8 Reasons why I hate being a Pharmacist in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt

I work in a pharmacy in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. It is our family business/thingy: My father in a pharmacist, and so is my sister. My mother, though not a pharmacist by profession, she has 20+ years experience in running the pharmacy by now, so by now she is actually better than many ‘real’ pharmacists. And so, after high school, I was forced to follow the family trend and study pharmacy, although I knew I hated it. And now looking at the possible careers, non of them seemed to catch my attention or to promise any self satisfaction, so again I was forced to work as a retail pharmacist, in our pharmacy.
And I hate it. I really do, from the bottom All my Heart.

As mentioned before, I was forced to study it, although to be honest, I enjoyed studying some of the subjects, I hated the vast majority. (All the biology related bullshit).

It is not a rewarding job, I work all day (yes I do) and yes I do get paid but what’s next? Do I get promoted? Do I get a raise or do I get moved to another maybe more interesting department? Unfortunately the answer to all the previous question is NO! Even if I keep working here for the next 20 years, I will still be wasting my life on that desk.

Am I really a pharmacist? I do ‘sell’ medicine but what else do I do? Did you just tell me I have studied for 5 years in college, studied plants, toxins, drug structures, pharmacology, chemistry, zoology, epidemiology and many, many more just to ‘sell’ medicines?
– A fact about community pharmacies in Egypt: Physicians write the trade names of drugs in prescriptions so basically all you do is fetch them out of the shelf. Or, you act as the physician and prescribe medicines (Everything is OTC), and half literate people try to convince you that you don’t understand anything and you are prescribing the wrong medicine because “they know it all, and their cousin has tried this drug and worked better”

Add to #3 that I am in Sharm el Sheikh, Egyptian Ibiza, city of tourism and prostitution (literal prostitution). So basically I sell more accessories, Viagra and condoms than ‘real drugs’ through the day.

Taking this as a full-time job is self-destructive, if you add up #3 and #4, you will see the picture that there is no innovation. More memorizing of stuff, drug names and places than thinking. It’s making me lose all my innovative skills, creativity skills & talking skills (explained in #6)

As mentioned before, I work in our pharmacy in Sharm el Sheikh, while I have lived all my life in Alexandria and it’s where all my friends are. Add to that (reference #4) the vast amount of prostitutes and drug addicts in that city, I do not really want to be friends with any of them. Or I can state this in another way, they wouldn’t really want to be friends with me, they would want to use me/my pharmacy for getting free stuff.
This leads to me spending all day without talking to anyone. No wait, I talk to costumers, let’s say I don’t have any proper conversations with anyone.

Even if working in a pharmacy is supposed to be fun or interesting, not in our pharmacy. Although it is a very good pharmacy in terms of patient satisfaction and stock wise. It is not even close to being a good place to spend all your day (I go home to sleep). So no TV, and the pharmacy has the worst internet connection ever, going on and off 15 time/sec :P

I could have possibly taken this if I was working as a pharmacist somewhere else, lets take the USA for an example, where pharmacists easily make six figures ($$$$$$) per month. I, here, make four figures, of the Egyptian pound. So with some little calculations, what a pharmacist in the USA makes in four hours,I make in a whole month. With another calculation, a highschool dropout working a fast food chain in the USA makes as much as I do in just 38 hours (less than 1 week working).

Is this enough reasons to hate my being a pharmacist? Anyone has some advice and/or words of encouragement?

Photos are takin by iPhone during random moments when the pharmacy is empty, just to show how it usually looks like

37 thoughts on “8 Reasons why I hate being a Pharmacist in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt”

  1. i like your blog ans this topic in specific, because you tell us more about you!, but remember my friend enjoy everything even if it is pain, enjoy it, or if you have to work a lot, enjoy it, and i know that you will be rewarded!

    1. I am trying my best to enjoy it, but it is not very much rewarding.
      Well actually the only reward I can think of is taking vacations whenever i want to (not exactly whenever, but it isn’t as complicated as working under an annoying boss). But you can have this advantage if you are self employed anywhere, it is not being self employed that I hate, it is the pharmacy itself.

      But well, I will not lose it anytime soon, I will work on getting something better, work on my dreams, I might use this hatred to this job as a fuel to push me to work harder on my dreams ;)

  2. I can certainly relate to some of what you are describing, having gone into a career for my parents. My advice: you don’t need any reasons to hate what you do. If you hate it, you hate it. Listen to yourself, do what you enjoy in life, and keep an open mind, and eventually it will find you. Anyway, it sounds like some pretty good reasons to hate it though. I’m fascinated by hearing other people’s work experiences. Oh, and I hated Pharmacology too. So boring and just straight memorization. I never understood how anyone could do that!

    1. *throat clearing* actually pharmacology and toxicology are the only two biology “directly” related subjects that I enjoyed, probably because I took private courses in them with a professor who was really nice and made them look easy :D

      And I am certainly trying to listen to my -distorted- self now, trying to figure out what exactly what I want to do in life. But I think I’ll keep this job until I finally decide what to do and where to go, better than being unemployed I guess, atleast I’m making some money :)

  3. OHHH nosso i’m so sorry, but you have to admit that there isn’t any fun in working anyway…cheer up bro remember better men (or women in my case) have survived

    1. you can have fun working if you do something you enjoy doing, ofcourse it wouldn’t be as fun as doing it for just a hobby when you’re doing it for a living, but still i’m sure it is more fun than doing something you totally hate!

  4. If you ever thought of channeling everything you learned into something you could be passionate about? Compounding your own medicines or stepping left into another field? The Peace Corps is always looking for people with pharmacy degrees…

    Can you change the shop in a manner that is pleasing to you? Is there space to let out for other things such a tea shop or a corner for crafts..what do you love?

    1. Thanks for the great ideas :)

      The shop itself is barely taking in all the stuff we have to offer, noway of trying to have a corner for something more.

      Actually I am obsessing now about studying masters in Public Health and working with a health organization like WHO or MSF, I think that will be more rewarding than just selling drugs…atleast I’ll actually be helping needy people…

  5. I think every job has its downsides, I could write a list of reasons why I don’t like to work as a receptionist, but in the end… it’s what I am able to do:)
    Anyway yes you can quit if you want!
    And I hear you about the Sharm el Sheikh thing – It must be frustrating. I have been there for 1 night and ran away as quickly as I could :)

    1. I’m sure each job has its downsides, as I said in a previous comment even if you are very passionate about something, when that something becomes your job, you won’t enjoy doing it as much as before, take sports for an example, it is so much fun as long as its just a game but once it is professional and you are “forced” to do it whether you feel like it or not then it will not be as fun as it is supposed to be. But still, it is better than doing something you totally despise.

      and about Sharm, I don’t get why people love it that much, I mean if we are talking beach wise, dahab is more or less the same, or Ras Muhammed (even better). Yes the night life is like no where else in Egypt but it gets on your nerves, and the fact that I don’t have any friends here could just drive anyone nuts (literally:P)

      I am quitting very soon hopefully, as soon as one of my imaginary plans works out :P

  6. So basically I sell more accessories, Viagra and condoms than ‘real drugs’ through the day. HAHAHAHAAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAa. I was in the library and just burst out laughing. Bro start writing (english or arabic which ever language you feel your more comfortable in), funny man you are.

    1. HAHA :D Moose! Thanks for laughing at my misery, very friendly of you! :D

      but thanks for checking the blog out and I am planning of maintaining this blog for a while, I’m enjoying it :D

  7. Hi Mina,

    Just found your blog through your comment on mine. You’ve made it perfectly clear that this is not something that you want to be doing, and sometimes it is hard to change. But as long as you try, then it can be better.

    Remember you only have one life and in the end your opinion is the only one that ever counted! :-)

    1. Thanks for checking out the blog :) I’m trying my best right now, working on several plans all together and hopefully atleast one will work out, hopefully soon :D

      and yes I don’t want to waste the one life I have doing something I don’t like! I must make my own choices so there would be no regrets!

  8. I so empathize with you…but I work for horrible American chains that overwork their limited staff and literally cause people to die because of this. I hope you take everyone’s advice….I have to say your thoughts have even helped me feel better. It is just one part of life. We all need to make money somehow and there are worse ways. Please do not be impressed with the dollar signs U.S. pharmacists can make….too many students are now finding no openings in the field here! And they are forced to work literally like slaves. Hope you have hobbies you can enjoy, friends to commiserate with, and you definitely can use your knowledge elsewhere. All the best to you and I think all the people who are offering you their support here are great. -Alexis

    1. Alexis thanks for stopping by. And yes I do appreciate all those who are supporting me, definitely great people!

      It is not that I am impressed by the dollar signs, but more like non-impressed by the ‘under paid’ conditions here in my country, where in normal countires someone working less than I do will be paid alot more. I don’t want to go to the states and work as a pharmacist though, not in my plans :)

      I hope I get out of this trap soon, and I wish the same for you too! I’ll chase after my dreams, and someday I’ll realise them, or atleast some of them :D

      Thanks again for ur advice and for stopping by :) Keep checking back :)
      – Mina

  9. I have just started my first year in pharmacy and u have given me a huge boast :D I actually wanted to study med. :( yet I guess pharmacy does have many advantages like u get to know about chemistry and physics way more than a doctor also a lot of info about bio. and there are a lot of career options retailing is dull ! If u enjoy making drugs why don’t u try doing some ? Or travelling abroad ? Any way good luck and I hope u find ur path , I need some hope :)

    1. I’m sorry if that post wasn’t the hope you are looking for, Yara. I just needed to vent out these thoughts, specially that I have written this post on a no internet day while sitting in the Pharmacy :D

      Definitely retailing is dull, but the other options are very limited, and being from Egypt, to work in the factory or R&D and those stuff you need contacts, and some serious ones too! So I had no chance of hitting those ones :)

      Good luck to you too and I hope you too find your path :)

  10. When I was in Sharm el Sheikh recently I noticed pharmacies freely selling body building pharmaceuticals, are you saying that you cannot make a considerable trade from such lines?

    1. Owners do. Not as much as you think, however. Well, except the ones on the main strips such as Naama Bay, but if you’re outside the touristic hub you make way less! I only get wage, though…

  11. so hey that was a really good one, i came across it while making some research on pharmacy school. I live in the US and like u said the job pays really well here. although i dont really enjoy the science subjects i have decided to pursue pharmacy!! So anyways u sound really smart actually, have u ever considered coming here? and i dont know figure something out go to school here if they are able to transfer at least some of ur credits….anyhu good luck with everything

    1. Thanks for the encouragement betty :) I am actually doing a postgrad degree now in the UK, hoping to get more into the R&D part of the pharmaceutical industry rather than working in a community pharmacy. Even here in the UK I figured a community pharmacy is still the same, not really the thing I wish to do for the rest of my life (or for many years at least)
      Mina Mahrous recently posted…Thankful Thursday – Finding a Casual JobMy Profile

  12. Who told you pharmacists in the US make 6 figures a month? A pharmacy manager in the US is LUCKY to make $100,000 a year.

  13. And the cost of things in Egypt is minuscule compared to the same things in the US. Plus there are actually some values in Egypt.

  14. hi I’m a pharmacist (older than you, by quite a bit) and thought you’d like my blog on being a pharmacist, confessions of a pharmacist. I too HATED it, as you can see from my blog. But then I found a job in a tiny store in Jersey City, NJ and really like it. It’s owned by a Pakistani man and many of our patients are Muslim which is an entry into a new world for me. Anyway, I’m now two and a half years into working in this pharmacy– none of it is in my blog– and am kind of addicted to it, it’s so busy and I am appreciated so much.

    That said, I understand that your salary is lousy, that you’re working with your family (very constricting), etc. But keep your eyes open and maybe you can branch out to something you’ll like more.

  15. you should enjoy what you have and try to make the best of it, why do you have to work all the day? why not take lomg breaks and enjoy something you like… the grass isn’t greener anywher. BTW pharmacist in US make 6 figures per year not per month as you mentioned and pay 40$ taxes and big chunk go to the healthcare that you enjoy for free in Egypt . those six figgures fly in expenses you have to compare apples to apples when you look to the other side. I make the 6 figuresin US but I’ll trade you what you have , family business , annoying boss as you said but can’t fire you . you don’t have to be stressed what if they let you go, how will you take care of your family, adding to everything you live in sharm el sheikh and complaining where the nice weather and perfect shores . BE GRATEFUL TO YOUR DAD and try to find a way to enjoy some of your time off while you still have your parents around you before you regret and it’ll be too late.

  16. Dear Mina,

    I really love your blog, you have a way where you strike humor and reality in one sentence and I really enjoyed your upfront approach to your readers. This will be added on my watch list to enjoy reading while on trips and in my free time.

    Please continue blogging, blogs like these are great to read.

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