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Xrayser: Why these stress-busting tips don't work for pharmacists

"Everyone has a story about finding a pharmacist on the floor weeping"

For Stress Awareness Month, Xrayser asks whether four suggested self-help methods are really useful in a pharmacy

Are you sitting down? Of course not. You’re stood at the bench with a script in one hand and a phone in the other trying to beg for stock that is, in theory, available from the manufacturer, yet your wholesaler maintains is unavailable with no date.

Meanwhile the patient peers over the dispensary screen at you frantically checking AAH Point or Alliance Healthcare Direct for stock information, sees the frown and perspiration on your brow, so just thinks you’re posting to Facebook: “No continuous combined hormone replacement therapy tabs for her – LOL!”

“Is it Brexit?” the patient asks. “You’re the fourth pharmacy I’ve tried. This is so stressful.” and your hand reaches towards one of 28 outers of sip feeds cluttering up the dispensary because you thought they came as singles, tempted to hurl it with force while screaming: “You think you’re bloody stressed? Try doing this job!”

So, as I began, are you sitting down? Then you may be in a position to contemplate that April is National Stress Awareness Month. Yes, an entire 30 days to make people aware of stress or alternatively, if you haven’t got a month to spare, try working in a community pharmacy for a day. Still, at least it prompted me to consult a stress website about ways to address the pressure.

Point one from the website: “Reduce the stigma associated with stress by talking openly and freely about stress and its effects.”

That’s OK to a degree, but do I really want to be known as “One Who Can’t Cope”? Everyone has a story about walking into a dispensary to find a pharmacist or manager on the floor weeping openly in the foetal position. It’s not great for team-building nor for promotional prospects, and apparently doesn’t earn a “good” rating from your General Pharmaceutical Council inspection.

Point two: “Share your coping mechanisms and help take focus off your own challenges.”

Yes, you read that right – there’s no such thing as stress, only challenges. By coincidence, that was a popular phrase of an area manager I had years ago, who couldn’t understand why 15 of the 21 store managers in his district left within 12 months. As for sharing my coping mechanisms, I am only too happy to do so, except that the inspector frowns on drinking wine in the dispensary.

Point three: “We all experience stress sometimes, so be nice to others going through it.”

This feels like saying “calm down” to someone in a rage, but I guess is really just the truism: “Be nice to people on your way up, because you’ll meet them on your way down.”

Point four: “The solution to stress is taking time to relax and do something you enjoy, remembering to exercise, eat well, and take life at your own pace.”

Yes, I can attest that this really is the solution, because when I do these things I’m not stressed. But then the only way I can do these things is when I’m not working in a bloody pharmacy, and I don’t need an entire month to be aware of that!

A long-running C+D contributor, the identity of Xrayser remains a mystery, but his irreverent views are known by all. Tweet him @Xrayser

4 Comments

Abena Aboagye-Heming, Dispenser Manager/ Dispensing Assistant

A very stress relieving article. Am smiling from ear to ear...

LORRAINE GELL, Community pharmacist

Loved this article. Made me smile. Are you sure you're not hiding in our pharmacy!

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

 “The solution to stress is taking time to relax and do something you enjoy, remembering to exercise, eat well, and take life at your own pace.”

Aptly put Xrayser!! If we all could do this, then who will run the Pharmacy?? Oh wait, I know, they are planning to introduce Pharmacist Apprenticeship!! But then, how will we we earn our living to do all that is in the Point Four??

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

Hilarious! 

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