Weekends can be hard. Whether you work in retail, hospital, long-term care, or another setting, they can be filled with stress, unpredictability, and a heavy workload. It's not just pharmacists who feel it because almost all healthcare professionals - nurses, physicians, physicians assistants, etc.....staff down.

Some weekends are slow slow and relaxing while others are hurried and rushed. It's usually hard to predict which way it will go; for me, it's usually the weekend that I plan on working on projects, getting caught up, etc.. that we get completely slammed! Add the fact that your friends and family are out having fun, you have a staff call out or two, an emergency software outage or the Pyxis machines are down, and you have a situation where all you want to do is go home, destress, and have a bottle of wine.

I've worked my fair share of weekends. At my first job, I worked every other weekend and it almost killed me. After a year or two at that job, I transferred to a hospital where I worked every third or fourth weekend. Weekends there were still unpredictable but we had a bigger sense of comraderie. Also, you weren't the only pharmacist and had people to lean on if you were swamped. The positive spin in weekend differential and a day off during the week!

1. Come prepared - don't be late, have your coffee, and expect to hit the ground running. Sometimes you will have time to ease into the morning and sometimes you won't but there is nothing worse than getting paged to verify your order as you are parking your car.

2. Handoffs are key - most organizations have some sort of handoff system; whether it is electronic or a designated spot with notes.

3. Have a flow - especially in retail and hospital central operation, it's important to have a good workflow. When you have less staff on the weekend, you have to be more efficient and purposeful with your time.

4. Prioritize - I remember having a huge queue some weekends because of hospital admissions. My pager and phone would be going off constantly, and then all of a sudden I'd be called to a code. Obviously the code would take priority. In those situations, I would lean on my coworkers to cover the queue when possible. If not, then you cover the code and then verify the high priority orders and answer the phone when you can.

5. Make it fun - order lunch, play music (if it's appropriate to do so), and keep the attitude light. Patients get angry when it looks like you are playing back there and not working on their prescription (even when you are!), so don't look like you are enjoying yourself too much...but remember why you are there....to give your patients excellent service and care and to create a warm, supportive work environment for your employees and colleagues.

And if you do find yourself with a slow shift, get something done! Print ahead, work on inventory, or do a bin reconciliation in retail - your manager will love you! You can also get some CE done, take time with a student, or work on another work project. There is usually not a short supply of work to be done 😄.

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PracticeJoanna Simmon