Life as a Pharmacy Assistant
Teresa Kelly has worked as a Pharmacy Assistant for 20 years. Her first job came after finding an ad in the newspaper and applying for it. She has jumped around to three pharmacies during that time, but she has never looked back.
“I love this job,” she proudly laughs. “I love my patients, I love who I work with and I just love being able to really get to know all of the people who come in on a personal level.”
Teresa has now earned a 9-5 position and an income of $30/hr.
Her main focus is to help people.
“People don’t come into the pharmacy when they are feeling well,” Teresa said, “They are here because they aren’t feeling great so you need to be a people person and a bit compassionate.”
Now it’s funny because I always assumed the Pharmacist ran the show; that was until I saw Teresa Kelly and her colleagues in action.
They do pretty much everything to make the Pharmacy operate. “We are the Pharmacist’s sidekick,” Teresa joked, “we are like their right-hand man.”
Their daily tasks include everything from collecting the faxes that come in from the doctors to stocking and putting out all of the supplies, to making sure that the right inventory is coming in to fulfill prescriptions, to answering phones and patient questions, to following up with doctor offices about prescription renewals and dealing with insurance.
I remember going into the Pharmacy about a month ago to fulfill a prescription and coming home all distraught because the prescription I had been given was NOT the one my doctor had ordered. I angrily picked up my phone to call the Pharmacy and give them a piece of my mind, but I was quickly talked off the ledge by the Pharmacy Assistant who informed me that I was given a generic drug.
“A generic drug?”, I questioned. “Why would I want a generic drug when that is not what my doctor prescribed?”
In a very calm voice, the Pharmacy Assistant on the other end informed me that a generic drug is a copy of a brand name drug. The generic drug is pharmaceutically equivalent to the brand name drug: it contains the identical medicinal ingredients, in the same amounts and in a similar dosage form.
There may be many generic versions of the same brand name drug, and these are usually available at a lower cost.
Turns out they saved me $60 to take a drug that was exactly the same.
It was like carrying a Gucci knock-off bag and no one being the wiser!
From that moment on I knew that my Pharmacy Assistant was watching out for my family and I.
“We do have a lot of protocols in place,” Teresa emphasized, “as with all of the drugs and people’s health we need to have a lot of privacy and confidentiality in place. We need to make sure we don’t breach anything as we are dealing with people’s very personal information and we know all about their health history.”
Teresa emphasized that with more and more drugs coming into the market there are always jobs available.
“It is a very high demand job and if you are a good (pharmacy) assistant you can get a job anywhere,” she said.
The key to being a good assistant is to stick around. This industry sees a lot of students coming in and out, so if you plan to stick around and learn a lot, then you will have great longevity in this field and never be in need of a position.
Teresa considers the job to be a ‘lifelong learning experience’. Every day is different as you are always dealing with different patients and different ailments.
Teresa is thrilled that she answered that newspaper ad 20 years ago and encourages anyone who likes to help people, is curious about how medications work and is detail oriented to give it a try.
“It’s a great job. You learn so much every single day and after twenty years, I still have a fascination for how drugs work.”
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