Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I Bitchslap The California Pharmacist's Association.

Regular readers of my little blog garden already know about last year's California State Assembly Committee hearing on retail pharmacist's working conditions, and they've heard me take the California Pharmacist's Association to task for declining an invitation to attend. I did it again recently in a column for the trade magazine Drug Topics that may be working its way to your mailbox as I type. That prompted this lovely note from Lynn Rolston, CEO of the California Pharmacist's Association:

I wish you would check facts before you print opinions such as this one. CPhA would never decline to speak out on behalf of pharmacists. We were not asked to attend. We did not decline. This is a rumor that I would love to stop as it is unfair to CPhA staff and members who work so hard to advance the profession!

Well, tonight I make Lynn's wish come true. Here's a little fact-checking I did before I wrote a thing about that hearing:

Were any professional organizations, such as the American or California Pharmacists Association involved? Was their input solicited?

We invited the California Pharmacists Association to attend and testify, but they declined our invitation.

That was from an e-mail interview I did with Ben Ebbink, who is the Chief Consultant to the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment. Ben had no reason to lie to me.

But Lynn Rolston now says he's a liar.

Well you know what? Let's go with the small chance that he is. That Ben Ebbink pulled that out of his rear end for some reason and no invitation was issued to the California Pharmacist's Association to a hearing that discussed California Pharmacist's working conditions.

Don't you think the California Pharmacist's Association would be a little pissed off about that?

I mean, The California Retailer's Association was there.

So was The United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

Academics, advocates for senior citizens, students, even someone from The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles all showed up.

Yet no one from the California Pharmacists Association. Huh. So basically what Lynn Rolston is saying, to paraphrase a bit, is.


Well that's much better Lynn, thanks for setting the record straight. And way to stick up for the profession. Regardless of which one of you is lying, way to totally stick up for the profession.

Why on earth anyone is sending a dues payment to that organization is beyond me.


ThatDeborahGirl said...

dayamn drugmonkey

This post epitomizes the phrase "stick to your guns".

I wish Barack Obama were more like you. The conservatives need this kind of wake up call (read: bitchslap) in the State of the Union address tonight.

So proud of you man. This is inspiring.

Anonymous said...

wow. this really pisses me off. pharmacists association are worthless or bought out by the chains.

Bluedahlia (PharmD student) said...

We need more people like you in the profession!

Anonymous said...

YAY drugmonkey!!!!

Anonymous said...

I must admit normally I think your blog is nothing but a talking point straight out of the Huff Post and can't agree with you less, however as a fellow pharmacist you hit this one dead on.

One thing you forgot to mention or look into here is that all the state organizations are generally run by pharmacists who are planted by the same companies who manipulate the current conditions pharmacists currently work in. I am in Ohio (Yes I know it makes you cringe you are from here) and our state board and state associations are generally filled by higher ups in the various large pharmacy corporations located in the state.

I can't speak for CA but here in Ohio the board members seem to enjoy some pretty cushy positions. Pharmacist workload, working conditions, treatment etc, are never addressed here in the buckeye state by the board or any association.

Similar to what you have addressed the only points addressed seem to be MTM, clinical care, counseling, blah blah blah blah. As if a pharmacist in a busy site has time to do this let alone take a piss/shit or eat a decent meal.

I hold the pharmacists 50% responsible though. It only takes a few to demand better working conditions. Unfortunately only a few will stand up to this BS.

By the way your picture in Drug Topics is way dorky. I would have thought you dressed up in the Raiders Nation garb more appropriate but from your posts you probably think football is the sport of animals.

GOP 2010 (do you dare post?)

The Redheaded Pharmacist said...

But there is one point you failed to mention in this post drugmonkey. Lets say that the CPA had attended this hearing. Would it have done any good? Would they have representeed the interests of the pharmacists in CA? I'm guessing that would be a big no. Personally, I'd rather have my state association not even bother going to a hearing like that then to actually show up and be completely ineffective at representing my best interests as a pharamcist.
If the CPA needs a special hearing to find out there are problems with working conditions for CA pharmacists they aren't really doing their job are they? They shouldn't be going to some hearing but instead they should visit a local retail pharmacy during business hours and see for themselves what working conditions are like.

Curious George said...

I love it when you are a bad monkey.
Go, bitchslappin' bad monkey, Go!!!

PharmJam said...

Great post! I have sent a link to your drugtopics article and this one to all my classmates and also to a friend at university of pacfic. Hopefully we can get this as a forwarded email going around to every pharmacy student in the state of California!
I would love to hear Lynn bullshit her way through an explanation of how her turd of an organization is helping pharmacists.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your post. The profession needs more like you. The Boards and Pharmacists Associations have always been the voices of the owners and pharmacy chains. After all, most working pharmacists do not have the time to be active. Also, the government has historically participated in the exploitation of pharmacists by allowing us to be classified as salaried or exempt employees. This is the reasons that corporations have been able to schedule 12 or even 17 hour shifts, ignore lunches, breaks, and overtime. Hell, the boards haven't even had the guts to demand that there be a bathroom in the Pharmacy department.
However, the biggest fault lines with ourselves. When I got out of pharmacy school (a long time ago), I asked the older pharmacists why there were 44 hour work weeks, 12 hour shifts, no breaks, etc., and I was told if you don't like it you quit and someone else will be hired who will do it--so much for unity.

Stavros69 said...

I wonder if our views are in the minority and that the majority of pharmacists are like lemmings following the pack jumping off the cliff. They elect the incompetent leaders of the association

PharmD student said...

I'll be attending CPhA Outlook next weekend as a student delegate. I'm still not sure why I applied (yes - my school made us APPLY to be a delegate), much less why I was chosen and why I accepted. They spend a lot of time pushing these associations on the students - touting how much they have done for the profession, and how much they will do for our future - but I still don't think I've seen anything useful.

Last year, I'm told, someone from CPhA came out to our school and talked to the students about parlimentary procedure (used in the House of Delegates) and the amendments and policies up for vote. This year, no one could be bothered to visit us, and our student liaison tells me he has a hard time getting even an e-mail response from CPhA anymore. So much for investing in the future of the profession.

The amendments are pretty useless - it's all 'grammatical corrections' - and other students who attended the APhA Midyear have warned me that there will be bitter debates over single words. Are you kidding me? That's what's important to our association?

More laughable is the only policy we've been given to prepare for: "CPhA supports legislation which requires adequate and reasonable funding for state and federally mandated pharmacist and pharmacy services." Instead of actually doing something about it, we're going to spend a couple hours debating this new policy (and I fully expect debate), which doesn't actually DO anything.

I thought that I should try to get involved myself before just throwing all the associations in the "useless" bin, but I don't really have high hopes for the weekend.

Anonymous said...

You guys are kidding yourselves if you think any of this is going to get better. The pharmacist shortage is over. New stores are no longer going up at a rapid pace. In my area my corporation has over hired.

There is an army of new grads with 6 figures of students loans and no job who would love my job. Given how we have been treated in the best of times (when pharmacists were scarce and wages rising fast) what do you think will happen now? I will be shocked if wages don't drop significantly soon. New grads will work for 80k or less I'm betting. That is 66% of what I make. And they will work for that amount and not complain about lack of breaks ect. Lets face the facts here. We are screwed and APhA is right to not waste their time trying to improve things for us. It is a losing fight.

Anonymous said...

Blue Shield of "California" has forced me to get mainatinace RXs through Primemail in "New Mexico". Who needs California pharmacists?

Anonymous said...

The anonymous talking about "the pharmacist shortage being over" might be on to something. For the first time ever they are begging people to take vecation in my district because they just hired a huge amount of new pharmacists. I heard they are doing away with the sign on bonuses in my state now and there are a few new pharmacy schools going up with will also decrease demand by increasing supply. I guess I'm just glad to have a job, and I actually love my job and am happy with my half hour lunch break every day. Maybe working conditions are worse in other states, but in WI, the mandatory consulting law on all new and refill RX's I think requires them to keep higher staffing levels.

Anonymous said...

The number of schools opening is a huge issue. In Illinois we currently have 4 schools already with a fifth set to open soon and a second campus of the University of Illinois opening up as well. Where are all these students going to work? Already the chains are telling their interns there will nto be jobs for them when they graduate. I actually saw an interview in oen of the trades with the douch that is pushing to open the next pharmacy school in the state. He was asked if the lack of jobs and the end of the shortage were going to affect his decision to go forward with opening the school. His response was along the lines of "I don't beleieve that. There will always be jobs somewhere." He sees the dollar signs in opening a private pharmacy school and because the boards and accrediation societies are all chain run they don't give a hoot.

Anonymous said...

When I graduated (1991) I was told that automation was going to replace pharmacists. It wasn't long til the shortage started. Yes, the economy sucks right now but it won't suck forever and nothing is going to change the fact that the number of seniors is increasing rapidly. Hey you don't even need to be a senior to need meds, with obesity rates going up, soon kids will be on cholesterol meds, have diabetes sooner, etc. Maybe salaries won't continue to increase but to say we will be working for less is a silly doomsday-ish. The chains will start building again, there are just too many scripts to be filled, which translates to money to be made. Worry if you must but I think it is unfounded. One of you can have my job because I am just about worn down and I am only 41. Max time left on my sentence is 3 years, early out with good spending behavior!!

Anonymous said...

I would not be so quick to dismiss the notion of the end of the pharmacist shortage. We are also over-staffed in my district and hours are hard to come by. "The Golden Era" has come and gone. No longer do I receive daily phone calls from recruiters nor do I have an in-box full of e-mails from people wanting to hire me. The market is over-saturated and it is going to get worse. The industry can no longer support exponential growth. We are at the tipping point. We no longer hold the leverage against our employers we once had. I'm just going to sit back for now and enjoy the ride without rocking the boat to much.

Anonymous said...

I have four comments:

1. Some of the chains have a core philosophy of delaying their filling process to keep patients in the store longer . . . thus making them shop more (think Walmart and their filling process that's loaded with unnecessary steps). It's this philosophy that is at the root of many of the problems with the chain environment.

2. If the pharmacist shortage is really over, why do I keep getting job offers from Walmart every week?

3. If the pharmacist shortage is really over, there will still be a shortage of GOOD pharmacists. Whenever I call to get transfers, I swear that 80% of the time I'm talking to the biggest nimrods out there. Half of them can't even speak English.

4. To all those who complain about horrible chain jobs, stop your bitching and go work for an independent. That's what I did five years ago, and I could never go back to a chain again. It was the smartest and luckiest decision I ever made.

Sophia said...

All this shortage stuff is BS. Hospitals, long term care, nuclear...all have their own fields and specialties in pharmacy that are in dire need of help, but because they don't pay 120+ they're not worthwhile. Stop going for the big bucks the chains offer you to be their slave for 5 years. Get some training beyond just the PharmD. I'm at the end of my second year and I am on to this. I'm not going to sell myself short by just getting the degree and going to work for some chain, because that does nothing to set me apart or secure my job. I just don't see the point of getting all this education and then spend the rest of my life telling people what aisle the toothpaste is on. Of course, no offense to those who like retail and do your jobs well, but I think y'all are weird.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Sophia, I need to be "weird". I have $70,000 worth of loans to pay back. Apparently your situation is different. You should be thankful you don't have to whore yourself out to the chains. Am I wasting my education? Probably. Do you think I really enjoy my situation? I don't. Not at all. These are the cards I'm dealt. I simply do my best and go home. And Sophia, I've worked in hospital and long-term care and they also suck, just in a different capacity. You might as well get shit on by the chains and get paid instead of getting shit on by the long-term care facility for $30,000/year less.