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Knowing When to Quit

How do you know when it’s the right time to quit something instead of just relentlessly pushing through? I’m not sure. But it’s something I’ve had to face up to this week.

I’ve written before about my frustration with receiving anonymous feedback. I’ve had some pretty bad experiences. Well actually, when I think about it, the bad experiences have all been anonymous reviews conducted by pharmacists. I think it’s because most pharmacists like to distil the world down to black and white. They like to be right. And that’s just not the way I see things, so it creates some pretty strong dissonance.

A while ago I decided that if I was going to be studying and writing about the HMR process then I should really get accredited by the AACP. I figured it would help me in understanding the position of the accredited pharmacists. Improve my capacity to empathise. Get to know the community of practitioners.

It’s not so much that I want to actually pursue a career of providing HMRs. In fact, I used to be accredited with the SHPA and never did a single one so I let it lapse. Back then, I was doing medication reviews for the community palliative care team. I thought if I was going to do them I should at least make sure I met the standard, so I sat the CGP exam, filled out my paperwork and paid my fee. Easy.

If only I could say the same ease existed with the AACP process. I can’t. I definitely can’t. In fact, I’ve found it so anxiety-provoking that I have just sent an email saying that I’m not going to pursue accreditation. Yes, I am quitting.

It’s not because I got negative feedback. I got negative feedback the first submission, I had my little rant, then I sat down and revised it and did it properly. Dare I say that I actually quite enjoyed it and learned a few things. I was almost looking forward to the next case. But then I got the feedback telling me I was still not yet competent. That they could see I’d improved so I was lucky enough to get to submit to the same reviewer for a third time. And I could pay another $70 for that privilege.

I let it sit for a while. I told myself that it’s just one of those things to endure. That I just have to play the game. Don’t take it personally. I thought I would approach it like any other peer review and go through the comments one by one. In peer review you’re not expected to blindly accept all the comments, so surely this was the same.

As I sat down and went through each of the 33 comments, a new reality revealed itself to me. The reality where you either produce work that you think is valid, or you produce work that appeases the reviewer – they are mutually exclusive outcomes. And this reality stressed me out.

I’m not really what I would describe as an anxious person. I can take on multiple responsibilities and manage them pretty well without them keeping me up at night. But this was keeping me awake. Multiple nights, there in my head. And it was making me anxious, and angry, and generally not feeling very good.

So, rightly or wrongly, I decided that paying more money and spending more time on this process for learning sake simply wasn’t worth it. I decided that I shouldn’t let sunk costs influence my future decision making. I decided that there was no way in hell I was amending my report to address some of these ridiculous recommendations. Three of the 33 were kind of reasonable, but the other 30 could not be entertained. I ran it by some colleagues first. I’m not stupid, I needed to know I wasn’t being sensitive. They validated my frustrations.

So I quit. I’m a quitter. And I don’t feel anxious anymore.