I Am Not A Pharmacist, But I’m Willing To Try.Posted: February 16, 2011
The calls come in now and again. Sometimes the callers leave messages, other times I answer the phone without realizing what I’m getting myself into. Either way, they bring up issues I can’t possibly address.
I am not their pharmacist.
I am just the guy whose phone number is one digit different than the one that they use to reach the drug store.
The sheer chance of getting that phone number, combined with the odd work hours I keep, put me in a position to answer a lot of these calls to my house. I’ll answer the phone and an elderly woman’s voice will say something like “this is Ms. Edna, I need you to get me some more of my nerve pills.”
I use the example of an elderly woman because they’re by far the majority of my pharmacy callers. I’m not saying that to be disrespectful in any way to these women. My parents raised me better than that. I think the fact that these are the callers I get validates the point that women significantly outlive men.
Gentlemen, maybe we should consider seeing a doctor now and again. Let’s draw straws to see which one of us is going to go first.
I tell these callers that I am not a druggist. Some will repeat the number they thought they’d dialed, then I will explain how I came to be the one to answer. We’ll tell each other to have a nice day and end the call.
Some of the other callers struggle with the idea that I’m not wearing a white lab coat, standing by to refill their blood pressure medication. I try to tell them I am not the druggist, but the message doesn’t get through.
The first time this happened, I ended up frustrated that I couldn’t convince her I was not at the drug store. My caller hung up after expressing disappointment with my level of customer service. I did not feel good about that, so I instituted a change in my procedure.
Under my new procedure, callers who dial me seeking pharmaceuticals get an enhanced level of service. If I can’t convince the caller I’m not a druggist, I get their name and tell them I will have one of my people call them right back. Then, I call the drug store and ask them to call the person.
The caller gets her medication, ends the call in a much better frame of mind, and I can tell myself I did something nice.
I Can’t Quit On Them
I’ve been taking the occasional pharmacy call for about twenty years now. Sometimes I think of changing my phone number.
I haven’t changed it yet. I know that if I do abandon that number the phone company will eventually re-issue the number to someone else. No one else has a procedure in place.
I’m not going to hand my patients over to just anyone.