Posts from around the country: Los Angeles

March 24, 2009 at 11:05 am (1st and 2nd year)

As I continue my trek across the country, I recently ran into Kevin, a second-year medical student who hails from South Central Los Angeles. He is currently working his way through pharmacology and had this to say about the course:

Why in God’s name does this have to be so hard? Who in their right mind gave these names to drugs anyway? They’re always so confusing. I can’t recall whether tetracycline is birth control or an antibiotic. And is there really a difference between atenolol and metoprolol? I’ll just have to let the drug reps tell me which is better.

There sure is a lot of memorization. Some people use flashcards. I use dirty mnemonics. I don’t know if “killing prostitutes for fun and pleasure” is a true statement, but it sure does tell me the different types of benzodiazepines.

When I told my cousin back home that I was studying pharmacology, this trick asked me if I can give him some OxyContin. I’m not a street pharmacist. And speaking of pharmacists, did you know that they get over $100,000 a year just to dispense pills? They are doing the job of a high school graduate with a computer and are making a killing thanks to the certification laws of our country.

And some people make this their life. I realize that you can make a million bucks by discovering a new drug, but who would want to go through all that time and effort?



  1. Mel said,

    So, to Kevin if all the comments above are yours, it is obvious from your post you haven’t spent any time in a pharmacy and are probably one of those patients we hate to deal with. Pharmacists do more than put pills in bottles – that’s a tech job anyway. I won’t go on and on, but we do catch a lot of errors from docs – wrong drug, strength, drug interactions – and are then responsible for fixing what the doc screwed up or it’s my license on the line. We are paid for our drug knowledge, ability to prepare and dispense compounded medications, ability and skill in navigating the twisted jungle of third-party payers and I resent your statements above.

    You should be glad someone is taking the time to learn what you have deemed to be “so hard” and “confusing”. Things will go more smoothly with you and your patients in the future if you show some respect to the other health care professionals you work with – this may hit you hard next year as you actually get to work with people on rotations. For example, I could save you from looking like and idiot in front of your attending if you suggest qDay dosing of metoprolol tartrate (not succinate), but with your attitude, I’d just as likely sit back and let you look like a fool. As to the drug reps, they probably have a bachelor’s degree at best and are taught only about a few drugs. Of course they say thier drug is “the best”, but, remember, to them it is a business and I wouldn’t trust some of them farther than I could throw ’em. No matter how pretty or nice they are – or how much free stuff they bring. In the future, just think about things before you say them, especially in the political environment called a teaching hospital, and good luck to you.

  2. thehillbillyhealer said,

    Wow, please don’t read anything I’ve written Mel, I think pharmacists are dumber than the poster. Oh well.

  3. Troy said,

    I’m currently an M2 and before medical school I spent three years as a pharmacy tech. If there weren’t pharmacists, doctors would be spending a lot more time in jail. I cannot even begin to count the number of times the pharmacist caught an error made by the doctor. I was specifically told when I was hired: ‘when a doctor makes a mistake on a prescription, do not call them and tell them that. tell them we didn’t understand something, but NEVER tell them it was their fault. they don’t think they make mistakes.’

    Pharm is hard in medical school and future doctors screw it up all over the place. If PharmDs are nothing more than a high school graduate and MDs can barely pass basic pharm, what does your post say about you?

  4. Medic said,

    Touche` Troy. If high school graduates can do a pharmacists job, why do does Kevin find it hard? Ah, students always think they know a lot.

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