Apparently a status I posted on Facebook last Thursday has freaked a few people out. I assure you that I am fine, just dealing with some stress from having to find a new job. On Thursday I heard from a company that I interviewed with that they were looking in another direction while also getting a call from a recruiter to let me know he didn’t have any open positions that I was qualified for. On the long drive back from a open mic over bad roads through single digit temperatures while coming off a stage high I took some time to think about life, and what I saw wasn’t very pleasant. I realized that it is probably just a manifestation of the winter blues and the valentines blues and the job search blues and whatever other type of blues I have dredged up on a cold and lonely winter drive, but I took it to Facebook.
I am not trying to feel sorry for myself or looking for pity but am taking a moment to be truthful. Facebook isn’t normally a venue for truth, it is more of a greatest hits of high points and low points from everyone. I had hoped that telling the truth about how I feel in a honest and straightforward way would give people a glimpse of what is going on in my life, apparently instead it made people worry about me. That was not my intent, and in fact I feel embarrassed that people might view me as a whiner, trust me I am not sitting in my room listening to emo and crying. I also wanted to sincerely thank people for enjoying the content that I put out there, getting that positive feedback inspires me to reach further. I do appreciate the outpouring of support and kind words, they are a constant reminder that people are looking out for me.
During January I got official word that my pharmacy will be closing on March 31st. I have known that this was going to be the final conclusion after months of deliberation, in fact I support the decision, but it is still a bit of a slap in the face. I ran the numbers and laid out the list of reasons of why we should shut down, and it was possibly the most professionally humiliating thing that I have ever done. Luckily for me comedy has made me pretty good at analyzing failures and trying to find the bright side. The bright side is that I can take the skills that I have learned from this new experience and apply them to my next stop on the career carousel.
I realize that I wasn’t fully happy running the Long Term Care pharmacy, but I was willing to keep at it because of the lifestyle that it provided me. During the summer of 2013 I was relatively happy working retail as a pharmacy manager while working per diem at the hospital. The plan was to open a long term care pharmacy and have a technician run it with limited support from the inpatient pharmacists. While the technician was extremely competent and worked flat out getting things running the lack of pharmacist oversight made it an unsustainable model and allowed things to fall through the cracks. I came on as a 0.9 full time pharmacist in September after cutting down to per diem in retail. I was ok taking a big pay cut, getting rid of my prime source of per diem income, and moving because I was able to get a better schedule where I wouldn’t have to deal with 12 hour days or working weekends. I took full advantage of the situation and was able to try a bunch of new things and make a lot of progress on the personal front. I wasn’t really qualified for the position, but as always I picked up what I needed to do and after 6 months things were running smooth. Unfortunately for as much good as we were doing and as many good operations and patient care steps as we were making the financial rules that we were working under were about to change. We did a self audit and found that instead of saving the hospital system a boatload of money we were instead losing money. And the goal of all organizations is to make money, the alternative can’t be tolerated in today’s poorly reimbursed healthcare system.
Once word came down what to expect I started getting my resume together and facing the fact that despite my wealth of experience the amount of bouncing around I have done in the past 5 years makes me look unreliable. 2 major pharmacy chains, 1 big box chain, 1 long term care pharmacy, 2 years of hospital per diem, 1 year of large chain per diem, and 6 months of per diem at an independent, all in less than 5 years is impressive and scary. I know that I have great references and a bunch of people who will speak well of me, which is important within such a small field, and I know that I can ace any interview, but my resume may scare prospective employers off. I put out a few select resumes in the beginning, UVM Medical Center was my first choice, and almost 2 months later I haven’t heard a peep. A long term care pharmacy was looking for someone, but then the person decided not to leave, so a position that I was perfectly suited for isn’t open. My investigation of infusion pharmacy was not the best choice for either me or the pharmacy. And now I am just shotgunning resumes out there looking for something outside the box.
The kicker is that I have a job offer in my back pocket from my previous employer (who I currently work for per diem). It is actually a very good offer, in a town about 15 miles away so I won’t have to move, managing a decent store with a medium/low volume, near unlimited overtime, oh yeah and they are willing to pay me dozens of thousands of dollars more than I currently make. But despite all of the benefits taking this job will be a big step backwards personally and professionally. Clinical services are growing in retail, but they are not yet where they should be, which would be a waste of my talents and the board certification I hope to earn this spring. Personally it would mean stepping back into a world of 12 hour days, working every other weekend, tons of acute stress, and resuming the unhealthy and draining lifestyle that drove me away from retail to begin with.
I developed an analogy to explain it, if you will indulge me. You have the iPhone 5, you have had it for years and realize that it might not be the best, but it works for you. Then one day someone comes along and offers you an iPhone 6, and you jump at the opportunity. You buy the 6, and take the financial hit and move to a place that gets better cell coverage, you get used to it and for a while life is good, not great, but good. Then one day they say “You can’t use your iPhone 6 after March 31st” and you panic because they aren’t going to release the iPhone 7 yet. You start searching through the ranks of Androids and other options out there, only to find that you either aren’t qualified to use them or that you can’t use them in your area, or that they just plain don’t want you. In the end it looks like your only option is to go back to the iPhone 5, which isn’t a bad phone and you know it inside and out, in fact it is the devil that you know, but the idea of moving backwards is the worst feeling out there.
In the end I am lucky, I am young (relatively), unattached, healthy (relatively), free of most commitments, with a great hobby, and a boatload of people that care about me. I have a job offer, a well compensated job offer, with a company that I know and I have a few months to plot my course and try to avoid the pitfalls of retail. If I take the job then I need to do it for at least a couple of years to avoid further bouncing around on my resume, and I need to commit and take steps toward putting down roots in a place where I want to stay. It just sucks to admit defeat and acknowledge that taking a step backwards personally and professionally, but I guess that things could be a whole lot worse. Maybe this time next winter as I am making the long drive and coming off a stage high I will be able to think happier thoughts.