Rachel Prescott felt like she'd been hit by a bus every night after her shift. At the time, she was a pharmacy manager working 95 hours every two weeks in a high-volume store with regular turnover.
The self-proclaimed "fixer" exhausted every possible effort to make her work environment positive, productive, and profitable - until she decided enough is enough.
She took a leap of faith with The Happy PharmD - her "Hail Mary" as she calls it - and rejuvenated her career beyond her wildest dreams. Here's her story.
My first day as a pharmacy manager was one I'll never forget. Not only was our store bought out, but our volume increased 42 percent overnight, and without additional help.
We handled 600 scripts and 40 flu shots per day, and I was the only pharmacist on staff. I worked with a handful of pharmacy technicians with different skills.
Pharmacy techs aren't easy to manage. One or two will know what they're doing and can handle the work. However $13.50 an hour isn't enough money for the type of work techs are doing, and there's a lot of turnovers.
"I Felt Hopeless, Stuck… Like I Got Hit by a Bus"
Pharmacy took a toll on my family. All my husband would hear about was how miserable I was. Even though I was off every other weekend, I was always on-call. I regularly worked 95 hours despite getting paid for 80.
I am a mother of triplets, but my patience wore thin after being put through the wringer every day. When you get off a shift feeling like you got hit by a bus, you don't feel like taking your kids to the park, or just going out and doing something.
I felt hopeless and stuck.
Trying to build a team that could meet demands while keeping employees, customers, and corporate happy was crazy and exhausting.
My lifecycle was severely messed up, but Walgreens was all that I knew. I had $56,000 in student loans. I didn't want to flush money down the toilet, but I nearly didn't care anymore.
"I Had $56,000 in Loans and Needed a Hail Mary."
I'm a fixer and very hard on myself. I thought I could turn things around if I worked hard enough. I hired a solid staff with six people, but I was continually hiring because technicians don't get paid enough to get cussed out every day. Then I spent time developing engagement activities and being appreciative.
I'd implement KPIs and set goals. Whenever we met goals, I spent my own money on incentives and chart it. I repeated goals to see if we could consistently meet performance, or if the success was a fluke.
I was pretty proactive by most standards, but you can only be in so many places at one time. I couldn't be the only pharmacist on duty and properly manage doctor calls, cancel patients, answer phones, perform data review, and verify prescriptions. I couldn't do that by myself.
Burned out, yet still proactive, I reached out to my district manager. I sent him an email, detailing my desire to move to a store with better hours that was closer to home. I even explained the importance of this as a mother.
He sent a one-line rejection.
That's when enough was enough.
I applied to every position in the TriState area. The only job I received an interview for only offered two shifts a month.
I figured I had a few options. I could sell shirts on Etsy, become a garbage collector, perhaps live in a cardboard box…
I convinced myself that all I needed was to get more antidepressants and deal with it.
The Happy PharmD was my Therapy
I didn't know what I would do. The idea of getting a teaching certificate started to appeal to me. Being a high school chemistry teacher was a walk in the park compared to where I was
Then I discovered The Happy PharmD, which led me to career coaching.
I had $56,000 in student loans. The Happy PharmD was my Hail Mary, a way to save my career before flushing money down the toilet.
I choose The Happy PharmD because I knew that an experienced pharmacist would be my coach. My husband's worked with consultants, but none were pharmacists. They were great people, but communicating with them was hard. They don't get us, or what our lives are like as pharmacists.
Working with Alex was like therapy.
I knew I wasn't happy. What I didn't realize was how unhappy I was. My big realization was that I had no passion for pharmacy. I was doing my job to survive.
We also discovered that I was interested in talking to people about infertility, but I didn't think I was capable of making it happen, so I chalked it up as a pipe dream.
Alex helped me realize that I put limits on myself. I told myself that I wasn't good enough to do anything else but retail. I was my own worst enemy because I told myself, I'm Rachel from Walgreens. Why even try?
There was a moment where I realized: I can get out. I don't have to make the most of the situation. I can CHANGE the situation because I've seen that people have changed their situation.
Cerebrally, we all know this, however, we're conditioned to believe that we're stuck where we are. You believe that you can only do this, or that you're just "unhappy because you're an unhappy person." (That's what I overheard someone say about me.)
It wasn't just me being unhappy. It was the situation. Once I acknowledged my capability to do other things, I took action.
"My Life is Totally Different Today"
I drop my kids off at preschool from 8:30 to 8:45 AM, then head to work. I currently work at a compounding/nuclear pharmacy. My role is to bring fresh ideas to revamp our front end - and the company is doing more OTC sales than they've ever done before!
There initially wasn't a position for this. I created it myself, because of who I knew, and because I have a lot of ideas. My husband is the owner, and he's been there for 20 years, but the moment I got in, I came with a bunch of ideas.
- We're selling head back strap products
- We're making a push for bioidentical hormone therapies and CRT kits
- We're charging for consultations and creating new revenue streams
We had meetings with creative groups to refresh our website and make sure all the links worked. We created cash-only operations. I am now the key liaison between the marketing and pharmacy sides to make sure our advertising is compliant.
We've even added metrics, which is something the company didn't have before. But instead of having insane, hard to reach metrics, we have a middle ground that works for us.
The difference in my life is night and day. I haven't been yelled at in 3 months.
People listen to my ideas and back them and help me implement them. It's challenging because it's a whole new world - in a good way.
Another great thing is being able to teach people their value. For example, my husband. I had to teach him that his time was valuable.
My husband used to give away his time whenever he provided free lab reports for the doctors who sold and profited from his kits. They'd send him the labs, and he'd create the reports for their patients - and he'd do it all for free! I had to teach him that his time and expertise were valuable enough for people to pay for - and encourage him to charge for it.
I confess that I still struggle with Imposter Syndrome because I don't know anything about compounding or marketing. But I'm proving to myself that I'm an intelligent person. I'm learning more, attending more seminars, and reading more books.
My husband and I work together, but it's not overwhelming. We get off at 4, pick the kids up, and get to enjoy each other. We're no longer ships passing in the night. It's a whole new world in a good way.
"You're Not Crazy, Lazy, or Unhappy. It's As Bad as You Think It Is"
Pharmacists don't have hope in their work environments because we're conditioned to think that anything we think is wrong. The pharmacy environment is full of people who
You've got a strong work ethic, and I applaud that. You have to have one, especially if you're a pharmacist. However, you're reading this for a reason. It's as bad as you think it is.
You're not lazy or crazy. You're cynical, irritated, and exhausted. You're struggling to maintain your peace of mind while you search for the cheat code to pharmacy and work/life balance.
Don't shove it down. Take action. You deserve what you desire. Don't second guess it.
You can walk into work as many times as you like, thinking you're going to walk in and change things, but it might not happen. And if it doesn't, it's neither your fault nor responsibility if your health, wealth, and happiness are on the line.
Do anything you think you need to get out of your situation. Invest in yourself, and get a coach to help you strategize the next steps in your life and career.
There are so many people who don't believe they have a lot to bring to the table. You may be one of those people. If you are, please listen.
You're worth it.
You know enough to know that you don't know everything, but you underestimate how much you actually do know. You have to know you're the expert and own the confidence within you to lead yourself.
There's nothing in the world you can do without confidence. And I found it. The Happy PharmD showed me that I am intelligent, that I can pull things off, and that I am the expert, no matter how I feel.
Your next job doesn't have to be your end-all, be-all. It can be your lilypad to move forward.
This is not about you submitting one application and getting your dream job. It's about making a confident decision to take control of your health, wealth, and happiness.
You can do this.
Alex is the Founder of The Happy PharmD. He loves anime, his family, and video games, but not in that order.