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welcome to my website & podcast

Hello. I’m Sam, and I’m a Pharmacist that has a passion for the practice of Pharmacy.

Our profession is growing by leaps and bounds each and every day. And our growth in the healthcare community can only fully take shape by how well we train our pharmacy techs to help us fulfill our daily duties and responsibilities to both patients and the community.

Thus, my blog.. This blog on pharmacy and management is a collection of my thoughts, opinions, and lecture materials from the pharmacy tech class that I teach. If you have questions or concerns for me, just find me on LinkedIn.

I’ll share with you this brief YouTube Video of me that was produced by Samford University’s McWhorter School of Pharmacy in 2015:

 

 

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Sam Blakemore IMG_1742 is the Pharmacy Manager of Peds Rx Pharmacy Solutions. Connect with him via: LinkedIn Support the effort and PURCHASE MERCH.

 

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Profiles in Pharmacy October 2018 — Celebrating American Pharmacists Month

Thank you for taking the time to review my articles in the month of October during American Pharmacist Month.

If you haven’t had the chance to review the articles please take the time to do so. Each person that I had an opportunity to speak with had an interesting journey in becoming a practicing Pharmacist.

The journey of the practicing Pharmacist will certainly change and evolve in the coming years. Topics to consider and discuss with future Profile in Pharmacy participants will include the following topics:

  1. The role of the practicing Pharmacist in Managed Care
  2. The role of the practicing Pharmacist as Physician Extenders in the management of chronic disease states
  3. The role of the practicing Pharmacist as Prescribers which has taken shape in the Veterans Health Administration 
  4. The role of the practicing Pharmacist as an Independent Pharmacy Owner

All great things to consider…. but until then, feel free to check out my previous posts with Donaye Blake, Brenda Denson, Tim Lacey, and Brad Schmidt.

Profiles in Pharmacy — a conversation with Donaye Blake, PharmD — 10/12/2018

Profiles in Pharmacy — a conversation with Brenda Denson, PharmD — 10/10/2018

Profiles in Pharmacy — a conversation with Tim Lacey, RPh — 10/03/2018

Profiles in Pharmacy — a conversation with Brad Schmidt, PharmD — 10/01/2018

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Sam Blakemore IMG_1742 is the Pharmacy Manager of Peds Rx Pharmacy Solutions. Connect with him via: LinkedIn Support the effort and PURCHASE MERCH.

 

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Profiles in Pharmacy — a conversation with Donaye Blake, PharmD — 10/12/2018

October is American Pharmacists Month.

In this edition of Profiles in Pharmacy, I have the great opportunity to speak with Donaye Blake, PharmD.

This Profile is truly a reflection of the commonality in our life’s story that first began in a dormitory nearly 20 years ago. I met Donaye circa fall 2001 while living in Pittman Hall at Samford University.

Pittman Hall was our home away from home. A place where we would study, sleep, eat, and bond over ping-pong and television.  Some of  the men that I would meet during those days would later become our future leaders in law, medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, business, and public health.

We lived our best lives in a chasm between the “Bubble” and being outside the “Gates.”  While we made jokes of our existence living in the “Bubble” by acting as though we so desperately needed to escape; we all silently understood that we loved and respected the safety of our campus. The safety, the tranquility, and the ease by which we maneuvered in this “Bubble” allowed us to grow up and learn from both our successes and our failures, our ups and our downs, our hopes and our fears.

After a long day, we would swipe our ID badges to have access to the CAF where we would eat, sit, and listen and learn from each other. We learned life lessons over those meals; we needed those lessons and that support from one another to become the men we are today. Furthermore, it was because of our days in the “Bubble” that we were able to have a real opportunity to learn from our mistakes in a safe environment.

We laughed, yelled, cried, and prayed with one another. We spent many late nights studying and fighting sleep. We broke bread together, or rather broke onion rings together at our favorite hang out The Purple Onion. And then one day we walked across a stage and shook hands with the President of the University, took pictures, and became official graduates of an institution of higher education. We came in as boys and left to begin our journey as young men. We hugged each other, said we would keep in touch, and departed from each others presence to attempt to fulfill the mission that God had given each one of us. We all worked hard to make it; working to achieve our full potential to become the men that God created… men that could successfully take care of family and self.

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After Donaye graduated from college, he attended Physical Therapy school in Georgia. I thought I wouldn’t see him on campus again, except for a few football games here and there.  But sometime in the fall of 2002 during my Sophomore year of college that all changed.

Donaye entered the classroom for my General Chemistry II course with books, and I looked at him and said, “dude what are you doing in here…I thought you were doing Physical Therapy school?”

His response, “I changed my mind, I’m going to Pharmacy School.”

Little did we know — our individual journeys would continue to cross paths as we took a whirlwind adventure towards completing our goals, and reaching our final destinations as “First Generation PharmDs“. In that Chemistry class I watched Donaye meet the love of his life,  a year later I watched him enter Pharmacy School, and four years later he would graduate.

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How many actively practicing Pharmacists do you know are Hip-Hop artists?  Donaye Blake, PharmD has produced 4 albums and is currently in the studio working on album number five. But it’s his album “The Sequel” that most inspired me in my own personal pursuit towards becoming a Pharmacist.  In the song entitled “Guess Who“, I felt his pride, determination, and energy on his impending accomplishment of earning a PharmD when he rapped the following words…

Haters hate the fact, that I’m so laid back, PharmD slash Rap, imma get that“. — Dab Haskal — lyrics from song “Guess Who” album, The Sequel

I would enter Pharmacy School in 2008 one year after he graduated from Pharmacy School in May 2007. Donaye, now a Retail Pharmacist with Walgreens helped me earn my first job in Pharmacy by recommending me to the Pharmacy Manager Joe Randall, PharmD. I’m thankful for that opportunity as I began to learn about my profession in a community pharmacy.

Fast forward and Donaye has been a practicing Pharmacist for 11 years. He’s worked as a Retail Community Pharmacist and he now serves in the role of a 7 on 7 off Staff Hospital Pharmacist. I’m thankful to know him because just seeing him achieve his goals, helped me to believe that I could do the same.

Lastly, but most importantly, Donaye Blake, PharmD  is a devoted husband and a wonderful father to two beautiful daughters.

Once again, I’m very thankful for Donaye taking the time to reflect and respond to this set of questions. He has never been shy about expressing his personal truths. Thus, readers, please take into consideration his perspective on the Life of a Pharmacist. He offers a diverse perspective that both Pharmacy peers and laypersons can take into consideration in understanding our diverse perspective on describing the pressures of attending Pharmacy School and the pressures of being an actively practicing Pharmacist.

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Sam: When did you graduate Pharmacy School?

Donaye: 2007

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Sam: Bachelors Degree?

Donaye: Exercise Science

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Sam: Residency?

Donaye: No. I was ready to get paid so I could give it all to Sallie Mae

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Sam: Can you tell me about your career — what jobs you’ve had — positions and titles that you’ve held — please don’t be modest 

Donaye: Because the pharmacist job market was far less saturated than today’s, I took a two and a half month break after graduation to travel, relax and study. After finally sitting for and passing the boards, I immediately started at Walgreens as a floating pharmacist between two Birmingham stores. After 3 years of floating, I accepted a 7 on 7 off overnight position which was the best decision of my professional life. After seven years of overnights and relocating my family to Tennessee, I was offered a position at a leading hospital in Nashville as a 7 on 7 off day shift staff pharmacist.

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Sam: A lot of folks may not know that you’ve had an influence on me considering a career in pharmacy. I remember seeing you around campus in 2001 and watching you go through the phase of considering a career in physical therapy and then transitioning your career towards a pursuit in pharmacy. How did you realize that pharmacy was the right fit for you? 

Donaye: While in Physical Therapy School at North Georgia College, we had a guest speaker from Mercer’s pharmacy program. He was giving a lecture about loading dose and I was so absolutely intrigued that I actually immediately withdrew from the physical therapy program to return to Samford University in order to satisfy prerequisites for McWhorter School of Pharmacy.

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Sam: We both graduated from the Exercise Science Sports Medicine Department when we were in undergrad. Has that undergraduate background had an effect on your practice as a Pharmacist? If so, in what ways do you incorporate that foundation of knowledge? 

Donaye: In my opinion, Samford University’s Exercise Science program is one of the most thorough programs in the country. That foundation of knowledge has been paramount in assisting in patient counseling and recommendations as patient questions aren’t always exclusively about drugs. Understanding physiology and anatomy is sometimes extremely helpful for productive patient consultations.

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Sam: I know that you have a passion for music – especially hip hop music. You’ve released multiple albums under the moniker “Dab Haskal” – how have you been able to balance music with your professional life as a Pharmacist? 

Donaye: I’ve always had the belief that if people really want to do something, they’ll find time to do it. Music is my opportunity to vent about social and political frustrations, but in a creative and inspiring space. It’s as much a part of my identity as my last name. I’m currently working on a project called ‘Therapy.’ This will be album number five. 

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Sam: Have you ever performed live with a band? Do you think some of your patients would suspect that you’ve released multiple Hip-Hop albums? 

Donaye: Early on, I did several live shows including a charity event at Samford University (Kickin’ It for Kidz). No. My being a hip/hop artist appears to be a foreign concept to patients and co-workers alike…until they hear a sample. I prefer the element of surprise

iTunes and Google Play links to C.O.M.A (released in 2015)

@DABHaskal on Twitter

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Sam: Life as a Pharmacist can be very stressful. We live a life where there’s no room for error. How do you balance this professional life with being a family man? 

Donaye: As a young Pharmacist, I didn’t require much sleep so finding time for professional and family life was no problem. However, now that kids have entered the picture, priorities have changed. Fortunately, my 7 on 7 off schedule allows me to spend more time with the family than the average full-time pharmacist.   

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Sam: What advice would you give to pharmacy students and actively practicing Pharmacists on how to maintain an appropriate work/home balance? 

Donaye: I would advise young Pharmacists to work as hard and as much as they can early to pay off all debt so later they can benefit from having such a wonderful salary. No debt provides options and less desperation during times of transition and/or professional hardships.

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Sam: Based on current USA data published from https://datausa.io/profile/soc/291051/ black people make up 7% of  actively practicing Pharmacists. Thus, me and you are part of the 7 percent. What words of encouragement would you give young black kids looking at you thinking it would be cool to become a Pharmacist, yet uncertain if they could overcome potential life obstacles to make it?

Donaye: I would encourage young black kids to drown out negativity and believe in themselves. There’s nothing special or exceptional about that 7% of black pharmacists other than them taking interest in the pharmaceutical field and pursuing it to completion. I’m of the belief that anybody of sound mind & body can accomplish just about any endeavor with enough hard work and desire to achieve. Today, the only obstacle is mental!

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Sam: Describe a day in your life as a practicing Pharmacist. What are some of the things the public doesn’t always understand you’re dealing with in making appropriate pharmaceutical care decisions? 

Donaye: In the retail setting, life as a Pharmacist (and technician) was just short of chaos. In my 11 year experience with retail, much of it was spent understaffed with impossible goals set for my team by upper management. We’d have to juggle phones ringing nonstop, high script counts and the drive thru buzzing constantly all while being short-handed and exhausted. So yes, making appropriate pharmaceutical care decisions was a daily challenge, but one that most retail pharmacists and technicians did/do flawlessly.

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Sam: How must Pharmacists improve their communication with the public so that the art and science of pharmacy can be more understood?

Donaye: In the retail setting, I think pharmacists have done an excellent job at communicating with the public. I think the biggest obstacle is actually finding time to speak with patients with all the other responsibilities and handicaps hindering that most important task (interpersonal communication)    

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Sam: Why has a Pharmacy Sitcom never been created? If it were created should it be in a retail pharmacy or in a hospital pharmacy? I vote retail but that may cause a bit of division in our community 😉 

Donaye: It’s interesting that you asked. A good friend approached me about a possible reality show based on my overnight pharmacy retail life. Apparently, he read one of my numerous “Midnight Madness Chronicles” on Facebook and was highly amused. The idea quickly fizzled out because I didn’t think Walgreens would allow cameras and video equipment in the pharmacy due to HIPAA regulations. I think retail pharmacy would be an ideal setting for a pharmacy sitcom.

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Sam: You’ve had a passion for finance for years. I remember you talking about Dave Ramsey books and how to save and pay off debt. What would be your advice for pharmacy students and Pharmacists struggling with student loan debt? 

Donaye: I graduated with 204k in student loan debt. My advice would be to work hard early and often to chip away as soon as possible. Do not let it linger. Do not buy a house and/or car after graduation. Do not take advice from other broke pharmacy students with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. PERIOD!!!

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Sam: How has becoming a father changed your practice of pharmacy?

Donaye: It hasn’t changed. I still practice the same, but my desire to “move up” in the pharmacy ranks has decreased. For me, it’s more important to be present in my kids lives early. Often times, holding an important title beyond staff PharmD equates to less time at home.

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Sam: Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Donaye: PAY OFF YOUR STUDENT DEBT EARLY!

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Sam Blakemore IMG_1742 is the Pharmacy Manager of Peds Rx Pharmacy Solutions. Connect with him via: LinkedIn Support the effort and PURCHASE MERCH.

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Profiles in Pharmacy — a conversation with Brenda Denson, PharmD — 10/10/2018

October is American Pharmacist Month.

In this edition of Profiles in Pharmacy, I have the great privilege of speaking with Brenda Denson, PharmD about her career in pharmacy.

I met Brenda Denson circa April 2012. At the time she served as the Investigational Drug Pharmacist for Children’s of Alabama. I spent a few days with her and enjoyed my time. I asked her questions about the role of the Investigational Pharmacist, and I asked her questions about life as a Pharmacist. Oftentimes in life it’s not the conversations you remember, but rather how a person has made you feel. Brenda is down to earth, and enjoys sharing her knowledge and practical experiences.

A quote by Maya Angelou that I enjoy is as follows:

” I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou

After working with her and being her peer in the world of Pharmacy, I’m glad to know Brenda Denson. She has a genuine passion for the practice of pharmacy, and is able to effectively share this passion with patients, peers, and students. Brenda is a graduate of Samford University’s McWhorter School of Pharmacy. She currently serves as as a Pharmacy Educator for Children’s of Alabama Pharmacy Department and is a member of Alabama’s Board of Pharmacy.

Brenda has a high emotional intelligence, a strong work ethic, and a persistence to produce quality work. I’m thankful that she took the time out of her busy schedule to share her knowledge of pharmacy practice and life with her peers, students, and laypersons interested in our profession.

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Sam: When did you graduate Pharmacy School? Bachelors Degree? Residency? 

Brenda: 1998 followed by a one-year residency at Children’ Health System

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Sam: Can you tell me about your career — what jobs you’ve had — positions and titles that you’ve held — please don’t be modest 

Brenda: Residency, then floater pharmacist for a year, then Lead stem cell transplant pharmacist (where we opened a satellite for our new Stem Cell transplant service), then clinical coordinator/residency director, interim director.  After that I went and worked as a staff pharmacist at an LTAC, then consultant pharmacist, then investigational studies pharmacist, and now pharmacy educator.    Also, I have always had an extra job in addition to my full time job.  Those extra jobs always gave me a different perspective on pharmacy and healthcare in general.

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Sam: You were one of the first classes to transition to the PharmD — has the transition from the Bachelors in Pharmacy to the PharmD brought about significant changes in the practice of pharmacy? If not, how can pharmacists better position themselves in our practice to fulfill the high level of education that we have received in the classroom? 

Brenda: I was actually in the first all PharmD class at Samford.  I am proud of all of the accomplishments that my class has made.  The doctor of pharmacy program better prepared us for the ever-changing needs of our society and better prepared us to examine medications in more of a clinical setting while retaining a good business sense as well.

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Sam: In terms of demographics — A recent Bloomberg article (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-06/u-s-women-outpacing-men-in-higher-education-demographic-trends) stated the following “among professional degrees, women in the same cohort obtained three-quarters of professional degrees and 80% of doctoral degrees”– thus, women are outpacing men and this definitely seems to be the case in our profession… when you were in school was this the case or was it pretty much 50-50 in your class? How has being a Woman and Leader in the world of Pharmacy impacted you? What would you tell young women out there looking to reach the heights of their profession?   

 

Brenda: If I recall correctly our class was about 70:30 women to men.  Sometimes being a woman in leadership is challenging to balance home and career.  Men may feel the same struggle at times but gender roles that have been considered traditional or inherent to being a woman (e.g. as a mother wanting to always be there for your children) may often make that career and home life balance difficult.  My advice to women is that there are times that you need to stretch yourself to grow but there are times that you may just have to kindly reply no to extra opportunities.  That is ok.  You do not have to rush to achieve your goals.

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Sam: You have served in a variety of positions. Pediatric Pharmacist, Interim Director of Pharmacy, Resident, Investigational Pharmacist, Member of the Board of Pharmacy — did you ever plan or suspect that you would be in these various positions? 

 

Brenda: When I was a resident I made a list of goals.  I wrote down that I wanted to be a director of pharmacy.  Although I only served for 6 months as interim director at COA (Children’s of Alabama) I feel like I was blessed to have the opportunity in the time frame I had set out for myself.  As for ALBOP (Alabama Board of Pharmacy), I never would have suspected that I would be selected for such an honor.  When I was nominated as one of the people to be considered for the institutional slot on ALBOP I never thought that I would even make it to the final three for the governor’s list.  During my interview by the selection committee I was asked “Why do you think that you should be selected for the ALBOP position”.  My reply was: “I don’t know if I should be selected.  There are so many other pharmacists more deserving than me.”  I really just think that it was a timing issue.  I was put here for a reason and I am going to do the best that I can no matter how hard it is at times.

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Sam: I’ve always known you to take an active role in being a preceptor and showing students around the hospital — what is the one thing that you attempt to impart on these students before they leave your guidance? I know from my personal experience with you as my preceptor for a few days you always seemed to be so down to earth… I only learned later about your accomplishments. What has helped you keep the glass half full approach with students over the years?

Brenda: I feel like I can help them with practical skills.  I try to expose them to as much as possible and I try to help them learn how to find the right answer instead of memorizing everything.  Things change and it is more important to learn how to function and know how to find the correct answer.  As far as the “glass half full approach” …. I don’t know how people function thinking it is always empty.  To me the glass always has something in it.  I have hope.

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Sam: How has being a board of pharmacy member changed your perspective on the practice of pharmacy? I’m not sure people realize how much time you have to devote to fulfilling that duty… can you express how much time is involved with this while also completing your work duties as a practicing Pharmacist? 

Brenda: My perspective has changed since I have become a board member because I have the opportunity to see the best and worst in many situations of pharmacy practice.  I have gotten to see a bird’s eye view on thought processes of people when they do take a path that ends in breaking the pharmacy laws.  It makes me see situations differently now.  As far as the time commitment it does take some extra time to serve as a board member.  People contact you with questions, ideas, and thoughts that they have to share with you.  I always learn from those experiences but it does require a good bit of time.

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Sam: You have been very successful in your career as a Pharmacist — what keeps you balanced and grounded in your pursuit to being a good person while also attempting to further our profession? 

Brenda: Balance is a good word.  You cannot say yes to every opportunity that you are presented with.  Discernment is a must.  I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to take management and personal skills classes early in my career.  I think that they have served me well.  As for being a good person, I appreciate the compliment. I hope I am (a good person).  I feel that doing the right thing is just something that was engrained in me as a child. 

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Sam: Are people scared or intimidated to talk to you now that you’re on the Board of Pharmacy? Or has it opened up more dialogue with folks that you thought you would never talk to? Personally, I would imagine that you’ve stayed the same but the people have changed… 

Brenda: I don’t think that it has made a difference in how people talk to me overall.  I do think that dialogue has opened up about pharmacy issues with people that I did not routinely have encounters with previously.

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Sam: When I was at the Board of Pharmacy getting my license — one of the Board Members talked to us briefly and said “T is for Target” and that each newly licensed Pharmacist had just become a target. In his own way, I believe that he was expressing how easy it is to get caught up in doing things the wrong way as a Practicing Pharmacist. I often tell my students the hardest word to learn when you become a Pharmacist is “NO”. What’s a statement that you normally make to new grads getting their license? I know it might not be T is for Target — but do you have any sayings that you’ve used over the years? 

 

Brenda: I tell them that they have chosen a profession where you are a leader, whether you see yourself in that manner or not.  The general public trusts pharmacists and look toward their leadership for healthcare solutions.

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Sam: What did your family say when you told them you wanted to be a Pharmacist? I know your sister is a practicing Dentist. Did you ever get any pushback for your decision from friends or family? Personally, my family had never heard of becoming a Pharmacist — so when I told them that I was going to Pharmacy School they didn’t know what that meant… 

Brenda: I have known that I wanted to be a pharmacist since I was 16 years old. My dad wanted me to become a pharmacist so much that he took out a loan for my first year of pharmacy school because I did not receive enough loan money to attend Samford.  My siblings encouraged me in my pursuit to becoming a pharmacist.  I actually started pharmacy school two years before my older sister started dental school.  She said that I gave her the confidence that she could accomplish her goal of becoming a dentist, a field that has less women than men.  

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Sam: You have taught Pharmacy Technician courses for years. How has doing that shaped or influenced your pharmacy career? In your opinion, how can Pharmacists be more active in teaching Pharmacy Technicians? What would you suggest to Folks considering a career as a Pharmacy Technicians and what would you suggest to the Pharmacy Technician that now wants to transition into a career as a Pharmacist… anything else that you would like to add about yourself teaching Pharmacy Technicians? 

 

Brenda: I have been teaching pharmacy technicians at work on processes, policies, and concepts but I also helped teach a class at work called “Tuesday Tips for Techs” for several Tuesdays while many of our technicians were studying for the certification exam.  During that time, I was able to build closer relationships with our technicians and it enabled me to learn how many of them processed information.  It was a rewarding experience to see our technicians pass the exams.  In addition, I taught and coordinated a Pharmacy Technician course at Jeff State.  Often times the students were there to see if they wanted to become a technician.  I instructed them on study material but also brought practical experiences to them.  I was able to encourage them in the career path that was best suited for them at that time.  Some of them keep in touch and let me know what they are doing …. pharmacy or non-pharmacy.  I hope that I made a positive impact on their life and career.  Lastly, I have had the privilege of seeing some of our technicians go to pharmacy school and becoming pharmacists.  I have also seen many of our technicians go on to other careers that have made them happy.  I just want the best fit for them and their family.

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Sam: What changes to the pharmacy curriculum do you envision occurring in the next 10 years? How could these changes help produce a better Pharmacist? 

Brenda: Some of the changes are already occurring. I feel like that there will be many more interdisciplinary experiences that will allow our profession to show our value in healthcare to other healthcare professionals.  I think that the interdisciplinary experience will serve our patients better.

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Sam: Anything that you would like to add?

Brenda: I am proud to call pharmacy my profession.  I think that we have a unique opportunity to provide safer medication therapy through our expertise as pharmacists. 

 

Brenda4
Brenda Denson, PharmD pictured here at the Food, Drug, Administration

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Sam Blakemore IMG_1742 is the Pharmacy Manager of Peds Rx Pharmacy Solutions. Connect with him via: LinkedIn Support the effort and PURCHASE MERCH.

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Profiles in Pharmacy — a conversation with Tim Lacey, RPh — 10/03/2018

In this edition of Profiles in Pharmacy — Tim Lacey and I discuss his career and journey as a Practicing Pharmacist.
Tim has been a Pharmacist for over 40 years, and has plenty to share about the profession. To the young Pharmacist and Pharmacy Students that have an opportunity to meet and talk with Tim Lacey, please take advantage of that opportunity.  Ask questions about the profession and learn from his perspective and memories.
In order for us to realize the potential of our future as Pharmacists, we must first pay respect to those that helped to lay the foundation for which we stand upon. I often tell folks that my triumphs in life are just reflections of the parenting, mentoring, coaching, and praying that I received from individuals that cared enough to teach me right from wrong.
Me and Tim often joked that he was my Pharmacy Daddy. Because when it came to Pharmacy, he taught me right from wrong… 
I met Tim, while he was floating at the Walgreens on Greensprings Ave in Birmingham, AL circa 2009. I transferred stores later that year and began working for him when he was the Pharmacist in Charge for the Walgreens located on Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. I was still finding my way in pharmacy when we met. I still looked at Pharmacy like it would be a good job to have. Under his direction, I began to realize that Pharmacy was more than a job — it truly was a calling. Under his tutelage I began to realize what it meant to be part of a Profession…
I think about Tim often because he practices Pharmacy in the the trenches like a good offensive lineman. He hasn’t always gotten the recognition for the great work that he does, but he still keeps plugging away daily — 40 plus years later he’s still providing each individual with appropriate pharmaceutical care.
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Sam: What year did you graduate from Auburn? Since you’re a local Birmingham native, where did you attend HS? 
Tim: I attended Phillips High School (now Phillips Academy) and graduated from Auburn in 1976.
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Sam: How did you learn about pharmacy? I remember you telling me about your mom working at a local drug store when you were growing up, how did that impact your decision to pursue a career in pharmacy? 
Tim: I was influenced by the two pharmacists that worked at Cowgill Drug in North Birmingham, where my mother worked as a clerk. The owner, Franklin Little, was classy and professional, highly respected by everyone in the community. Everyone called him “Doctor Little”. The staff pharmacist, George Thompson, was a happy-go-lucky guy that seemed to enjoy his job immensely. I admired both very much and decided that I wanted to be a combination of the two.
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Sam: There are foundational lessons I learned from watching you practice. Things like keeping appropriate eye contact with customers, how to keep the pharmacy lighthearted with a few jokes, knowing your patients name when they come to the counter, and always being the early shift pharmacist on Monday mornings when you’re the manager…. Who are some of the men and women in pharmacy that taught you the way of doing things the right way? And in what way did each person influence your practice of pharmacy? 
Tim: In addition to the two already mentioned, I had the privilege of working a number of years for Jimmy Harrison, president of Harco Drugs, and Jerry Thomas, vice president of Harco. They made working for Harco seem like a family business, where everyone was important. When I decided to go back to work for Harco after Big B Drugs was bought out by CVS, I received a personal phone call from Mr. Harrison, telling me how excited he was that I was back. When he made the difficult decision to sell Harco to Rite Aid, he personally hand wrote a letter of apology to each of his pharmacy managers, explaining why he made the decision. It meant so much to all of us. He taught us the right way to treat employees and patients.
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Sam: Can you describe your career path — I know about Big B Drugs and helping to open the Walgreens in Pelham, have there been any other stops you would like to discuss? How have your jobs in pharmacy impacted your outlook of the profession? 
Tim: In addition to working at Cowgill as a teenager, I worked at Campus Drugs in Auburn (a Harco store) while in school. After graduation, I did my internship with K-Mart Pharmacy in Huntsville. After I received my license in 1977, I returned to Harco, working briefly in Talladega before opening a new store in Alexander City. I became homesick for my family and friends in Birmingham, and started working for Big B in 1979. I stayed with them for 17+ years until they were bought by Revco, then eventually CVS. By then, Harco had locations in Birmingham and I received an offer from them in 1997. I was glad to be back with the Harco family, but the Rite Aid deal was not long after. I stayed with Rite Aid for about another year. I began hearing rumors about Walgreens coming to Alabama, and started checking about possible employment. I had been told many years before “if you ever get a chance to work for Walgreens, take it!” I had the honor of being one of 3 pharmacists hired to open their first Alabama store, in Pelham. I now have 20+ years with Walgreens.
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Sam: In your opinion what have been the differences in curriculum when you compare the  Bachelors Degree in Pharmacy to the Doctor of Pharmacy degree? It seems that when we talked about your curriculum (BS degree) you told me about having to work a full year as an intern after graduation prior to being allowed to register as a pharmacist… In your opinion what were the strengths and weaknesses of the BS in Pharmacy and what are the strengths and weakness of the Doctor of Pharmacy? Has the transition been what you thought it would be — and does the BS in Pharmacy receive enough respect from the younger generations of Pharmacist? 
Tim: The PharmD degree has much more clinical component than the old Bachelors degree. In my opinion, at first, there was a shortage of practical experience with the PharmD students, but I believe that has been addressed and corrected now. When I graduated, the requirements were different in that we had to get the majority of our intern hours after graduation, which gave us about a year of practical experience under supervision. I probably learned as much in that year as I did in 3 years of pharmacy school. The PharmD students get great experience on their rotations in their final year. I think it would have been fun to do that while I was a student. For the most part, I’ve received nothing but respect from my students. They recognize that 40+years of experience counts for something, and that I know what I’m talking about (most of the time).
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Sam: What pharmacy law rule do your current prescribers have the most difficulty understanding, thus leading to errors and calls for clarifications? 
Tim: I think, over the years, the one rule that causes the most confusion, is the “two signature lines” rule. Technically, if a prescription blank does not have that, it’s not a valid prescription. I understand there is some talk about eliminating or modifying that rule.
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Sam: What would you tell a new grad? 
Tim:  I would tell a new grad that patient safety is the most important thing. If something is unclear, whether it is the drug prescribed, directions for use, potential interactions or contraindications, you must get it right. If you don’t get it right, it doesn’t matter how fast you got it to the patient. Ours is one of the few, if not the only profession, you have to bat 1000, or there’s a problem.
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Sam: How has being a preceptor changed for you over your career? Is it harder or easier to teach? How many students do you think you’ve taught over the years? 
Tim: Student pharmacists are so well educated these days. I feel that sometimes I learn more from them than they do from me. As far as being harder or easier to teach, it depends on the student. Some come to me with no experience in retail. There is a learning curve for them. Five or six weeks is not long enough to learn everything we have to deal with. The ones with retail experience are usually the easiest. I would estimate that I have had close to 500 students, including students on rotation and students that worked part time. I often wish that I had kept a scrapbook of all my students over the years.
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Sam: Is being a Pharmacist what you thought it would be?
Tim: Yes, and no. Pharmacy, especially retail pharmacy has changed so much over the last 42 years. I never dreamed that I would be administering immunizations. I never imagined the impact that third party payors would have on the profession. I never thought I would have to deal with a drive thru window. 
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Sam: Is there anything that you would like to add? 
Tim: The profession has been good to me. It has given me a nice income, and a sense of being a part of something that helps people. I have derived much satisfaction from mentoring students that went on to be good pharmacists, and any time a patient thanks you for what you do for them, well, it doesn’t get any better than that.
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Sam Blakemore IMG_1742 is the Pharmacy Manager of Peds Rx Pharmacy Solutions. Connect with him via: LinkedIn Support the effort and PURCHASE MERCH.

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Profiles in Pharmacy — a conversation with Brad Schmidt, PharmD — 10/01/2018

October is American Pharmacist Month. Every October comes and goes, and typically I’ve never celebrated this fact when it comes to Pharmacy. I always liked Halloween parties, but never discussed Pharmacy much outside of the Pharmacy.  Only in the past few years have I thought about purchasing food for my staff and/or honoring a fellow Pharmacist with kind words and acknowledgement about our shared calling and responsibilities to the communities that we serve through the practice of pharmacy. I remember discussing Pharmacist Month in school vaguely, but it never really was on my radar.

A few weeks ago, I thought — wouldn’t it be cool if I could interview some pharmacists that I respect and do a brief profile of their careers to celebrate their accomplishments and acknowledge openly my appreciation to what they’ve given to the profession. Simply stated..how can we as a profession move our profession forward if we never discuss our admiration for each other, and/or discuss openly how to create a more open dialogue about how to create a fair market for both consumers and the practicing pharmacist.

Over the next month, I hope to profile up to 8 Pharmacists. Each profile will consist of an interview and picture of the Pharmacist in their practice setting. I hope you as the reader gain an appreciation for the art and science of pharmacy and the people who encompass our profession.

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Our first Profile in Pharmacy is of Brad Schmidt, PharmD

Brad graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2001 with his Doctor of Pharmacy. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from Gustavus Adolphus College in 1995. He is the Staff Pharmacist for Peds Rx Pharmacy Solutions and has been my work partner at the Pharmacy since we opened in September 2013. 

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Sam:  How did you come about pharmacy? 

Brad: I grew up in a small town — thought about becoming a physician — then got more interested in chemistry when I went off to college — I ended up talking to my local pharmacist in town and got more into the profession from there.

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Sam: Can you please describe your career path and what you’ve done during your career and please don’t be modest.  
Brad: I got out of pharmacy school — I floated in a retail chain for a while — but, I really didn’t find that rewarding or something I enjoyed (CVS Pharmacy 1 year). So, once an opportunity to work at a pediatric outpatient pharmacy came about I took it (Children’s of Alabama 7 years). Some years went by when I wanted to try something different, so I found a job as a Clinical Pharmacist at UAB (1 year). Then I left that position and took a job doing mail order (CVS 2 years). Mail order was a nice hourly job that was family conducive, but then the facility closed down. Then I moved onto working in Home Infusion (Walgreen Home Infusion 2 years). Then in 2013 we met, and I’ve been at Peds Rx for the past 5 years (Pediatric Outpatient Pharmacy for Children’s of Alabama).  So all in all, I have 12 years of pediatric outpatient pharmacy experience. I do like different things, I like changes, and I never wanted to do the same thing for 30 years — so I’ve always believed that you never know your true passion until you try something. Thus, I’ve tried different things over the years. 
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Sam: What does your family think you do at work
Brad: Well my wife, she’s a pharmacist, so she understands what I do.  In regards to the dispensing role, she understands that we are a resource for information for the hospital, and help patients get their medications situated for discharge from the hospital, do prior authorizations and overrides, and overall increase access for patients to receive appropriate pharmaceutical care… so that’s my wife…
But Everyone else in my family thinks I just count drugs and make kids feel better. 
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Sam: How do you see the future of pharmacy practice in the next 20 years
Brad: I see pharmacists as being dispensers being phased out — and more medication therapy management reviews like whats being done with Medicare Part D.. I see the role of technology increasing — remote dispensing will continue to push forward — more centralization of pharmacy with Amazon and Big Chains. Less corner store drug stores — less chain stores and more automation with central pharmacies. Independents will continue to fill the void with a niche market. 
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Sam: Is being a Pharmacist what you thought it would be
Brad: I would probably say umm… I would say starting off yes, but after practicing for 18 years — things have changed — there’s less focus on the patients and things have become more number driven. The scope of practice ( clinical positions) isn’t what I expected. Which is good. Residencies were just starting when I was graduating but now most of the graduates look into residencies now. The thing that surprised me is that it’s become less patient focused with the financial pressures due to the market constraints that has created a barrier for entry to the little guy. Which we as pharmacists have to fight for. In school we talk about pharmaceutical care and patient wellness — and in the real world it’s more like fill 500 scripts and just get the work done.. 
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Sam: What do you think of October being American Pharmacists Month?
Brad: Unfortunately I think that most times — maybe only a 1/4 to 1/3 of the places I’ve worked at even celebrated Pharmacists month — most of management, patients, and even the parents didn’t know about Pharmacists Month.  And even within the profession there’s not a lot of recognition. Only 25 to 30 percent of the time have I received a thank you or been given recognition for Pharmacists Month. 
Overall I’m glad it’s there, but in reality it’s not as recognized as some of the other professions. We’re not a very organized profession — we’re divided in some ways and because of this there’s division in how we celebrate the month. The nursing association and medical associations bring about the importance of their professions — but when was the last time our association did something to recognize the profession through something like a commercial. The month comes and goes and we go to work and go home. But hopefully as the years go forward we will become more organized and united for the month of October. 
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Sam: What would you tell a new grad?
Brad: Since they already graduate then it’s too late 😉 laughter… 
There’s a lot of opportunities out there — the PharmD degree has many opportunities and there’s a lot of diversity within the profession — thus there’s alot of things to be involved in and ways with which you can be challenged. I tell new grads to always take your time in the final check and always go with your gut instincts and don’t get distracted during that final verification step. Pharmacy is a small world so don’t ever burn bridges.  Even if you don’t like someone part peacefully. Don’t burn bridges — pharmacy is a small world. 
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Sam: How must pharmacy school change to keep up with the changes taking place in the workplace and the business market? 
Brad: They are definitely focusing on residency and clinical opportunities — unfortunately they have gotten away from the traditional roles which has caused a bit of a learning deficit. They’re beginning to lack some of the basic skills of pharmacy practice, like understanding dosage forms, etc.. Which causes the newly practicing pharmacist to not immediately understand how to dispense or compound. 
In terms of the business side — the schools hurt the profession a bit. From 2001-2005 they added pharmacy schools and in 2009 during the recession the job market became tighter. Thus, from a business standpoint the market has become slightly over saturated with pharmacists. 
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Sam: Is there anything you would like to add?  
Brad: Only thing I would like to add, is that I’m proud to be a Pharmacist, I’m proud to have made relationships with Patients and staff — but as far as moving forward we need to be more united as a profession and have organization and be united. The times have changed — and we must be united. If we don’t carve out our niche in the new world we could be wiped out as a profession. We need to come together so that we’re not eaten up.. 
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Sam Blakemore IMG_1742 is the Pharmacy Manager of Peds Rx Pharmacy Solutions. Connect with him via: LinkedIn Support the effort and PURCHASE MERCH.
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Session 2 — August 1, 2018 — Last Class Session

Congratulations on being complete!

Session 2 was successful. Six students completed this non-credit course and did well. They are now prepared to become registered pharmacy technicians and begin the process of becoming functional/capable assistants to practicing Pharmacists in a community pharmacy setting.

The final session consisted of talking, encouragement, and a review of the Session 2 — Final Exam.

Review the Audio of this Session: 

The final day of class we took pictures:

If you enjoyed this session please continue to follow my blog and share your reviews of the lecture materials. Review Session 2 Materials if you would like to have a RECAP. T-Shirts commemorating this session are available for purchase on Amazon.com. BUY MERCH — T-SHIRTS SOLD on AMAZON

Lastly, the highlight of the session is when the students took over and became the teachers of the material — that really shows their passion and grasp of the material covered. Check it out yourself!

 

Thanks again for the memories and congratulations to those that completed the session!

August 1st 2018 😉

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Sam Blakemore IMG_1742 is the Pharmacy Manager of Peds Rx Pharmacy Solutions. Connect with him via: LinkedIn Support the effort and PURCHASE MERCH.

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Session 2 June/July Lecture Series

Ready for Session 2? 

Session 2 — “Ready 2 Work” Pharmacy Technician Syllabus

Session 2 — June 14, 2018 — Lecture 1

Session 2 — Quiz 1 & Quiz 2

Preparation for Quiz 3 and lecture on July 5th 2018

Session 2 — Quiz 3 — July 5, 2018

Session 2 — July 5, 2018 — Lecture 4

Session 2 — July 12, 2018 — Lecture 5

Session 2 — July 17, 2018 — Lecture 6

Session 2 — Quiz 5 — July 17, 2018

Session 2 — July 18, 2018 — Lecture 7

Session 2—July 26, 2018—Final Exam Review

Session 2 — July 31, 2018 — Final Exam

Session 2 — August 1, 2018 — Last Class Session

MERCH T-shirts Selling NOW!!! —

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BUY MERCH — T-SHIRTS SOLD on AMAZON

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Sam Blakemore is the Pharmacy Manager of Peds Rx Pharmacy Solutions. Connect with him via: LinkedIn