Just Another Day at the Pharmacy

October 7, 2008
By Jovin Panthapattu, Congers, NY

The printer hummed behind my back, and I turned back to see a long strand of bright yellow paper coming out. I rushed to it and neatly tore the perforated yellow stickers and read the instructions. I soon began to look for a matte blue bin at the top of the shelf.
Just as I was about to reach into the bin, a dark shadow of a tall figure said, “That’s the right one, Jovin.” I recognized the voice while filling a clear plastic bag with the materials listed on the sticker. I replied, “I’m all right at this task. It’s just filling the right doses of pills.” I looked at the printer again, and it looked like a volcano of stickers had erupted. I separated each sticker and read, “Percocet” and I knew that this one would be discarded in the Confidential Documents Only bin because it was a narcotic. Pride arose in my heart as I quickly distinguished control drugs from non-control, and formulary from non-formulary ones. These crucial experiences at the pharmacy made me further develop an interest in the ever-expanding field of medicine and health care. I no longer skipped those boring drug commercials because they all started to make sense, and they made me even more aware of the drugs available to the world today.
“Jovin, come here,” said the chemo-pharmacist. I entered the IV Room strapped in a gown, wearing a “bootie” over my shoes and a head covering that looked like a French beret. After carefully observing her do a myriad of tasks in chemo compounding, she thoroughly explained the process of making the drug. “All done,” she said, and asked me to accompany her to the Oncology Department. As I heard the pharmacist slowly unveiling the failure of the chemo treatment to the patient’s children, I began to weep. I wasn’t even related to the patient. I felt like I was in the children’s position, and I knew it would be unbearable if I heard news like this about my relatives. After seeing the cancer patients, a melancholic feeling replaced the cheery smile that I once had. Another lesson learned: In order to succeed at this profession, one has to set aside personal feelings or otherwise one will become too closely attached to the patients.
Back at the pharmacy, I had finished all the tasks. I rapidly began to put away returned pills, and fill clear orange vials with solutions. Stacking countless newly arrived cardboard boxes on the beige shelves was my last task. “Jovin, it’s four o’clock,” said one pharmacist, and I realized it was time for me to go. I had done a lot that day from filling pills and shadowing pharmacists to helping pharmacy technicians. I couldn’t believe that eight hours went by so fast. I guess time goes so quickly when you learn from experience, and have fun. At least, I did.

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