February is here. The beginning of a new year is the time to make big decisions. Indeed, many of my community pharmacy comrades are looking to leave the sector. So, instead of hitting the gym, I decided to get a new job.
As an excellent candidate, my pièce de résistance is my portfolio of certificates from many a CPD event. Now I seek relief in such activities as they get me out of staying late in the pharmacy, hopelessly battling the mounting workload. The tea break conversations especially offer a form of cut-price group therapy sessions among beleaguered peers.
I thought I needed to talk to someone for career advice. A person who knew a lot about hiring and firing. A top talent spotter, with discernment for matching the right person to the proper long-term role. But booking time with Donald J Trump, DJ as I call him, was not easy. All my direct contacts had left. Calling the White House operator had the usual security hassles, but name recognition got me through.
DJ was a bit sulky today. I commiserated that the committee in Oslo, Norway had failed to offer him the Nobel Peace Prize. Marginally consoled, my crisis now had his full attention. I told him I was feeling justifiably hard done by, undervalued and overworked. C+D editor James Waldron’s departure from the sector had been the final straw.
Straight talking as usual, DJ quickly outlined a role he felt I was suited for. “The post-Brexit era is pharmacy’s for the taking,” he barked. He suggested becoming the US negotiator for access to NHS medicines in the trade deal with the UK. “A job to end all shortages,” he said. Wow! As a community pharmacist, I had never thought of myself as having expertise worthy of international trade negotiation.
He said: ‘‘But you buy medicines from the EU, right?’’ I tried explaining that UK medicines buying mostly does not involve direct-to-pharmacy sales, but he yelled impatiently: “You community pharmacy guys have nothing to lose. There are medicines you just can’t get hold of and you can’t afford to dispense at a loss. Well, once the deal is agreed, you will have medicines and lots of them.”
I struggled to understand why I was suited for the role and what the deal offered community pharmacy. However, DJ was now fully committed to the idea and sought to sweep aside any hesitation on my part. “Look, you more than most know how to live well with a bad deal. In the worst-case scenario, everything will be the same as before but instead of blaming the folks at the Department of Health and Social Care, you can blame Brexit!”
Turning to how I would secure the role as negotiator, he said he would put in a good word. “The key is finding guys like you to help us do what we want.” With that, someone cut into the call, interjecting that his next meeting was waiting. Then he was gone. A true man of the people.
I sat there in the pharmacy, holding a dead phone line and staring into my cold coffee mug. The thought strayed into my mind – just imagine how many times community pharmacy has been discussed by the government as a dedicated workhorse able to live with a lousy contract. Sadly, it dawned on me: Maybe I was better qualified for this trade negotiator role than I imagined. Watch this space.
The pharmacist is based in the south of England