(King of Failures – Remedy Drive)
How much I want this to be true of my career search journey. I feel sometimes like I have just failed and failed and failed and maybe it is true that I am broken and unwanted.
I was just at a pharmacy conference though, and there were a lot of really good moments…also some bad ones.
First I had to get there. Thank God that I found someone I know at the airport when it was time to make a connection. She kind of rocks…and by kind of, I mean, she is probably a big reason the majority of my experience felt so positive for most of the conference.
I don’t do awesome lost in the crowd of large groups of people. I am not a complete introvert, but I am also not a complete extravert. I do best in a small group with one or two other people, but if I do have to be in a larger group, doing it with a buddy if super duper helpful.
We were separated at the shuttle place where I thought I was going to be abducted, because some guy told me to come with him and I noticed he only approached the females. And also his van was white, but it didn’t have any candy in it…but I did make it to my hotel super late at night. That dude drove a good 30 miles over the speed limit and didn’t use his turn signal a single time.
But anyway…the conference.
I missed the first event I was going to go to, but whatev. Not the end of the world…it just gave me like 15 forevers to wait until my first session started.
I started with an event about life-changing medication events (with buddy). It was okay. One of the speakers I think was only there because he was a good name to have, but the other speaker was incredible…if only the other speaker had been the only speaker. Also the person who introduced the talk seemed like she had a really good story to share and I was sad that she didn’t share that story.
Then I went to an emergency medicine networking session. I felt a little out of place because the group I ended up in was all residents except for me and one RPD. So the entire conversation in my group ended up pretty much being about residency…the roundtable at the end was good, but not very detailed. I wish I’d sat at a different table. But I did get to have a good conversation afterwards with a resident interested in pursuing PGY-2 within the system I work in (or maybe it was a job…IDK…but anyway, she had questions and I had answers).
Then I went to a session about de-prescribing. If it hadn’t been focused on geriatrics, it would have been an awesome-sauce talk, but I had trouble caring because the entire thing was focused on geriatrics. It did give me a few websites that may potentially have information about other populations though so I guess I’ll have to check those out sometime and see.
Then I went to a session about managing emotions. It really didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know, but I didn’t mind hearing it again, and I don’t think it was a poorly done talk. And I liked that they tied in that sometimes emotion can lead to a safety event, but we shouldn’t wait to address emotion concerns until a major sentinel event occurs.
Then I went to the new practitioners networking event. It was set up as a speed networking session and apparently that is the first time ASHP has ever sponsored speed networking. Some of the people I talked to were better to talk to than others. One was another new practitioner like me who had less than ideal communication skills like me…but the event was really good pretty much because of the first person I spoke with. She was an RPD. She actually really respects people who are going back to do residency after being in the profession. She was super positive and encouraging. It really sucked sharing about my story to where I am today, but I am so glad I did, because she was really nice and didn’t make me feel like I wasn’t good enough. Instead she made me feel like I really did have a chance.
The final thing I did that day was go to my school reception. At first I was kind of wondering why in the world I thought this was going to be a good idea…but oh my…I am so glad I went. A group of students invited me to talk with them, and I had forgotten how much I LOVE mentoring students. That right there pretty much made my whole day. I could have stopped right there and been satisfied. Also, I didn’t have to eat my packed dinner, because there was actually food there that was good. I was in an overwhelming social situation, so it wasn’t like I ate that much, but what I did eat was great! And I saw the wife of the president of the college who hugged me and was great to talk with. And a few people said they’d talk with me in a minute then stood me up, but I have learned that it is okay to give up and find someone else to talk to instead. I ended up talking with this girl who apparently kind of sort of works with my director of pharmacy. She was so nice! She kind of adopted me into her group for a while which was awesome.
Then it was time to walk the mile and a half back to my hotel. Homelessness is a lot more visible in that area than it is back home. It broke my heart seeing the people who clearly live on the streets…but there really wasn’t anything I could do. I didn’t bring any cash with me, and my food came from company provided funds, so it would have been theft from the company to give it away…but I felt so bad that there was really nothing I could do.
The next day I took an easy day and the first thing I went to was the opening session at 9am with Earvin Magic Johnson. He was an incredible speaker…so much better than the keynote speaker at the other midyear I attended. He had such an awesome message of hope. I was super glad I wasn’t sitting in the area he was standing, because he kept having people stand up and stuff, but it was a good message. He talked about how even if things have been going wrong and it seems like you are in a place where the only road to go down doesn’t seem to go anywhere but away from your goals, if you just keep on doing whatever YOU can do, somehow someway if you stay positive you very well might reach your goals. Sure, there is no guarantee – everyone makes mistakes and everyone fails, but if you stay positive there is hope that someday you will get what you need. So yeah. It was super good and another message that I really needed to hear. There was another session I was going to attend but instead decided to take a break and eat and check out the exhibit hall. So yeah, the exhibit hall is something someone like me gets next to nothing out of, because if I can avoid talking to anyone I will, especially in a large crowd setting like that…so I don’t collect much swag and I don’t really learn about any products or services…but I went…because that is what people do…lol…
At lunch I met a group of students and got to have another super awesome mentoring session. I so much miss having those kinds of experiences. Because of that I don’t even care that the food was overpriced and not very good and the restaurant couldn’t give me a receipt.
Then it was showcase time. I am not sure it is really appropriate to discuss my thoughts on that on my blog and I don’t feel like trying to de-identify everything…so long story short, there is one program that had starburst which made me really excited to work for them even though that is a bad reason to choose a residency. Another program I was super excited about I feel like I just had someone to talk to who wasn’t that outgoing, but as a result, I didn’t really get the warm fuzzies…that is really the problem with the showcase. The goal is to sign in for points when applicable and if not, just to gain information, but pretty much that same information is available online so what you are really getting is which program has the most extraverted staff…
I went to a session from there on gabapentin abuse. It was pretty good. Unlike the next session I went to about resilience and burn out. Basically the main take away of that session was burnout sucks and here is the national crisis line if you are thinking about suicide…so yeah that kinda wasn’t the greatest…
And then I met up with my buddy again and we rode the bus to a hotel close to downtown Disney…and then proceeded to go the exact opposite of the correct direction to get to downtown Disney. We had dinner there. That is another meal that probably won’t be covered because it was at a venue. The food wasn’t incredible, but it was okay and I was happy to spend time in togetherness. Then of course there was the 1.5 ish mile walk back home…after wandering like forever through a hotel we thought would be a shortcut.
In the morning I got ready as fast as humanly possible, because as it turns out, if you have a meeting you want to be at before 5:45 and have about 2 miles to go to walk there, it might be wise to actually figure out beforehand what time (in a totally different time zone) you need to set your phone alarm…’cause my hotel room had no clock and I couldn’t figure out how to reset the time on my phone. So when I figured it out I had 30 minutes to get up, showered, dressed, make up on, packed up, and out the door. I made it!
That first session was on eliminating IV errors. It was a pretty good session. It was basically a reminder to never give up. We are all human, but if you can make a patient’s care better then do it even if it seems like you’ve tried before and it hasn’t made a difference.
Then shortly after that it was showcase time. I rocked it and was ready for my next session less than 45 minutes later. It was a short session on the possibility of creating a centralized order entry model to either do the same work with less staff or to use the same amount of staffing to expand services. It sounded like a potentially okay idea, but obvi isn’t anything there is any possibility that I could implement, and honestly I don’t think I would like that model for my own career as it would feel kind of depersonalized.
Next up was a session on pediatric infections. ID is definitely not my favorite topic, so by extension the session wasn’t my favorite. I think it was a well done session, I just didn’t feel like I could connect to the material since I dislike ID so much.
And I took a lunch break and forced myself into the exhibition hall again, then headed to the next showcase. And done with that! Yay!
Then I went to a session on pediatric and neonatal cases. Personally I do not prefer learning via cases, so I’m not sure why I picked that session besides obvi the neonatal thing…and then it was mostly ID focused again…so it wasn’t the greatest, especially because right before the session started I checked my email. I had an email from my manager stating that he didn’t like how I worded a recent safety report. I guess after a long day that was the last straw. I was frustrated and overwhelmed and angry and just done with everything. I was holding back tears. I was mad at myself for not being good enough at communicating. And I was mad that I even bothered filling out a safety report. And I felt frustrated that clearly my manager didn’t even understand the situation that led to the safety report and didn’t understand the situation the patient had been in. I certainly over-reacted, but I was in over my head. Overtired, alone, surrounded by too many people…yeah, just not a great situation.
I am so thankful for my choice for my last session of the day. It was something I really really needed. It was about healing the healers. It was so good. Did I learn something? Umm, well, not about pharmacy or about resilience, but about myself. As the person was talking about the pressures on pharmacists, and pharmacy learners, I could understand that I am not alone. And they challenged everyone to write a few sentences about how mental health has impacted them and/or their practice whether their own or the health of a coworker. We were supposed to write it and then leave it behind on the table. I am not sure if it was intended to be an exercise in letting go or if they collected and read them later, because I needed to get to the bus to have some time to be alone to finally be able to calm myself so I wasn’t going to hang around after the program was order to find out. But I was bold and brave and vulnerable. I didn’t really say that much but I used my couple sentences to share that I had been told I would never make it so after failing to match I was really struggling with the grief. I don’t know why, but I know that finally being able to talk about that again, even if only on an anonymous notecard left on a table, felt really good in a way I can’t even really explain. It is almost like when I could share it made the pain I have experienced in life real, like it really happened. It isn’t like I didn’t believe it happened before, or anything…I don’t know, I guess it just felt more valid when it was shared. And it also made me realize that although the experience itself of being abused was in my past – I no longer have any contact with M – the abuse isn’t really in my past even now. It is still in my every day, the effects still impact my life. The fact that I was abused matters. It isn’t something that can just be ignored. I can’t honestly pretend it never happened and pretend everything is fine, has always been fine. It isn’t fine. It happened. And that changes everything. And it kind of explains that earlier over-reaction. Yep, I cried so hard at night about that stupid email earlier in the day that I had to get up in the middle of the night because I couldn’t breathe. That was somewhere in between the fireworks sounds keeping my brain awake like each other night, and time to get up…the last few years of school, any even tiny negative like mentioning on my blog that there was a specific type of music I didn’t like that happened to be a type of music that M liked was enough that I could be in real danger. So it makes sense that after living for years walking perilously on egg shells, that negative feedback can at times put me on red alert. It wasn’t really anger I was feeling. It was fear. Fear that I misinterpreted as anger because anger I guess seems more okay
I guess than fear. Well, I guess that and that it was coming from someone who was writing a reference letter for me. I really need that letter to be positive. What if because of that he says something that hurts me in the residency search? I so desperately want a residency this year. It feels like need. And I guess I am also afraid that I won’t get it. I am afraid that nothing I do will ever be enough and no one will ever want me, not just because that is what my experience says is true, but also because that is what I was told as a third year student. There’s that it’s in my every day again…
I know all that stuff about God having a plan and stuff, but I am really struggling with waiting for a residency that may or may not be coming. I guess I am kind of burnt out on waiting. I just want to be done with my job. I don’t want to be here anymore. I just want to get on with this. I don’t understand why no one wants me, and I don’t understand why God doesn’t do something to change it. I just want someone somewhere to maybe not even *want* me, but even just tolerate me. Just give me a chance.
So yeah. I rode the bus back to my hotel that evening. I was way too peopled out that evening to go out to find something to eat. Luckily there were some snacks available in the lobby. They weren’t great and it wasn’t the most balanced semblance of a meal, but it was something to at least be able to say I’d eaten. Then I really really wanted to swim and I had a little bit of time, but again, I was still just way too peopled out to leave my room to go swimming. Instead I sat in front of my computer, not even doing anything on the computer. Just being, staring at it. Then I got a start on packing up all my stuff.
In the morning, I kinda didn’t learn from the day before and still didn’t set my alarm. I had 15 minutes to get ready so I didn’t bother with make up. And then I got downstairs and realized it was raining and had to go back to my room to get an umbrella. I walked as fast as I could when I finally got back downstairs to get to the morning meeting. I really wasn’t even that interested in the topic. I just wanted to get the most out of the conference and that was the only morning meeting that I felt confident I could attend and still manage to get to the airport in plenty of time. It wasn’t the greatest talk ever, but if it were a topic I were more interested in, it may have been better. Afterwards, I rode the bus back to my hotel and had a wonderful conversation with the bus driver since I was the only person on the bus for the majority of the ride. Side note that I don’t understand why the hotel literally across the street from the convention center gets bus service for at least a good portion of the day, but at 1.7 miles away I couldn’t get a bus until 6:30 or later which is not early enough to arrive to a 5:45 meeting…so yeah, I got to the hotel, shoved my brush in my bag, grabbed my bags, and checked out of the hotel. That was when the stress went sky high. The plan was check out, schedule shuttle, eat enough breakfast to get through a flight that doesn’t land until almost 3pm, then board shuttle and head to airport. In reality, I tried to schedule a shuttle and the website wouldn’t load enough on my phone to tell me what number to call. So I got out my laptop. All I could get from Super Shuttle was an automated message that they were not accepting reservations for today, please try again with an alternative flight time…umm, yeah, pretty sure flight times don’t work like that. I tried Karmel shuttle service and the response was that the earliest they could get me to the airport was noon. Not helpful for a flight that leaves at 11:40. So I did what I had vowed never to do and called the number the guy left me who drove me to the hotel when I arrived. And there was no answer. I tried super shuttle again hoping there was some flaw in the system somehow. Nope. I was pretty panicked at this point and called my dad who suggested I try downloading the Lyft app. So I tried. At this point, I had been trying to get a ride for 40 minutes and the time I wanted to leave by was rapidly approaching. While I was waiting for the Lyft app I got a call from someone. At the time I thought it was the shuttle I had ridden to the hotel that I had called and gotten no response. In any case, the person asked if I needed a ride to the airport and when I said yes, said that he would call me back in a few minutes but was pretty sure his driver could pick me up. While I was waiting I kept working on the Lyft app. About the time I got a call back, I was discovering the the Lyft app wasn’t letting me create an account. Luckily the response was to be ready in 10-15 minutes. However I found out that this was not the same shuttle service I had called and I have absolutely no idea how this service got my number – but I guess it is fine because 20 minutes later a shuttle arrived and it wasn’t excessively expensive and it finally got me to the airport safely. At that point I was just thrilled to finally be getting to the airport. So yeah…a lot of other things have gone on since then, but I was only going to write about the conference and have already gone on a million rabbit trails that have nothing to do with the conference…
Just one more thing…I am turning into the person that terrified me as a young college student…I have become the person that asks random strangers in the airport how they are doing or if they are headed home or out of town…I hate that I am doing it, but at the same time I am thrilled, because it means I am doing some really good social learning. I am figuring out the concept of awkward silence, and I am learning how to ask non-invasive questions and hold a conversation with a stranger. It is really awesome. Finally instead of being terrified of a hello or how are you being pointed in my direction, I am not just prepared, but the one initiating contact. People DO get better. I CAN learn. I am not hopeless.
This was all written yesterday, most of it in the airport while feeling kinda dizzy, because guess who packed iron supplements “somewhere” but not somewhere she’d actually remember them at all during the week…so if it seems kinda crazy or all over the place or totally lost, probably that matches the chaos that was in my brain while I was typing…lol…