March 12, 2010

» Posted by on Jan 11, 2010 in Healthcare Reform, Life, Pharmaceutical Industry, Psychology | 10 comments

March 12, 2010 will mark a new milestone in my 57 year old chronology. It will be my last day at work (most of you know who I have had the privilege to work for) after 31 years with the company.

Right now I’m referring to it as Phase III for a lack of a better title. Phase I was my Growing Up years (the immature years), Phase II was my career years (also the immature years), and now Phase III. I’m all grown up (that depends on who you ask) and the path ahead is not marked.  I’ve never been here before.  Of course, it’s never been well marked.

Wow!  It’s been a great journey.  I started this career as a sales representative in Nashville October, 1978.  I remember this time of life so distinctly and clearly.  I had married Kathy in July of that same year and was working day and night (literally) as a surgical assistant at St. Thomas hospital.  It required long hours and being “on-call” at night.  I would often enter the door of our small apartment and then be called back to the Hospital to assist with an emergency procedure. Or I would doze off to a sound sleep only to hear the phone ring to let me know they needed me to return to the hospital.  Long hours and stress, and I was making about $13,000 annually.   I had applied to attend medical school and was anxiously awaiting their response. Driving home one dark night, I had not seen the sunshine for several days.  I went to work in the dark and I drove home in the dark.  Once inside the operating suite, there are no windows to allow in the outside rays of warm sunlight.  I remember praying “ok, God, I give up, I can’t do this anymore and I need you to intervene for me.”  I wanted a career, I was desperate for direction and I couldn’t do this by myself. I didn’t know where I was going and I didn’t know how I would get there.  That moment is still etched in my memory as if it happened only yesterday.  That night I received a phone call from a job search firm (head hunter) that changed the course of my life forever.  It launched a series of interviews which eventually resulted in a job offer.

My job has provided me the opportunity to travel extensively to places at minimal personal cost to me that I would never have been able to otherwise afford. I was fortunate to travel in Asia several times over the past 5 years conducting business in China, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and others.   I’ve met famous people along the way;  Cicily Tyson, Kathleen Turner, Glenn Close, Harry Bellefonte, Bella Abzug, Leslie Sthal, Sugar Ray, senators, congressmen, Presidents Bill Clinton (at a distance), and George Bush Sr. (at a distance), and obtained the autograph of Mike Ditka.  I’ve eaten at fine restaurants in the country and slept in the Ritz Carlton. I’ve been able to visit most of the great cities across our beautiful country. I’ve met and worked with doctors who have pioneered new treatments for Women’s Healthcare, cardiology, contraception, diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart disease. I’m not listing this as bragging points or to name drop, I’m just trying to explain the personal benefits my career has afforded me and God’s blessings.

This has been an exciting and interesting career working for one of the best companies in the world.  Pharmaceutical companies have been maligned, targeted and accused of robbing the poor and much worse.  We haven’t done everything right and mistakes may have been made. Many corrective actions have been implemented and new regulations are now a way of life. Pharmaceutical companies are no different from governments, churches, or the UAW  (United Auto Workers) in the sense that you may find unethical and dishonest people in any large institution.  However, my experience has been that 99.9% of people I’ve come in contact with are diligent, honest, ethical, and hard working people.  Our employee parking lot is usually filled by 7 am each day.  Many of the people I work with put in 12 hour days and think nothing of it.  The knowledge obtained from research and the products we make and sell have literally saved millions of lives, extended the life expectancy, decreased suffering and improved the overall quality of life. If you’re reading this, you most likely have first hand  experience of what effective medications used in the appropriate patients, and prescribed in the correct manner can achieve.  If the government continues to support the import of drugs from Canada or other outside countries, and mandate the use of generics, the flow of new drugs and innovative treatments will diminish.  This industry will be extinct as a result of government over-reach.  Today, 8 of the top 10 drugs prescribed in the world are the result of US research, innovation, science, and technology of the pharmaceutical companies.

Fast forward from October 1978 to 2010. Along with Kathy’s loyalty, support, and other family members support, my job has helped purchase houses, cars, food, clothes, healthcare, vacations, retirement plans, savings accounts, 401K, recreation, and expensive educations for 2 boys. They’ve paid for my Master’s Degree which helped to launch my “second” career in counseling. The company’s success has allowed us to give to missions, travel for missions, and help finance others in the ministry. Again, please don’t think I’m bragging, but rather consider it a testimony to God’s provision and faithfulness. Considering depth and the scope of my blessings, my contribution has been negligible.

Enter Phase III.  It shall remain untitled for the time being. In fact, perhaps someone else will provide the moniker after time has passed. Currently, no theme or mile markers are visible. It is a new season of potential.  There are some things I want to accomplish and experience.  First of all, I want to live in the present more.  I can’t change the past and I don’t know what the future holds.  I can know the present and enjoy the moment. Living in the present means stopping long enough to listen and notice the store clerk, neighbors, the waiter and waitress, my family, my friends without regard to my next appointment or item on the “to do list.”  It’s intentional focus on what is being said and what is going on around me in the moment.  Conscious living in the present moment will allow me to experience the smell and scent of country ham frying in a black iron skillet on a cold Saturday morning.  I’ll feel the texture and moisture and warmth of sugary sand under my feet while walking the inlet shore of Oak Island in North Carolina, observe wild sea oats sprouting from white sand hills, gently reaching upward, swaying in the sweet smelling ocean breezes. It’s observing the backdrop to this natural exposition which is an azure clear sky above. In front of me, it’s the shimmering vast ocean which extends from east to west as far as the eye can see. Or it could be hanging out with Kathy on Parksville Lake in the East Tennessee mountains on a hot summer day swimming in clear cool water.  It might be traveling down Rt. 100 headed for family and friends in West Tennessee.  Perhaps it’s further south where Spanish moss hangs from aging oak trees; where noisy locusts and crickets break the silence of evening with screeching tunes and chatter. It’s sitting on my screened in porch on summer evenings facing orange hues of a southwest sunset.

So where do I go from here?  We’re looking at all options which include but not limited to; dedicating more time to my local church (wherever that may be), traveling, teaching at a college or university, working on an advanced degree in counseling, writing, opening a small restaurant, consulting, life coaching, career coaching, wintering in a very warm area of the country, well… you get the picture.  These are my interests and whatever we decide to do (with God’s guidance), it will be something that gives me great satisfaction and a sense of purpose.  Of course this is the planned approach to achieving our dreams.  We can’t see the unexpected, unpredictable and unknown curves that lie ahead.  Hopefully, we’ll continue to have excellent health and healthy kids.  Perhaps a grandchild (or two, or three) will suddenly appear. This much I know is true,

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.


  1. Thanks for sharing, Rick. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s ahead for you and will keep you in prayer, too.

  2. You have been a blessing to me and I’m so glad I know you. I pray that Phase III will be the best one yet and look forward to continuing our friendship post-Wyeth/Pfizer.

  3. Congratulations and best to you for Phase 3.

  4. “Congratulations” You have done “great” my son, and I’m proud, thankful to our great God who blessed your efforts, and acknowledges him as you have done. I’m rejoicing for you because you have worked hard, and God will continue to guide you in phase three. Slow down some, and enjoy the benefits that God has provided..God bless you my son…..

  5. This is really good. I like having you as my dad. Phase III is going to be great!

  6. Congratulations on your upcoming retirement! Great job on this article!
    Hope to see you when you travel down Hwy 100 in the future. Maybe some fishing and boating?

  7. I hope that Phase III includes a lot of those moments where you can say “This is what it’s all about.”

  8. I’m looking forward to sharing Phase 3 with you. It is an adventure I’m anxious to begin.

  9. Very interesting! Wishing the best to the best D.M. I had. You provided very helpful guidance and encouragement. I am just beginning to get acclimated to what you refer to as Phase III. Hope you enjoy it!

  10. Just got around to reading this. Kathy shared Jer. 29:11 with me at a time when I desperately needed to believe that there was a “plan” that included something more than that present crisis. And I still hold on to that promise tody. Our hope for your Phase III is that it will be better that anything that you could imagine or hope for!

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