The rumors were flying in my hospital. The pharmacy was going to be outsourced. That meant an outside company would be running the pharmacy. We would still be housed in the hospital, but an outside company would be in-charge.
This was not the first time one of my hospital’s departments became outsourced. In fact, this was the third. This was all the brainchild of the Chief Operating Officer (COO). He was a big proponent of outsourcing. He saw it as a way for the hospital to shed salaries and other expenses.
Both the fitness center and the housekeeping department were already outsourced. The pharmacy was going to be third.
The outsourced company could do pretty much anything. I’m not sure what the contract between the hospital and the outsourced company said, but I’m certain that the outsourced company had the freedom to do what they wanted. They could eliminate jobs, change rules and procedures, and run the pharmacy as they saw fit.
From the hospital’s viewpoint, it was a money maker. The outsourced company would assume the payroll and benefit dollars of the employees. The outsourced company would assume all or a percentage of the drug budget. The outsourced company would also pay the monthly leasing fees on the pharmacy equipment.
It was a win-win situation for everyone. Except for me and my staff. We were not looking forward to being outsourced. The reason why? Regardless of what was being promised, we knew our jobs were in jeopardy.
In the six jobs that I worked in my career, five of them ended abruptly and unpleasantly. With two of them, the place closed. One of them was outsourced and I lost my job. With two of them, I was asked to resign.
I was out of a job several times during my career. It’s not the most pleasant thing. I was also very lucky. I quickly bounced back each time and found another job.
I learned a lot after each job ended. I picked up some tips from each unfortunate experience. I also learned from my mistakes, so I wouldn’t make them again.
1. It’s not your fault
I worked in my hospital for more than ten years. I started as a Team Leader and was eventually promoted to Pharmacy Manager. During my tenure, I managed over 55 staff members. I addressed survey issues from the Joint Commission, the Department of Health, and the Board of Pharmacy. I introduced new equipment and projects. I also implemented many new procedures.
I received countless exceptional evaluations and got raves from administration, vice-presidents, and many other managers.
After ten years, an outside group was brought in to run the pharmacy. At that time, I was asked to resign.
I felt awful at first. I wondered why a major outsourcing company wouldn’t want someone with my talents. But I wasn’t going to dwell on it. I was going to accentuate my skills, highlight my successes, and move on to my next opportunity.
2. Get out fast
My friend worked as a pharmacist for a major chain pharmacy. My friend had worked there for several months, but he and his boss (she) did not see eye to eye.
It was little things. She didn’t like how he answered the phone. She thought my friend was too messy.
The boss expected my friend to spend more time with the customers, even though it was very busy in the back. She wouldn’t let my friend bring his coffee into the prescription department (even though other workers could). She also thought my friend’s weekly reports were done poorly.
After writing him up several times, my friend was terminated. But not immediately. My friend was told that he had the option of staying to the end of the quarter. Then he would be let go.
Although my friend was not happy about being terminated, he was pleased with this arrangement. He would work for two more months in the pharmacy. He would be getting benefits and salary. Maybe he’d even find another job and leave before the quarter was up.
What my friend didn’t realize was that the boss was really using him. She would try to get as much out of him as she could. She really didn’t have a replacement for him when she initially wanted to let him go (a mistake on her part). So she kept him around, while she searched for a new pharmacist.
After two weeks, the boss found a new pharmacist. He could start that afternoon. They called my friend into the office and let him go immediately.
I’ve never seen any benefit to staying in a place that doesn’t want you. Perhaps you can buy some time, but remember you are at their mercy. The place has the advantage and can get rid of you at any time. Thus, it is imperative to leave as quickly as possible.
3. It’s over
I’ve had five of the jobs in my career end. I was quite fortunate. I saw it coming. I knew it was going to end. It was over. Maybe not tomorrow or the next day. But it would be over soon. Nothing was going to change it and bring it back.
Sometimes it was the way administrator or vice-presidents acted. They were distant or too secretive. Or sometimes they were too friendly.
These people were always too busy to meet one-on-one with me. Often when I saw them in the hall, they walk right by me. They wouldn’t even say “hello”.
But it wasn’t only administration. It was other things as well. Bills weren’t getting paid. Sometimes the pharmacy was on credit hold with my wholesaler or major pharmaceutical companies. Although I was creative in procuring drugs from other sources, it became tougher to get the drugs.
So, it was my fault! I didn’t cause the credit hold by not paying the vendors. Yet, I was in-charge of the pharmacy, so when the drugs weren’t there, I was the one to blame.
But the biggest scenario involved my clinical pharmacist. Originally my pharmacy didn’t have a clinical pharmacist. But I fought to get one, because I knew it would help reduce drug costs.
Eventually they allowed me to hire one. But only on a three-month trial basis. If she didn’t reduce drug costs in a three-month period, she would be gone. But I was certain, she would reduce drug costs and her position would become permanent.
At the end of the three-month period, I found out that my clinical pharmacist’s position did become permanent. However, I found out this news from my staff. My vice-president had seen some staff members in the hallway and let them know.
I was obviously being left out of the chain-of-command protocol. I knew then that my days were numbered.
Once I realized that they were getting rid of me, I also realized that they weren’t going to change their mind. Even if I did something really spectacular (which I wasn’t), they still would have gotten rid of me. Thus, I needed to turn my talents elsewhere and address other areas of importance.
I’ve always considered myself a very loyal person to the job. I’ve always given 150%. I’ve tried to go above and beyond; do whatever it takes to make the job (and facility) successful.
Thus, the minute I find it’s over and that I may be out of a job, my entire position shifts. At that point it’s all about me. That’s where the focus is now. I do whatever it takes to best suit my needs.
B. Take what you can
I worked for several years in my hospital pharmacy. During that time, I compiled many reports and prepared many projects. I submitted budgets and presented monthly statistics. I worked with colleagues on quality assurance materials and provided end-of-the year data. Throughout my ten years of service, I kept binders and files filled with hard copies. I also saved everything in the computer.
There’s always been a question of ownership of work material. I find it a little unfair. I feel that all the reports, projects, handouts, and papers are mine (since I created them). The facility, on the other hand, has a policy which states that the work-related documents belong to them.
Furthermore, when I leave (for whatever reason), I am not entitled to originals or even copies of any of these materials.
Needless to say, it may prove to be advantageous to have copies of these documents when one leaves the establishment. Thus, the moment one knows he is about to depart, one may wish to make copies of these documents. For one may not get a chance in the future.
C. Don’t sabotage
They terminated my boss. They were trying to be compassionate, though. They were allowing him to stay to the end of the month.
If the first few days were any indication, it was going to be a very long month.
It was bad enough with his presence in the department. He sat around doing nothing, deflected problems, and spoke badly about administration.
Then things began to happen. Unpleasant things; really bad things. First, various reference books and files disappeared from his office. Then certain programs were deleted from the computer. Finally, employee passwords were eliminated from the IV room technology system.
I didn’t want to do it, but I felt that I had no choice. I informed my vice-president. My boss was terminated immediately.
As previously explained, the taking of reports and documents is generally not permitted. However, the sabotaging of systems is totally uncalled for. It is improper, unjustified, and downright wrong. Furthermore, it quite often results in additional termination penalties.
D. If you don’t want me, you can’t have me
I knew they were going to get rid of me. I also knew when. Friday afternoon. That when I would have done it. Let the person work the entire week. Then on Friday afternoon, call them into the office and let them go.
I had worked very closely with the IT vice-president. We were deciding on a new piece of technology for the pharmacy. We worked very hard in evaluating many devices and we came up with a decision.
He didn’t know it at the time, but it no longer mattered to me. I surely wasn’t going to do anything to jeopardize the project. However, with me leaving, my interest was no longer there.
The vice-president left me a voice message on Wednesday. “We” had a meeting with the CFO on the following Monday. He wanted to know if I could write up a cost justification for the new equipment. He needed it by Thursday.
After many years as a pharmacy manager, I’ve always considered myself quite knowledgeable in the pharmacy field. Furthermore, I’ve always been quite capable of putting together a report using statistics, data, and charts to illustrate a positive return of investment.
But I’ve always subscribed to my personal philosophy, “If you don’t want me, then you can’t have me.” This means that if I am not part of your future, then I am not about to perform tasks to ensure your future. (Because I’m not part of it!)
Although it wasn’t official, I was pretty certain that Friday was my last day. There would be no advantage for me to compile the information. It would only benefit them. Thus, I was not about to embark on preparing a detailed report only to get canned after I handed it in.
I made some excuse to the vice-president that I couldn’t have the report by Thursday. However, I would work on it over the weekend and have it ready for Monday’s meeting. I was let go on Friday afternoon. I did not know what happened afterwards.
4. Resume hints
After the first time I lost my job, I always kept my resume updated. I was ready to send it out on a moment’s notice.
I am well-versed on the hints on how to craft a good resume. Here are a couple of lesser known tips.
Even though they all involved some aspect of pharmacy, I’ve had three very different types of positions. I was a manager, an instructor, and a career services representative.
My job functions were different for each role. Thus, I had three separate resumes. I would emphasize the tasks and slant the resume to fit the position that I was applying for.
I’ve often been amazed about how many people only have one resume. Especially since it’s so easy to compose multiple ones on a computer. What’s more, individuals send out their one particular resume regardless of whether or not it’s a fit for the job. I don’t know why more people don’t slant their resume when applying for a position.
I’ve always known it’s important to choose a proper email. Don’t select emails such as “sexyperson” or “happyface” to appear on the top of your resume.
But I’ve also never used my name as my personal email. Now I know many companies use some version of the employees name, followed by the business. However, for resumes I do not advise using one’s name. Thus, I’ve never used [email protected] on my resume.
The reason is simple. There are websites where I can post my resume, but not include my personal information. This is important when I want my resume available, but don’t want my employer or others to know that I’m looking for another job.
However, with some postings, the website will block your name, address, and phone number. BUT they will leave you email intact. So a resume will not have any personal information listed except for an email that reads “[email protected]”. In this case, it will be very easy for many employers and others to determine whose resume this is.
Thus, it is better to use a more obscure, but professional email (ie. [email protected]) on a resume.
In a previous article, I lambasted the credibility that society puts on a candidate’s references.
First, we ask the candidate to supply us with names of people who are going to say wonderful things about them. Then, we base whether we’re going to hire the candidate on what these references have to say. Is this the most ludicrous thing you’ve ever heard?
Nevertheless, in today’s society we value the reference’s comments. My Human Resources recruiter was very diligent when it came to contacting references. She would spend many hours calling or texting these individuals.
I always wanted to make certain that when my references received a call that they would call back promptly. For there were many candidates whose hiring was delayed, because their references never returned the call.
Therefore, when I was seeking employment, I performed the following two tasks to ensure my references called back promptly.
I always asked my references if I could give out their cell number. This is far better than the office number or a secretary’s phone number since any call will go directly to my references.
I always told my references where I had interviewed and who might be calling them. Thus, when I interviewed at XYZ Pharmacy with Jane at 555-123-4567, I gave my references this information. Then, when my reference saw XYZ Pharmacy or 555-123-4567 on their cell phone, they were more likely to answer it.
The very first time that I was out of work, I told no one. I was embarrassed. I felt ashamed. It felt that it was my fault (even though it wasn’t).
It was extremely difficult going out in public. If I went to a restaurant or mall, I felt self-conscious. I thought everyone would be looking at me. They would be wondering why I wasn’t working.
However, by my fifth time, I often sent copies of my resume to my friends. I told them to share these resumes with anyone they wanted.
I contacted people and networked with them. I didn’t ask them for a job (even though I wanted to), but instead tried to build a relationship with them. This, I hoped, would eventually lead to a job.
I also tried contacting people through several social networks. Some individuals find these networks to by very successful. However, I didn’t have much luck with them. I didn’t find them very beneficial.
When looking for a job, my mantra changed over the years. It started with “keeping quiet”. Then it migrated “to getting my name out there and letting everyone know.”
If this were twenty or thirty years ago, then this would be unusual. But in today’s world, I’ve found that many people are out of work (for whatever reason) at least 2 or 3 times during their career.
What’s more, this is not always the fault of the person. Quite often, places close or relocate, companies become acquired or outsourced, employees get laid off, and positions become eliminated. Unfortunately, good people do lose their job.
I was very lucky. Many times, I saw it coming. I was able to accomplish many things before my final day.
However, even when I didn’t realize it in advance, I relied on the key points that I discussed. These allowed me to form a strategy and calculate my next move.
Daniel Shifrin, R.P., M.S. is a recently retired pharmacist who enjoys sharing his insights about hospital pharmacy. He is proud to own one of the largest collections of Pharmacy Stamp First Day Covers.