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David on Pharmacy

My choice to become a pharmacist was not a particularly well-thought out one. I excelled in mathematics and chemistry, two disciplines that were—and still are—critical to pharmacists. I attended prescriptionpadbottle-270x300-270x300a career fair in high school, picked up a brochure, leafed through it quickly and saw the potential salary pharmacists could earn.

Thoughts of yachts, mansions and far-flung trips flashed through my mind. Combine that with my math and chemistry skills and I decided right there in that dingy little classroom which path my life would take.

I’m still waiting to purchase my first yacht. My home is not a mansion, but it is on the north side of comfortable and value. Pharmacy has provided me with a very interesting and—at times—exciting life.

In my hospital career, I had the privilege of working closely with doctors, nurses and hospital administrators, some of whom I still call friends. I witnessed behind the scenes discussions, and negotiations that go into prescribing and running a pharmacy and hospital.

Some of the most interesting and depressing times were spent in the emergency room at Riverside Hospital during my first year as a pharmacist working nights. With lots of free time on my hands, I would visit the nurses and doctors in ER, witnessing gunshot wounds, suicide attempts, horrific car accidents and the life and death, split-second decisions made by the clinical staff. As I got to know the doctors and nurses, I became a part of their team participating in code blues and making recommendations to the interns and residents. I developed a sense for the importance of the work these clinicians perform. I am proud to have been and still am a part of that team.

I switched gears in mid-career and became a community pharmacist. This aspect of the profession has provided me with an entirely different view of the profession. I have come to know my patients (yes, we call them patients) very well. I have seen mothers come in with infants with ear infections and watched as those children have grown into flourishing adults. That kind of satisfaction only comes with years of service. I’ve seen the magic that medications can perform in healing and easing pain and suffering. And I’ve been witness to the silent frustration experienced by patients approaching counter for remedies for intractable vomiting caused by the chemotherapy and seen the fear and anguish caused by HIV. I’ve held many a hand and listened to countless, heart-wrenching tales.

istock_000004379722small-300x193By the same token, I’ve seen the unbridled exuberance experienced by patients that have staved off their diseases in the form of remission and cure. I exalt in their triumphs and suffer with them in their setbacks watching the slow progression of decline or repair.

I see the same patients several times a week which is much more than most physicians are able to. This allows me the privilege of learning about their lives, their concerns and challenges and in an informal way allows me to assess their lifestyles in an unguarded fashion. As a pharmacist, I have a unique view of my patients, one I cherish dearly.

So my decision to enter the profession of pharmacy, no matter how little thought went into it, has turned out to be a extremely rewarding one.