Like most people, I began working when I was a young teen hoping to have my own money to spend on frivolous stuff I thought I needed. Those jobs — which were not exactly fun or meaningful — came with their pros and certainly many cons.
Working conditions were subpar, especially in a tourist town, because the constant business from open to close would usually result in skipped breaks and smiling through verbal abuse from angry, petty customers.
These jobs were short-term, so having crazy hours and never-ending lines of spoiled children and zombie parents was bearable when you realized you would have a “real” job after school.
When I graduated and started my career...
that is when working conditions and management became a top priority for me as an employee. I even had to leave a career position because it had completely drained me of any mental strength.
I understand what it is like to be in a position that exhausts the body and mind, and I know the frustration and hopelessness that inevitably follows mistreatment within the workplace.
You cannot succeed in your profession if you are constantly bombarded with heavy workloads, angry clients, job duties that were never mentioned or agreed upon and management that clearly disregards the employees’ needs.
Recently, I have had multiple conversations with different people about the poor working conditions within health and human services industries.
Specifically the pharmaceutical industry
When I go to my pharmacy to pick up my medications, I assume that the pharmacist must make tons of money and is carelessly happy. After all, they are doctors with a salary, in a position that is secured and probably offers decent health coverage and benefits.
If I had any issues with insurance or my medications, I immediately trusted that the pharmacist had my best interests at heart and would help me find a solution. And they usually followed through with those expectations.
Sometimes, I would encounter bitter and rude pharmacy employees — both technicians and pharmacists — and that made the whole experience substantially different. I would feel like the company only wanted my money and did not give any consideration to whether my medications were correct and safe.
After speaking with one of my closest friends — who is just starting her career as a pharmacist — I have been appalled at the stories of how horrible some companies can be to their pharmacy staff.
One specific corporate giant within the health and pharmacy business seems to carry the worst reputation.
CVS has been a successful and constantly growing company that focuses on wellness and health, especially within the pharmaceutical realm. As a customer, CVS offers the beauty and health items I need, with convenient locations.I briefly used CVS as a pharmacy and was not particularly impressed with their services but did not really expect special treatment. They made mistakes, but everything would quickly be sorted out and I would be on my way.
Talking to my pharmacist friend, working in the pharmacy of CVS is a nightmare. The issues that she encounters as a young professional just starting out in a new state and company are beyond any mistreatment I have endured in my working life.She explained that she works in the busiest area, typically alone or with one other technician.
As the pharmacist, she has many important responsibilities to focus on that techs actually are not certified to do.These can be tedious tasks of taking inventory and checking on incoming scripts and insurance issues. Of course, she also assists in ringing out customers and filling the medication properly.
But, because her store is severely understaffed, she must focus her attention on every aspect of the workload.
This causes longer processing times, an overloading of impatient customers waiting in line at both the counter inside the store and the two drive-through lanes.
She usually works long hours, hardly receives a proper break to eat (or breathe) and rarely has the support from her administration to make the conditions better.
I obviously felt like I needed to figure out the best course of action to back up my friend so that she could demand some changes or find a new company to work for. Seeing an intelligent, hardworking person being treated like a replaceable dollar sign is a hard issue to standby and watch.
But, what could I really do to make a difference?
I support her, listen to her frustrations and push her to remember that she is genuinely incredible at her job. I also decided to research how one would go about filing a formal complaint with the company as an employee but came up with just a few options.However, I did find a huge population of disgruntled and frustrated pharmacy employees — past and present — who cautioned those looking to get into a CVS pharmacy position. A simple Google search of “working for CVS” shows multiple pages of separate sites with threads or reviews just focused on the issues they encountered when they worked for CVS.
On Reddit, entire communities share their horror stories as a pharmacist or tech in the pharmacy and the recurring complaints of long hours, no breaks and understaffing are abundant.More Google searches showed results from Glassdoor, a popular job site that offers information and reviews on companies one may be considering working for. Glassdoor is incredibly helpful if the job or company has been reviewed.Although some reviews need to be considered as suggestions, not absolute facts since the reviews come from former employees. You never know who is telling the truth.When you look at reviews from former and current employees that work in the pharmacy of CVS, the overwhelming consensus is upsetting.
The reviews are mainly negative, many users choosing to remain anonymous.I did not think that working conditions in an established company, with thousands of stores across the nation, would be as terrible as many have said. Working with corporate companies certainly has its drawbacks, but no one should encounter the issues mentioned on such a large scale.What got me really thinking about the issues within CVS was a conversation with a coworker.
She explained that she worked for CVS as a pharmacy technician.
We were not even talking about pharmacy or CVS specifically but sharing stories of the weirdest or meanest customer encounters we have endured.
As soon as I explained that a friend worked as a pharmacist for CVS and the horror stories of angry customers who get upset that their fake prescriptions are denied or unfilled, my coworker instantly looked shocked and mentioned how awful employees at the pharmacy were treated at the CVS location she worked at.
My close friend moved to a new state, from Arizona (where she completed school and had relocated to for a few years). My coworker and I are residents of upstate New York.
This just added on the validity that CVS, as a whole, needs to be focusing on the treatment of their staff because complaints have come from different states — meaning that location and demographics are not the issues.
CVS is the issue.
If you think that this issue does not affect you, think again.Not only is it unsafe and unfair for these employees to be exposed to poor working conditions, it is unsafe and unfair to you as a consumer.If CVS is your main pharmacy to get your medications from, would you rather your pharmacist has the time and availability to talk to you about your medications and any possible questions or concerns you have?
I absolutely would prefer that as opposed to a pharmacist who may be on their 12th hour of work without having taken any kind of break during the day. If you are exhausted and mentally drained at work, then you are bound to make mistakes.When I am exhausted, overwhelmed and distracted at my job, I definitely make plenty of mistakes. The difference between my job and a pharmacist’s job (despite being completely different professions) is that if I make a mistake making someone’s coffee, their life is not at stake.
Pharmacists deal with life-saving medications and do much more behind the scenes work than many people realize. You want your pharmacist to be alert and energized enough to do their job well, or the consequences really could be deadly.
Maybe, that is a bit dramatic to say, but the risk (minor or severe) is still dangerous.
If you are currently on any medication and your doctor sends a new prescription over to your pharmacy, to add to your medication regimen, your pharmacist does not just receive that information and immediately fill that prescription.Your pharmacist must make sure that the doctor is credible, the prescription is filled out properly and the dosages are safe.
Sometimes doctors do not realize that you may be on a medication that will negatively interact with a new medication. The pharmacist is just about the last person in line to ensure that you are receiving proper medical treatment and the ones who may have saved you from a fatal drug interaction.
I am sure that CVS is not the only pharmaceutical seller to be scrutinized for poor employee treatment, but the fact that so many bad reviews are focused heavily at CVS is a definite red flag.
I also recognize that I have a personal bias toward the issue because one of my best friends is another pharmacist reporting obvious mistreatment at work. No one wants to see someone they care about go through any victimization.
However, my personal bias also led me to discover that this is not just an isolated incident. CVS clearly has a bad reputation when it comes to the treatment of their pharmacy staff and I think these issues should at least become known to aspiring pharmacists, technicians and customers.
My hope is that more questions are raised about a company whose entire business model is focused on health and wellness but is just seemingly another money hungry corporation that views the health and wellness of their employees as unimportant.
I think we should be questioning the hypocrisy of a company like CVS because how they treat the people who keep their stores going is a direct reflection of how they view their customers. As long as they make money, health and wellness are the last priority of the upper-level administrators and that is not OK.