My second placement to complete my Pharmacy Technician course was to work in a hospital pharmacy for a month.

During my time in school, we had a course called “Pharmacy Practice Hospital”. Our instructor told us about many things related to working in a hospital environment. Its focus seemed to be on dealing with patients as they came in, getting their health and medical history, as well as handling drugs in a sterile environment. To say I was not looking forward to my hospital placement would be an understatement. But unlike my retail placement, which I had a clue of what to expect, and thus was able to be nervous and fearful, I had no clue what to expect at the hospital.

Fortunately, it was nowhere near as hard as I had feared during class time. In fact, it was down-right under-whelming.

First off were the hours. They ranged from 6:30 to 7am. sadly, that required me to get up at 4am to be on time. Living outside the city has its advantages and disadvantages. It was rough. I used to get up at 5:30am to go to work. I did that for 3 years. This was waaay worse. Especially at night, when I wanted to unwind, maybe do some writing or even study. But by 7 or 8pm, I was ready for bed.

The first day was to have an orientation of the pharmacy. Granted it’s not a big pharmacy, but a little more detail in the orientation tour would have been nice. Instead, it was “Here’s resource, narcotics is over there, that’s receiving…” In short, the details of the tour were lacking.

But I was put to work quickly. Just as quickly, I learned that things were A LOT more low-key than I had feared. In fact, it was nearly comatose. The only time there was any kind of urgency was when working in the sterile work room, making syringes and IVs. Compared to the retail pharmacy, I could have taken a nap and not many people would have known.

It wasn’t until my second or third week I discovered the reason for this more laid-back attitude. It was a union workplace. I won’ go into details about my thoughts on unions. If you want to read my thoughts on unions, I’m sure I have a blog about it around here somewhere. But the long and short of it was you HAD to take breaks, you HAD to finish at a certain time, because overtime, even if it meant finishing something, wasn’t a good thing. And of course, there was the usual bellyaching about everything that usually goes on in union workplaces. Funny thing was, one of the most senior union guys there told me how panicked most of the employees there would be if they had to work at a retail pharmacy. Which just shows how lucky and easy those people have it, and that they shouldn’t be bitching about what they got.

The biggest thing I noticed about the hospital pharmacy was the utter lack of patients. Sure we prepared drugs for the patients within the hospital, but we never had to deal with them, like I had feared in the course. It wasn’t until the last day that I discovered that pharmacy technicians actually did what was shown to us in class (taking new patient’s info), but that since it is a sensitive time for patients, they didn’t feel it was something students like myself should be a part of.

That made perfect sense to me. A patient coming into the hospital usually isn’t there for a fun time. In fact, they are probably under serious stress, pain, sorrow, anger, etc. Having a student like myself standing with the pharmacy technician would only make an uncomfortable situation more uncomfortable. But it made me wonder why school was teaching that to us in class? Sure it is part of our post-graduate exams so that we can become fully registered, but it just seemed that was a big focus of the course, when many of us, if any of my fellow classmates, had any exposure to that at all.

As with any work environment, there are always good people and not so good people. Fortunately, I had the pleasure of working with a few of the good people. They were helpful, taught me about the job, and most importantly, were incredibly patient. There were others who were ok, and helpful. Then there were those who just ignored me, and probably detested the fact that students were mingling around their work area. I heard some terrible stories about people working there who made students cry, or who saw no benefit of having students around. Oddly enough, these latter people were generally the same people who bitched and complained about their cushy job.

Before I started my placement, I had no intention of ever working at a hospital. But that thought has changed, slightly. I wouldn’t mind working at a hospital, just not one that was so far away that it would affect my after-work life. Besides that fact that is when I do my writing, I also don’t want to just have a good paying job. I’ve done that before, and it was miserable. I’d rather have a job I enjoy doing than one that pays huge. Plus, my goal was to hopefully be more a part of the community, and not locked away in the basement of a hospital.

The best part though was that once my hospital placement was complete, I was officially done with school! There is still more to do, but for now, I’m going to enjoy a few days of rest before getting back to business of preparing for the tests that will lead to me being registered as a Pharmacy Technician.

Miles yet to go…

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