them, and the technicians I work with are extremely hardworking and loyal. Seems like every pharmacist’s dream job, right?

So why am I not truly happy where I am right now? There are so many reasons. The first reason is the direction that pharmacy is heading towards right now. There are too many players in the pharmacy game, and most of them are not even pharmacists. We are constantly fighting with the PBMs (pharmacy benefit managers; these are the companies that take care of the prescription insurance claims). Most of the medications dispensed in our pharmacies are high cost anti-cancer medications, they cost $5,000 to $20,000 per month. So of course we are fighting for reimbursement, and the right to dispense at our pharmacy, instead of forcing the patients to use their mail order specialty pharmacies. It gets REALLY hot here in Texas (we’ve already had several days in a row where the high has been over 100 degrees), and leaving medications out on the porch in this heat, or in a non climate controlled area, is just a waste of money, time, and resources (if a medication gets too hot, it can lose its efficacy). Patients then can get unexpected delays in their treatments, or their out-of-pocket costs are too high. This is especially true for Medicare patients, who are exempt from taking advantage of copay cards or other assistance from the drug manufacturers. It does break my heart to see patients unable to get their medications because they cannot afford it.

The biggest reason is that I feel like I’m not doing enough to make an impact in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a pharmacist, especially in the oncology setting. I love the path that pharmacy journey has taken me. I am definitely a well rounded pharmacist, because of my experiences; I do not have a narrow field of vision when it comes to pharmacy, which is a dangerous risk with those who specialize. However, I love helping people realize their dreams or overcoming their limitations. I have helped friends and strangers overcome fears and limiting perspectives, and they’ve had their lives change for the better. But I always feel like I can do …. more. I could help more people realize their potential. I could guide more people to find what their true passion is in life. I could advise more people to take the necessary steps needed to get their dream job. More importantly, I can help MYSELF more by sharing my wisdom and talent so others can achieve their goals and dreams.

I’m hoping to follow A’s footsteps, but in my own journey. A has done incredibly well for himself, but I know that his path is not my path. My path will lead me to my own success and experiences. Nonetheless, words cannot express how grateful I am for A’s guidance in my journey.

Until then, I’ll just keep singing the “The Jeffersons” theme song in my head. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L09qnRfZY-k