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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

 

 

 

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Session 2 — July 12, 2018 — Lecture 5

Lecture Handout PDF: Errors and Omissions — July 12, 2018

Audio: 

YouTube Video  — produced by Purdue University in regards to “Medication Errors”

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

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Session 2 — July 5, 2018 — Lecture 4

Audio from July 5, 2018 Lecture

Please review Session 2 — Quiz 3 — July 5, 2018 & Preparation for Quiz 3 and lecture on July 5th 2018

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

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Session 2 — Quiz 3 — July 5, 2018

Audio for Session 2 — Lecture 4 — July 5, 2018 will be published next Wednesday July 11, 2018 

Please review Quiz 3

After reviewing this Quiz, please review Session 2 — Quiz 1 & Quiz 2 PDF Documents

Please review the links from the previous post Preparation for Quiz 3 and lecture on July 5th 2018

Keep Studying! This session is almost complete!

For questions please feel free to contact me. Have a great weekend!

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

 

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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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The Good Teacher

Teaching is difficult. Teachers — especially the great teachers, they just don’t receive enough credit. I have actively been teaching a non credit pharmacy technician class the past 8 weeks, while also performing Preceptor duties for 4th year Pharmacy School students.

What have I learned while doing both simultaneously? 

Obviously the biggest difference is that teaching in the community pharmacy is a more hands on experience in that there’s real life scenarios and people versus teaching in the classroom where there’s only the lecturer, student, book, and  white board/chalk board to convey the message.

In the classroom there’s the “audience effect”. You’re lecturing, and you can easily become the only speaker if there’s not a question you give your audience to answer.  Thus, you have to exert more of your body and brain energy into focused segments to convey an effective message.

This burden of energy expenditure being on the speaker/lecturer can be lightened only by actively engaging the student by using the white board, computer, or book to create examples and questions of real life scenarios.

Energy expenditure while teaching in the pharmacy is reduced in comparison to the classroom. The drugs, the patients, the real life scenarios are there to be be used as living examples of why the student must study physiology, pharmacology, infectious disease, pharmaceutics, and so on and so forth.

The student can easily view the drug by going to the shelf. They can learn the pharmacology and use of the drug by simply looking at the package insert that comes with the drug. They can observe the practicing pharmacist or pharmacy technician and learn from their behaviors, movements, speech, and thought process in working together as a team to produce the appropriate final product. The examples do not have to be created in the pharmacy — because the examples are there to be observed, studied, learned, and memorized for the present and future use with patients that day and the days ahead.

This accumulation of knowledge by the pharmacy student and pharmacy technician while on externship can produce a foundation of knowledge for how to talk, when to talk, when not to talk, and when to act.

First point… Good teaching isn’t a lecture, it’s a conversation.

Second point… Good teachers find common ground with the student — so that the thoughts expressed by the teacher can be easily understood by the student.

Third point…Good teachers find out what their student’s baseline of knowledge is.  By understanding their current knowledge or lack thereof — the Good teacher can elevate and motivate the student to an appropriate and/or desired level of competency.

Conclusion — I have a long way to go in becoming identified as one of the “good teachers”. However, I’ve identified these three points too consider while playing this role.

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