On this week’s episode of the Hope4Med podcast, we host an in-depth conversation with Dr. Jamie Wilkey, a former retail pharmacist turned entrepreneur.
Connect with our guest, Dr. Jamie Wilkey:
[00:00:00] Dr. JB: Ever wish for a safe place to have conversations that need to be had? A place where you could say the things that need to be said? Well, welcome to Hope4Med. This is Hope4Med, med. New day for med, med. For us, by us, and just for us. This is Hope4Med, med. This is Hope4Med, med. New day for med, med. For us, by us, and just for us. This is Hope4Med, med.
[00:00:37] Hi everybody! Welcome back to the Hope4Med podcast, it’s me, Dr. JB, and today I am so excited to feature Dr. Jamie Wilkey who used to work as a retail pharmacist for 10 years, then decided to transition out. Welcome, Dr. Wilkey.
[00:00:57] Dr. Wilkey: Thank you, Dr. JB. I’m so glad to be here today.
[00:01:01] Dr. JB: And we’re so excited to have you! So talk to me about what made you decide to become a pharmacist in the first place.
[00:01:11] Dr. Wilkey: Well, honestly, it was because of my parents. They always pushed me to higher education and to doing as much as I can through education and through a career. And so all through middle school and high school, I was taking the AP classes and doing my best in school. And then one day, my dad who was and still is a hospital administrator, he’s the CFO, came in and he said, “you know what, Jamie, I sign the pharmacist paychecks and I think you should be a pharmacist.” And I was like, okay, I’ll do it. That does sound good because I liked the idea of being able to provide well for myself in the future. I really liked empowering women to do great things and to pursue higher education. And so to be able to get a doctorate degree was important to me without the required thesis that a lot of doctorate degrees require. And I knew that it would be a job that, um, would have a flexible schedule in the future, which was really important to me as well. So it kind of checked all my boxes and there was a great pharmacy school in Wyoming, where I grew up, and so it was just the natural course of events that put me there. And I’m really glad, really, really glad I made that decision.
[00:02:27] Dr. JB: That’s awesome. So you weren’t thinking of any other career paths?
[00:02:31] Dr. Wilkey: No, not one, I, I, felt like, yeah, that’s it that’s exactly what I want to do. And so I just jumped all in and focused all of my energy to get through the program in six years. And so it was pretty awesome, pretty efficient with my time, and such a fun experience.
[00:02:50] Dr. JB: Okay. So six years, is that normally how long it takes?
[00:02:55] Dr. Wilkey: No. Usually people get a bachelor’s degree before they apply to pharmacy school so most pharmacists it’s more like eight plus years.
[00:03:05] Dr. JB: Wow. So was this one of those, um, I know some of the medical schools have the dual degree programs, was it a dual degree program or were you just amazing and were able to skip right on through?
[00:03:17] Dr. Wilkey: I just went through really fast. So I have no other degree than my doctorate degree. I didn’t get any associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, I just structured my time so efficiently and took really high course loads to get through as fast as possible.
[00:03:35] Dr. JB: So when you graduated from pharmacy school, what were your options in terms of career?
[00:03:44] Dr. Wilkey: That’s a good question, Dr. JB. So for me, it felt like retail or hospital, those were my two options because , I chose not to pursue a residency and when you do a residency, then more clinical options open up to you. But especially 10 years ago, I, I hope it’s changed today, 10 years ago, I felt like those were my only two options.
[00:04:09] Dr. JB: All right. Awesome. And so when you graduated from pharmacy school, you went straight into retail pharmacy?
[00:04:17] Dr. Wilkey: Yes, I did. So we were living in Wyoming at the time and looking to move to Utah and back then the market for pharmacists was quite different, and everyone was hiring, and I could work wherever I wanted in Utah. And so we picked our ideal city where my husband could finish his master’s degree and I just started at a time without even applying for a job. They just, I got offered one from Walgreens and I said, okay, that’s exactly what I want. And so that’s what I did for quite a few years, worked full-time for Walgreens for the first two years and then I started having kids, and I’ve since had four little boys, so I cut down my hours and I’ve just been working part-time at Walgreens, um, all these years.
[00:05:01] Dr. JB: Your hands sound like they’re pretty full.
[00:05:05] Dr. Wilkey: Yes, they are. Very, very busy and also very full of love. It is such a good life.
[00:05:11] Dr. JB: Awesome. And so what was your day-to-day like working at Walgreens as a retail pharmacist?
[00:05:20] Dr. Wilkey: Oh, it was, it was pretty interesting in that, um, I got so many patient encounters, which I really liked because going to pharmacy school, you just want to help people and help them understand and help them feel better. And so I got to talk to a lot of patients, and I’m a people person, so I loved being in an environment where I was talking to people all day. I actually loved that I was standing in a pharmacy all day rather than sitting because I’m kind of an active person and so having a desk job wouldn’t do so well for me. And so, I really liked my patient encounters, I liked having a job that I could just clock in and out of and then not have to think about it the rest of the week, that when I’m on, then I do my best and when I’m off, I don’t think about work.
[00:06:06] But over the years, um, I just got more and more responsibilities at work and more, maybe not responsibilities, more tasks to be managed that kept piling up on my plate that took me away from patients and was focusing more on metrics. So as the years went by, I started feeling the symptoms of burnout, and I started feeling frustrated and almost trapped being in retail because in retail, you use a very specific knowledge and expertise and all the rest just fades away in your brain. So all of my hospital knowledge started leaking out my ears, as well as everything else I learned in pharmacy school. So while I liked my job, I was starting to feel stuck and feeling like, man, is this all I’m ever going to be able to do for the next 30 years of my career? Am I stuck in this same position?
[00:07:00] Dr. JB: I know there’s a lot of listeners who feel very similar.
[00:07:06] Dr. Wilkey: Yeah. Unfortunately our profession is kind of at a, in an interesting place because historically there’s not been a lot of innovation in pharmacy and it’s been a very stagnant field where we have very traditional positions, um, and so a lot of other pharmacists feel the same way. I felt, like, trapped, stuck, getting more and more work, more responsibility, and in some cases, even a lot less pay. So they see their responsibility and stress going up, their income going down and just feeling like with this really specific skill set I have, I don’t know that I can go anywhere else. And it’s not a fun feeling being trapped, especially for something as important as your career.
[00:07:50] Dr. JB: Yeah. You know, you made mention about metrics and I’m very familiar with metrics as an emergency medicine physician, but I’m not familiar how your guys’ metrics work as a pharmacist.
[00:08:02] Dr. Wilkey: Oh yeah, no, they’re probably very different than yours but it, you know, it just all comes down to the numbers, to make sure that all the numbers are happy regardless of how the current situation actually is. And so for pharmacists, it’s all about speed and answering the phone in less than 60 seconds, making sure prescriptions go from the patient handing them to you to typed up, verified, packaged up, product checked, and out the door in 15 minutes or less. And so for me, with my license on the line for every prescription that was going out under my name, it felt really stressful to be, um, under the gun for getting these out with speed, where it felt like speed was the priority rather than true patient care, true, like, making sure you’re actually getting the prescriptions right. Obviously that is a metric, that there’s not errors in prescriptions, but it’s so much to do with speed and how quickly you’re getting them through, which is a stressful place to be, especially in the pharmacy I was at.
[00:09:09] I was at a 24-hour pharmacy that never closes with two drive-through lanes and so we would do, easily, a thousand prescriptions a day and when you’re talking about that kind of volume, it just kind of made my brain spin to feel like I don’t want to hurt any of these patients, I want to make sure I’m getting this right, but, yeah. And when you have a hundred prescriptions sitting next to you on the counter that you have to burn through as fast as possible while patients are talking to you and calling on the phone, it just, it felt like I can’t do this indefinitely.
[00:09:43] Dr. JB: And did you have any help with all of this?
[00:09:48] Dr. Wilkey: Oh yeah, so technicians saved the day, for sure. So I’m not doing it by myself at a pharmacy full of technicians, and good technicians are the best asset in any pharmacy. I truly relied on them and I’m so grateful for all of their help. So they made the process a lot easier but ultimately at the end of the day, it comes down to your, your license as a pharmacist, being responsible for everything that happens in the pharmacy, and so even with help, it still felt stressful knowing that all of that work that I went to, to get through school, to get this license is on the line and, and a mistake could upend all of that.
[00:10:31] Dr. JB: Yeah. No, that’s definitely something that a lot of people experience, that fear of “what if I have a lapse of judgment, and then something happens, and then what, what next?” So, especially if, if you’re not the one that’s handling everything but you’re relying on your assistants and ancillary staff, that’s definitely something that’s really challenging.
[00:10:51] Dr. Wilkey: Yes, for sure. Especially with newer initiatives recently where it helps because other pharmacists will review the initial prescription. So the technician types up the image on the screen and then another pharmacist in another state reviews it for him, so by the time the product comes to me, I just have to check the physical product. But at the same time, if they get it wrong, I don’t know that at the end and so patients will come back and say, you guys really messed this up and to look at it and say, oh my gosh, that was a mistake. That, how you send out the wrong product, but I didn’t know it was wrong because I wasn’t privy to that information. So anyway, it’s, it’s a complex system that, um, I do think needs to be addressed just because the volume of prescriptions that are going through is so high. People are just getting on more and more prescriptions.
[00:11:46] Dr. JB: Did you stay at Walgreens the entire time or did you move around?
[00:11:50] Dr. Wilkey: No, that was my only job ever as a pharmacist until I quit. That was it. Like it suited my needs really well, I was working part-time, it paid well, it, it met all my needs. Plus, even if I wanted another job, the market was getting more and more saturated so I don’t know that I could have gotten one if I had been actively pursuing it out here in Utah.
[00:12:16] Dr. JB: And so, I know that you said that you started feeling like you were stuck and how long were you feeling that way before you decided, you know what, I need to make a change?
[00:12:27] Dr. Wilkey: It was probably about two years. Two years, I started to, like, look at the job boards and say, “huh can I do anything else?” And seeing very quickly like, oh, I, I don’t qualify for any of these, these very high-level pharmacist positions and there’s not really other retail positions, um, and so then I started going down the rabbit hole of “okay, well, I’m just going to change careers completely, maybe I will go to PA school.” “You know, if I went to PA school, I bet I can get a job” or maybe I’ll, I’ll go get some other degree because I felt like my doctor of pharmacy wasn’t enough. It was, it was a good education, but now I can’t do anything else with it, so I spent a long time looking at all the different careers or maybe looking at moving my family across the country for a year to get a residency because then I would be quote, unquote, “qualified” to do some cool things in pharmacy and just felt like, ugh this is a lot of work. I have a doctorate degree, this should be enough. right? Why can’t I, why is this not enough? Why is it so hard to break out of such a traditional role? So it’s, it was like two years of just feeling like, “man, what do I do from here?”
[00:13:45] So what exactly happened that made you decide, you know, this “enough is enough, I’m transitioning?”
[00:13:52] It was COVID, Dr. JB. It was COVID. Working on the front lines when everything else got shut down felt like kind of the last straw, like my husband was able to stay home and work from home. My kids were home from school. All of my neighbors were like able to just pack up and work from home. And it felt so frustrating to feel like I am a pharmacist and I cannot work anywhere except physically in that location, unless I do some cool IT pharmacy. And so, it just felt like enough is enough. And I know COVID had everyone rethinking their priorities and their health and like what truly matters in life, and for me, I was like, well, it’s now or never. I’m going to create a new career now or just keep complaining about it, because right now I’m just putting all of my energy into complaining about it and spending my precious free time looking for new positions posted online and that’s kind of a waste of time, I’m coming away with nothing out of it so, I’m going to put all that energy into creating what I really want and stop complaining and stop having excuses and just create it.
[00:15:06] Dr. JB: You know, that’s actually a pretty scary time to make a transition, especially when there was so much unknown. So how did that go for you?
[00:15:15] Dr. Wilkey: Oh yeah, so it was still a lot of unknown to figure out what am I going to specialize in? What, what interests me? And to even, like, go back to the core of who you are and what you’re interested in, and what you would choose to do , if you could do anything because for so long, we’re just trying to look for a job and just find a job that pays the bills, but you have to consider what do you even like to do? What do you want to do? Because it’s kind of a new concept, and like, what are my talents and skills? How do those, how can those serve other people? How can I make a difference in the world with who I am as a person?
[00:15:51] And so, a lot of self-reflection and evaluation and just, I just consumed myself with personal development books and podcasts, and just seeing what other people were doing and, Dr. JB, it just felt like coming out of a dark cave into like the sunshine. To see entrepreneurs are doing amazing things and you don’t have to, you don’t have to do something traditional. You can do something amazing, especially now, living in 2021 with technology and the internet, you’ve never been able to reach more people on the planet who are looking for you and your unique set of skills, and so it’s been a really exciting time to see how much is possible and right in front of me that I just didn’t even recognize for all those years.
[00:16:41] Dr. JB: That’s right. And it’s all because of COVID, right? That made you start thinking about–
[00:16:45] Dr. Wilkey: Well, yeah that was like the breaking point where it was like, you know what, why not? Why not? You only live once, why not?
[00:16:54] Dr. JB: Yeah, that’s true. Definitely one of the things that COVID has really brought to the forefront is how short and how precious life is, and the time that you have with your family, to really value that time because you don’t know, you don’t know if one day you or a loved one will be in a hospital bed alone. Right? That’s what COVID has, had made us all face, um, which has definitely been challenging but it really causes a lot of self-reflection, to really reassess and figure out what exactly it is that’s really important.
[00:17:35] Dr. Wilkey: Yes, exactly. Because you can just have your blinders on and just keep going with forward momentum without thinking why, and if it’s serving you, and how this is affecting your life, you just go, go, go, go, go.
[00:17:48] Dr. JB: Yep. And because almost the whole entire world kind of came to a pause, right? Um, that allowed others to stop and think, right? And take off those blinders, and reassess and look around, and ask “is this good enough?” “Is this really what I want?” And it seems like when you took out that time to do that, you realized, “I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of years, this isn’t, , really what I want, I think I could do something else, I think it could do more, I’m going to go for it.”
[00:18:23] Dr. Wilkey: Yeah. And it’s so exciting and so scary, but that’s part of living to just do more, think more, and see how you can help other people with your valuable knowledge. Because we take for granted what we know and think like, “oh, I can’t do much with this awesome degree,” but like truly, more than 99% of the people on earth about medicine and how much we can help in our own way.
[00:18:52] Dr. JB: Yeah, about the medications that we all prescribe. And so when you left retail, I remember when you graduated from pharmacy school, your choice was retail or hospitals, so did you go to hospital?
[00:19:05] Dr. Wilkey: No, I quit Walgreens and I created my own business. I just became an entrepreneur, which never, ever, ever crossed my mind. It was not taught in pharmacy schools, not encouraged, like, I didn’t know any other pharmacist in Utah doing anything like this. But especially, seeing what other pharmacists were doing on LinkedIn, I created a LinkedIn account last summer and was like, wow, I can do amazing things. And so what really, what really got me to be an entrepreneur is I took a certificate course in pharmacogenomics and seeing the power of being able to– what pharmacogenomics is, is it’s a cheek swab or a saliva sample that shows how your body metabolizes medications– and so to see that you could look at someone’s DNA and now guide prescribing based on their DNA, like genetics-based dosing rather than just throwing medicine at our patients and saying, good luck, I hope this works, if it doesn’t, follow up with me in three to six months and we’ll try something else. It felt revolutionary!
[00:20:14] And it felt like, why are we not doing this for our patients? This is huge. Especially with COVID like destroying mental health and really putting everyone in a hard place mentally, to be able to guide those mental health prescribing decisions and to empower patients for the rest of their lives to know what works for them and to advocate for their personalized care, just made me say, okay, I’ve got to start a business. This is, this information is way too valuable to just leave in my brain on ice, waiting for a job to pop up, so I just jumped all in.
[00:20:52] Dr. JB: That’s so awesome. And that’s so true, right? Because we don’t, I mean, as, as an emergency medicine physician, I have no idea about my particular patient’s genomics and how this medication that I prescribed them is going to affect them. Are they going to experience some of these rare adverse events or not? And we tell them if you do experience XYZ, always come back to the emergency department, but if there was something else that we could do, I’m sure that that would be really well-received. So now that you got into pharmacogenomics, how, how have you been received?
[00:21:28] Dr. Wilkey: Oh, so great. People are looking for this. Patients are looking for it. And when I, I, I partner with a, a practice and see their patients, all patients who are on medication, I do the evaluation and a complete consult with them about current medication and what it means for future medications. And I’ve had some patients start crying during our talk because they’re like, “wow, this is so rewarding to see that it’s not just me, that like these depression medicines that the doctor prescribed for me don’t work for me. I just thought I was like failing as a person because I was doing everything right, I was taking the medicine, I was trying my hardest, and nothing was working. This is so great to see that it wasn’t just me, like, there, there’s a DNA component and like that medicine wasn’t right for me, I could probably do better on something else.”
[00:22:21] And when people are living with mental health struggles for years, anything you can do to optimize what they’re doing can help so much, so it’s just been completely, completely rewarding to have that time with my patients that I couldn’t ever hope to have, um, in my previous setting.
[00:22:42] Dr. JB: And so I just have a couple more questions in terms of the pharmacogenomics and how it works. So it’s a cheek swab, and what’s the turnaround time in terms of getting those results?
[00:22:53] Dr. Wilkey: It depends on the lab, but it’s anywhere between one and two weeks.
[00:22:57] Dr. JB: Okay. And then, so then the patients will get prescribed X medication and then in two weeks, there’ll be revisions to that medicine, or how does that work?
[00:23:09] Dr. Wilkey: Yes, that’s how it is now because there’s not widespread testing. So ideally, you would have the test before you even have an encounter with a prescriber, but since that’s a long way from happening, yes, you make, you make your, your best guess with, with what prescription to do today, do the test, and then as soon as the results get back, evaluate if that’s the optimum therapy, and if it’s not, change it quickly.
[00:23:39] Dr. JB: And really every patient just needs one cheek swab for their life?
[00:23:45] Dr. Wilkey: Yeah! Isn’t that amazing? Because your DNA is you, it’s who you are, it doesn’t change for your life. And so, these results guide prescriptions for the rest of your life. Now, I’m sure in 30 years there’ll be an even better test, you might retest again in a decade or two, but truly at this point, it shows for years and into the future, what’s gonna work for you, what won’t work, and what will cause a lot of side effects.
[00:24:14] Dr. JB: This is awesome. This is something that could be incorporated even with newborn babies and newborn screening.
[00:24:20] Dr. Wilkey: Truly! Truly. Yeah, you’re catching the vision. It’s so important. It’s like, without it, it’s like prescribing medications for an elderly person without looking at their renal clearance, like that would be grossly inadequate to not consider how their kidneys are doing before we prescribe medicine. It’s kind of the same thing with genetics-based dosing, like we can know if this is going to work or cause problems, we just have to start doing it. And so, that is– there’s so much potential to just incorporate it into routine care. Yep.
[00:24:56] Dr. JB: And how granular does this get in terms of is it, uh, choosing between Zofran or Phenergan or is it oh, 6 milligrams of Zofran will be more effective for this patient than Phenergan.
[00:25:12] Dr. Wilkey: Oh yes. So what it does is it looks at different pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic, I just lost half your listeners, it does get quite granular in showing each medication if you’re a fast, slow, or normal metabolizer. And if you are fast or slow, how to adjust the dose accordingly.
[00:25:33] Dr. JB: So, you decided “I was going to transition out of retail medicine during the period of COVID,” took a course on pharmacogenomics, and then launched your, your, your business, um, but partnered with a clinic so that you could provide these services for their patients.
[00:25:56] Dr. Wilkey: Yeah, that’s exactly it.
[00:26:00] Dr. JB: And so how often do you have to meet with the patient?
[00:26:06] Dr. Wilkey: So initially, we meet for half an hour before we, before we do the, the test to understand what medications they’re on, what their history with medicines has been, what they feel is working for them, what’s not, what they would like to learn from a pharmacist. And then we do the test, I look over the report, make my evaluations, bring back my recommendations to the doctor, we talk about what they feel is appropriate for changes or not, and then when I meet with a patient, we get a whole hour together to go over their results to help them understand their DNA, which is pretty exciting to have a whole hour with your patients.
[00:26:48] But then it goes into that, more than just DNA. It would be far too narrow a scope if I just looked at drug-gene interactions and then left it at that. I’ve got to look at everything to do with medicine as a pharmacist, so we look at not only drug-gene interactions, but also drug-drug-gene interactions, and that’s getting really technical, but also like interactions with other medicine and food and supplements, and just patient education about medication. The, the conversation starts getting really broad, to making sure they even understand what they’re taking, and why they’re taking it, and do they actually need to be on 12 medicines? Let’s go through this together. And so it really– I love it because it’s a, it’s a starting point for a really good conversation that goes wherever the patient has questions, has trouble, has misunderstanding, and it’s so rewarding, so rewarding.
[00:27:46] Dr. JB: Yeah. And it’s such a value added to the clinic also. I’m sure there’s not one provider listening to this that would not be like, “oh my goodness, I would love to have a Dr. Wilkey working with me by my side.” That’s so awesome because we don’t have the time to even, um, delve into as much details as you are able to with the patient because of our own metrics, right?
[00:28:15] Dr. Wilkey: And I think part of the reason why pharmacogenomics hasn’t taken off. It’s, this has been around for 20 years. It’s not like this new cool test, this has been around so long. But I think the problem has been the labs are targeting the doctors, and they’re saying “here, look at this 98-page TGX report and make sure you use it on all of your patients,” because it’s like creating another language. It’s so technical. It’s totally in a pharmacist’s wheelhouse, that to throw it to the doctors and say, “I know you’re already overwhelmed and already doing everything, here, now, you’re responsible for that,” that’s just a lot and it’s not, it’s not your area of expertise per se. Like this, medicine is what pharmacists do and we’re happy to help. And so it’s nice to take that load off the prescriber and have the time with the patient to truly help optimize medicine rather than one more, one more thing for a busy doctor to have on their plate.
[00:29:18] Dr. JB: In the emergency departments now several of them, but not all of them, have a pharmacist or a pharmacy tech who for X amount of hours of the day they’re physically there, right? They go to all the stroke codes, all the cardiac arrests, and they help with the medications. And it’s amazing. It’s so wonderful to be working side by side with a pharmacist.
[00:29:46] Dr. Wilkey: I’m glad you agree. I think so too. I think it’s, it’s pretty rewarding too. And I think the tide is turning as, as residents in medical school are graduating, having gone through their program with pharmacist students in the hospital to, like, work on that collaboration through school, then it kind of sets you up for future collaboration and success in the future, when you see the value of this interaction and how both of you can benefit and how ultimately the patient really comes out with the most benefit because they’re being taken care of the very best.
[00:30:22] Dr. JB: That’s right. And, and so many patients have no idea why it is that they’re taking certain medications, and then they start experiencing side effects from XYZ medication, and then they’re prescribed a different medicine to combat the side effect of that medicine just to get another medicine, and before you know it, they have like 20 medications that they’re taking and they have no idea why.
[00:30:46] Dr. Wilkey: Yes. That’s not an exaggeration. I saw that all the time, like 10, 15, 20 medicines, and they don’t even know why they’re taking it, if they should still be on it. And especially when they’re coming from different doctors and different practices, no one’s communicating, no one’s bringing it together, like a pharmacist, and saying, “oh, this, what is going on here? This is a mess, no wonder you’re feeling tired and miserable, but then you can’t sleep at night.” Because all of these medicines are interacting and then you’re throwing more medicine at them. So, yeah, absolutely.
[00:31:19] Dr. JB: You know, and then what I tell my patients is, well, your primary care doctor is the one that would be sitting with you and going through your medications, but truth be told A) they can’t get in with their primary care doctor for X amount of months but then 2) when they do have that appointment, the primary care doctor has so much that they have to go over, right? And metrics again, their, their time that they’re allotted to spend with that patient is limited so they don’t have that time to actually go through every single medication.
[00:31:53] Dr. Wilkey: Yeah, absolutely. Because that’s, that’s not their wheelhouse, they’re about diagnosing and looking at the disease state rather than, oh, there’s 20 medicines too in my 10 minute appointment. So, yeah.
[00:32:09] Dr. JB: So, do you have like your own patient load or how does that work? How does your day-to-day look now?
[00:32:15] Dr. Wilkey: Yes, I have my own patient load that I see, that the prescribers see, see what patients they’d like me to see, put them on the schedule, and I meet with all of them and then check in with them every, ideally, every six months because if you only do this once, that’s far, far too short-sighted because, um, if you forget about it in a year, then the prescribing then can spiral out of control. So to, to have that time to really get everything lined up, a lot of “de-prescribing” happens, answer all their questions, then every six months, a quick check-in visit to make sure that it’s all still optimized and, um, that their questions are being answered because patients have a lot of questions about medicine, um, that we take for granted that we just know the answer, and when they can actually get time with a pharmacist rather than two minutes at a retail counter or on the phone, um, quite a bit of conversation comes up with, with basic things like disease state management and just basic overall preventative health that can make a big difference.
[00:33:25] Dr. JB: And so it sounds like you are much, much happier now.
[00:33:30] Dr. Wilkey: Dr. JB, I am so happy right now, so rewarding, so fulfilled. I feel like this is why I went to pharmacy school. This is what I meant to do.
[00:33:42] Dr. JB: And how do you feel fellow pharmacists are reacting or responding to what you’re currently engaged in?
[00:33:50] Dr. Wilkey: Oh, they’re so intrigued. And they should be because all this time we’ve just felt stuck in our career, and so I want to help as many pharmacists as possible to create a similar scenario as myself. Because if I can do it, some pharmacist who just worked at Walgreens for 10 years, like anyone can do it. And so I created an online academy that walks them through all the steps I took to get to the point, from point A to point Z in a quarter in the time that it took me because they don’t have to figure it all out because entrepreneurship within pharmacy is kind of unique, but then if you subcategorize the down into using pharmacogenomics for entrepreneurship, there’s, there’s very little information out there and there’s a lot of figuring out. And so now my goal is to get as many pharmacists as possible, thousands of them, out of jobs that are frustrating them into jobs in their community that are just waiting for them to come fill that need. And so it’s such a fun, empowering, exciting place to be, to have so much hope for our profession when I didn’t feel that for many years,
[00:35:02] Dr. JB: Yeah, I love that word, “hope.” Right? Hope for a brighter future, hope to love what you do again, hope to try to find the reason why you went into in the first place. And in the future, I can also see how once pharmacogenomics becomes more of a, uh, routine process that it could also possibly lessen the load for the retail pharmacist, right? Because they wouldn’t be necessarily having to fill prescriptions for 20 different medications for this one patient, maybe it would be five, really five that are truly effective for them. And therefore, they wouldn’t have to go through those 100 or 200 prescriptions that are waiting for them.
[00:35:52] Dr. Wilkey: Yes, absolutely. I would, I would love to see, see patients on less medicine like that because even though I’m a pharmacist, I don’t take medicine myself, no one in my family does, um, really because I see the value in medicine but I also know that too much and inappropriate prescribing doesn’t do any good. And so, it’s fun to, to enlighten them on proper medication use but still be an advocate for less is usually the best.
[00:36:25] Dr. JB: That’s, that’s such a common thing that we find in healthcare professionals, myself included. Like “I’m not a big fan of medications, but here’s your prescriptions.”
[00:36:36] Dr. Wilkey: Yeah. I don’t know any pharmacists who are like, “wow, I really love medicine, I take 13 myself.” Like, that, that’s, um, it’s– anyway, it’s part of the fun of educating patients and to come from that space of caution and discretion, so it’s pretty cool.
[00:36:54] Dr. JB: I’m sure pharmaceutical agencies may not find what we’re saying very comical, but you know.
[00:37:02] Dr. Wilkey: That’s bad, it’s bad for business but good for health.
[00:37:07] Dr. JB: So… but that’s so awesome, so now are you working a 9 to 5, or were you 9 to 5 when you were at Walgreens?
[00:37:16] Dr. Wilkey: Oh, heavens no. I was working all over the place, working like 10, 12, 14 hour shifts, um, and they’d ask me to do double shifts, and it was– I could never plan anything for my family, like I have four little boys, I couldn’t find them up for many sporting activities or like even swim lessons because it just was so hard to navigate that schedule with my family. And so, that, the schedule was a big reason of getting out too. It was just, I had no control over that, so now, I do get to work 9 to 5 and it’s completely rewarding, and do fun things as a family on the weekends, and my work schedule does not hijack everything.
[00:38:03] Dr. JB: So Monday through Friday, 9 to 5, off on the weekends, and you get to spend an hour or so with your patients really educating them and really fulfilling this need.
[00:38:19] Dr. Wilkey: It’s pretty great.
[00:38:22] Dr. JB: And two years ago, did you ever think something like this was possible?
[00:38:28] Dr. Wilkey: No, not at all. I thought I’ll probably just quit, eventually I’ll just have to quit. I will, it’s fine, I’ll just be with my kids more and that’ll be rewarding, but there’s no other job for me. And so now I get the best of both worlds, I get a career that’s fulfilling and I get to be with my kids more and help my patients in a really meaningful way instead of just medicating them.
[00:38:55] Dr. JB: But I’m sure there were some sacrifices that took place, for instance, now that you are doing this 9 to 5 job, have you noticed that your income has been affected at all or not really?
[00:39:08] Dr. Wilkey: Uh, well, so initially it was, and I’m glad you brought that up, because you have to, when you build something from nothing, it takes a huge sacrifice of time and money and so, while I, I would take days off work and build my business from the side, it was months of me taking quite a few days off. And so for me, it was mostly a lost income while I was building this because I was working less so I could hustle on the side, um, but now that’s finally starting to pay off as I have patients and a practice that’s growing and the provider wants me to do more. It easily paid for itself and ultimately, I’m giving myself a pay raise because it’s a more valuable service. And as a consultant, I get a say in what I am reimbursed and so it’s been a full circle of sacrifice, but now, ultimately I’m getting what I worked so hard for.
[00:40:07] Dr. JB: What I find so interesting about this conversation is that you love being a pharmacist, right? You know, healthcare is not a profession, but it’s a calling. It takes a special type of person to not only want to go into a career in healthcare, but to withstand all these hoops we have to jump through to get to the end goal. Um, and so, there’s a lot of love and, and excitement there, but sometimes when you get to that end goal, you realize, oh, this isn’t really what I thought it was going to be, right? But it doesn’t mean that you don’t love what you, what you’ve become, right? It doesn’t mean that you don’t love being a pharmacist, you still do, but it’s the experiences, your day-to-day experiences, that just aren’t exactly what you thought it would be. And your story, you didn’t transition out and just stopped being a pharmacist, right? And that’s what I find with a lot of healthcare professionals, , if they transition out of bedside or whatnot, they just don’t walk away and forget about it and go into a whole different field or career path. They actually stay, they stay close, and they find ways to make things better.
[00:41:34] Dr. Wilkey: Yes, that’s so well said, just finding a way that makes things better and that suits you so that it’s something you enjoy and you can fully invest yourself in.
[00:41:47] Dr. JB: So with that being said, if one of my listeners wanted to get in touch with you how could they do that?
[00:41:56] Dr. Wilkey: So, DrJamieWilkey.com is the best place and also LinkedIn, I’m happy to address any questions, um, provide further insight. I love, I love getting in touch with people, so many people have helped me along the way that I’ve reached out to, so I’m happy to do the same.
[00:42:14] Dr. JB: Are there any final words that you would want to share with anybody interested or considering a career change or just words of wisdom?
[00:42:27] Dr. Wilkey: Oh, yes. I would say if you’re feeling burned out and frustrated and looking to do a career change, then do it, invest in yourself and invest in your future because that’s going to get big payoffs in happiness and confidence in your future. To me, people say, well, it’s so scary, so scary to think of doing something new, but for me, it’s scarier to stay and not adapt to the future of pharmacy. So I could either stay and keep complaining and one day be fired so they could hire a pharmacist at half of my salary, and then I’m just left with no other options, or to work on the side, create something amazing, and grow that so that I have a confident future that I love because the future is going to be elements of hard, whether you like it or not, so being able to choose your hard and choose to funnel that into something bigger and greater makes the “hards” so much better. So it’s not easy and it’s not perfect, but man, so much more rewarding and I’m just so happy.
[00:43:34] Dr. JB: And I can hear it throughout your entire voice.
[00:43:38] Dr. Wilkey: There’s, so everyone needs to know, there’s, there is a bright future in pharmacy, but it’s not going to be found on indeed.com scrolling through the jobs. It requires you as a person giving yourself to the profession and creating something amazing.
[00:43:57] Dr. JB: All right, Dr. Wilkey, I appreciate your time. This has been wonderful. I think there’s several listeners that are really excited about these options that they may have never even known about before today.
[00:44:10] Dr. Wilkey: Thank you. I’m glad to be able to share the good news and the bright future I see ahead. And of course, for another chance to talk to you, because I love the conversations that you’re starting and for what you are creating. Dr. JB, there’s a huge need for it right now.
[00:44:29] Dr. JB: Who says a doc can’t rap? D O C T O R J B. The greatest doctor to ever touch the mic. The greatest podcast ever broadcasted or prerecorded. Come learn some, each one, teach one, I’m done.