Are you in love with pharmacy as a profession? I know I am and I’ve been thinking about how and why a lot lately. Here’s my story….. and several factors supporting my theory. Forgive any chemo-addled inaccuracies as I replay some memories.
Pharmacists have been part of my life since I can remember. When I was a kid, Anderson Drug in Boulder filled my scripts and the glass Rx bottles were reused to house screws, nuts and bolts in the family workshop. In the mid-seventies Val and I met as he began his “floater” career with Walgreens and I worked with Dennis Ludwig of Ludwig Pharmacy on community outreach projects with the United Ostomy Association.
My memories inform me of the care and concern demonstrated by the Andersons, Dennis and Val. “What was the reason for the dosage increase?” or “Is there a possibility to get her off such and such?” The memories echo with the interest, attention and consideration provided when the pharmacist took the time at the counter to check up on me.
My personal pharmacists and the pharmacists I’ve met since, from Bo Bogan of Frisco wanting to “bring back dancing” to the 1990 CPhA Annual Convention to Matt McClure recently taking NAPLEX, share a devotion to serving their patients. It is this admirable and endearing trait which prods me to return their devotion.
Pharmacists dedicate a great deal of time to their studies and their practice. It is not a career or profession that one picks up or drops on a whim. Neither are my skills. I share the passion to dedicate oneself to continually acquire knowledge and skills with pharmacists.
My advanced degree in computer science, after my B.A. in Mathematics, was sponsored by AT&T Bell Labs where I once served as quality assurance manager for the first voicemail system in the early 1980s. When I left AT&T middle management, I soon found myself assisting Val with Colorado Pharmacal Association and Colorado Society of Health-System Pharmacists projects. For example, I leveraged my skills in:
- Developing a CPhA membership database from paper lists,
- Writing HTML code for the first content-rich CPhA website (to replace the single page “spinning capsule” site, depicted by the image above),
- Merging hundreds of CPhA and CSHP member records (with scores of duplicates) for the nascent Colorado Pharmacists Society,
- Migrating the CPS website from a self-hosted site to a “free” association management CMS supporting on-line membership services,
- Providing event planning and hosting services for 2 to 3 multi-day meetings per year,
- Daily member requests monitoring and servicing from anywhere in the world.
Through the years, I’ve dedicated about 0.3 to 0.4 FTE (full-time equivalent) for the association management of Colorado pharmacists groups, though as Val teases, I am “the Kalnins” of the Kalnins & Associates team. Over 18 years, that’s a significant dedication of time to another profession for a computer geek.
Skills and time are two valuable resources. Additionally, Val and I have also financially underwritten the profession in Colorado. A five-digit donation to the local school of pharmacy, deferred “contract payment” and carried association debt … yup, been there – done that!
Once I’ve dedicated myself to a hobby, cause or a person, I’m loyal and true. And, I guess, one could say it verges on “love.” Val and I have been together over 40 years – married over 30. We picked up cycling as an activity in the late 1980s and many of our pharmacy friends know how bicycle-tour crazy we can be. We both stuck with the state association too. Certainly after devoting time and effort to serve a cause, such as the pharmacy profession, the connection and commitment is undeniable.
If you’d ask me what I miss most about working for the state association, I’d have to say the regular connections with all my pharmacy friends. Tangentially connected for over 30 years and working closely with many in the community for nearly 20 years, builds solid connections. I wonder how the grand-daughter is growing in Georgia, if a health concern has been mitigated or how the weather in Texas affected someone’s home.
You may think the connections aren’t deep or relevant. The relationships are built on multitudes of short interactions across decades and they’re important and significant to me. There is almost an intimate flavor in some cases as I know who likes what wine or the best snow and ski runs for someone else. Relationships, the connections with people, make the profession rich. And the relationships made me fall in love.
It’s easy to say “yah sure,” “sounds good” but is it really being in love with pharmacy? My logic says “absolutely I’m in love” because I can feel a mother’s intense, defensive, anger rise in me when I feel the profession threatened. What is there to do about it? Just continue loving the profession.
Honor it. Respect it. Support it.
Honor pharmacists. Respect pharmacists. Support pharmacists. VALUE pharmacists!