Published On: Sat, Sep 8th, 2012

Pharmacists are lazy

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If you are reading this piece because of the screaming headline, then I have achieved my aim. Let me release the first disclaimer: I am not saying pharmacists are lazy, all I wanted to do was to grab your attention, and if you are still reading then, you might as well finish what you started.

In the past few weeks, I have been travelling across the continent, facilitating service excellence sessions for retail pharmacists and their staff. In addition, I have been having exclusive sessions with retail pharmacy groups at the level of ACPN state and zonal chapters, leading them through the essence of understanding the business side of their practice. Even though what I teach seems basic and rudimentary, the response I get at all sessions is essentially the same. A feeling of shock and despair is what I get when the audience discovers they have actually been running their businesses at a loss. The reason is usually not farfetched. As Pharmacists, we are not sufficiently trained to be business people. As Michael Gerber, author of E-Myth Revisited aptly describes us: we are not entrepreneurs but simply professionals, suffering from an entrepreneurial seizure. We therefore find ourselves constantly working in our businesses rather than on our businesses. I make bold to say that retail pharmacists are probably the most hardworking sub set of the pharmacy profession; however they do not seem to be well remunerated at all. This is simply because the basic fundamentals of running a business are usually missing in their businesses.

I can confidently say that once these fundamentals are put in place, their businesses will soar to the skies. You may wonder why I have so much confidence in these businesses. Ask yourself: when last did you go to the hospital? When last did you go to the Pharmacy? People go to the Pharmacy at least 5 times more than they go to the hospital. This shows us that there is huge opportunity in the sector. While I won’t deny that there are challenges in this sector, I can also confirm there is great prosperity in this sector. So, when I look at retail pharmacists, I can beat my chest to say they are not lazy. However, I cannot say the same for players in the industrial sector. There have been repeated complaints in this sector, especially among the young and upcoming pharmacists. It is common knowledge that if you employ a pharmacist and a biological sciences graduate on the same day, giving them the same conditions of service and working tools, the non pharmacist would most likely outperform  the pharmacist. I have tried to do a root cause analysis of this issue, and I have found out that it is simply because a pharmacist always has job options.

Unfortunately, this intrinsic advantage of the pharmaceutical profession has suddenly become its biggest disadvantage. Young pharmacists no longer strive to put in their best, simply because they know they can easily get another job. Rather than leverage the freedom this brings, these pharmacists become nonchalant and lackadaisical in their attitude to work. When you combine this lackadaisical attitude displayed in the industry to the entrepreneurial seizure suffered in the retail sector, coupled with the chronic civil service mentality that pervades most hospital pharmacies, one is tempted to agree that pharmacists are lazy, but I beg to disagree vehemently. I have spoken to a number of pharmacists across the length and breadth of the country and I know most of them are ready to take up the challenge, if only they know how; hence the need to constantly build capacity. This capacity building approach should go beyond the classroom method employed at the MCPD. We should go further by beginning to target specific industry groups with the relevant information needed for their growth. Mentoring and coaching should be actively introduced to quickly up-skill colleagues for the challenges of modern day business. If we do this, things will surely change for the better.

Are you interested? Why not start by attending the 4th annual retail pharmacy business summit tagged PANEL 4, coming up on the 18th of October, 2012 at the NECA house in Alausa, Lagos. For reservations, text 08033379541. Join us as we shyne!

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Pharmacists are lazy