Maurice Shaw is a caring, hardworking pharmacist who happens to do REALLY funny comedy about the challenges and joys of retail pharmacy. So why would Walgreens fire him?
The answer cuts to the heart of the soul-sucking dehumanization can be corporate medicine. We talk about the catharsis of comedy, pharmacist burnout and understaffing, what a pharmacy tech does, how his comedy was always cool with his bosses until it suddenly wasn’t, his community work and background, what it’s like being Black in healthcare and the dynamics of working in minority areas, and much more.
[Zubin] Hey everyone, its Dr. Z, welcome to The ZDoggMD Show. Okay, today I okay, I’m not gonna lie, I am a fan boy of this person, I’ve been looking forward to this interview ever since the couple days ago when he reached out and this really kind email and this is Maurice Shaw. He is a pharmacist a Pharm D residency trained everything. And how do I even begin to say this he is now my officially my idol. And I’m gonna roll a clip because not only is he a pharmacist, he’s a comedian. And his comedy, which is brilliant, which is poignant, which is to the point of what we all feel in healthcare, especially in pharmacy got him fired from Walgreens. After seven years of doing this comedy. He never his district managers loved it, everybody supported him suddenly the district manager changes and he’s fired from corporate medicine pharmacy, Walgreens, now if I’m gonna call any Buddy out. I’m calling out Walgreens right now because this is a crime, in fact, look, just roll the clip and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
[Man] Hey all Mr Maurice Robinson.
[Maurice] Hey y’all doing A little bit about me, I’m a pharmacist for Walgreens. I’m a proof of what happens when you send young black kids from the Southside Chicago to college. We learn to sell drugs legally. The other day I was wearing this T shirt and it says danger, educated black man, and this lady’s like excuse me, sir, can I ask you a question? I say yo, white lady, what’s up? She’s like, what’s so dangerous about an educated black man? I’m go once I rob, I won’t get caught. People always ask me do I hate being a pharmacist? I don’t know hate being a pharmacist there’s a certain things I hate about my job. One thing I hate, I hate that everybody’s so impatient. Every time people draw over prescription they want it right away, I was at work today, and this lady had to juggle for prescription, so I said, okay, ma’am I can get your prescription ready in 15 minutes. She’s like, 15 minutes, why does it take you 15 minutes to take pills from a big bottle and stick it in a little box? I said, okay, man well, I’ll get it. I’ll get it done as soon as possible. I get her prescription done in five minutes. I said, is there anything else I can help you with ma’am? She’s like, well, I have a question. Does my new medication interact with any of my old medications, I said, I’m not really sure to be honest. I don’t know what that is I just grabbed some shipping big bottle just got them in a little bottle.
[Zubin] Maurice, welcome to the show man.
[Maurice] Hey man, thanks for having me, it’s an honor to be here. I know I watched a lot of your parodies a lot of your videos and I thought maybe you know because you’re a doctor I was like the only pharmacist that you know kind of follows you but when I posted that I was doing a podcast with you so many pharmacists and technicians reached out that they love your platform, and as you know it’s kind of mind blowing to see the kind of following that you have not just in terms of like the medical profession but also like in other health care professions like pharmacy.
[Zubin] Man you honor me you do me honor because watching that watching your comedy and I’ve seen a lot of your stuff now. You are effin hilarious dude like because you, put your sense of timing the content about what it’s like to be a frontline pharmacist and you don’t shy away from issues around race. You don’t shy away and this is what I try to do as well with limited success and you nail it and what really amazed me is when you reached out by email, man, you were just like, hey, Z I’m a big fan I just thought you’d like this. And you sent a YouTube video that starts with some of your comedy and then it goes into you explaining how you got fired for this comedy I mean, let’s walk back for a second, like, how did you even get into comedy?
[Maurice] Well, I got into comedy because people always told me that I was funny and they say, no, you should be a comedian. So I went to an open mic, and I went on stage and I’m doing your typical like dick jokes being drunk. And, I never forget a good friend of mine. Male Novid, but he’s a comedian and he was a writer for the Tribune he came up to me and I was looking at these note cards and he goes, oh, are you practicing your jokes, I said, no. I have a heart failure exams I’m studying and he’s like, what, I was like, yeah, I’m a pharmacist while I’m trying to be a pharmacist and he’s like, well, why are you doing those dick jokes, do jokes about pharmacy, people need to hear your story, and that really kind of changed my life around, and I was like, wow, maybe I should do this. I’m writing jokes about pharmacy and I and I kind of thought like, who is gonna really like this? Who’s gonna like pharmacy jokes and then I saw a good friend of mine, Levar Walker, he’s a famous comedian on TV. he’s been on a lot of shows hilarious. And he gave me kind of the hope that hey, I could do this too, if Levar can do it and be on TV, and you know being television, he can do it I can do it. So that kind of just fueled my fire and energy to keep doing it I remember I’d be in pharmacy school we’re in class all day, from eight to four, that would leave pharmacy school a little bit early, sit in traffic for an hour and a half sit outside of a comedy club, called the Laugh Factory for two hours, wait in line just for a chance to get like five, 10 minutes on stage, I did that for year after year after year, going a little shows late at night knowing I had an exam in the morning or I had to be at work. When I actually became a pharmacist you know I would leave work, go sit outside, sign up for open mic or go do a comedy show, go back, open up the pharmacy the next day you know so it’s been kind of a roller coaster and just to kind of see how all that hard work ’cause people don’t see the behind the scenes. You know working as a pharmacy manager 45, 50 hours a week and trying to do comedy and travel all over the city, across the country across the Midwest, it’s a lot of work. So I’m glad that things are starting to come together.
[Zubin] Man you know they really don’t ’cause I remember when I started doing ZDogg stuff, man like I was working 60, 80 hour a weeks as a hospitalist taking call and then post call when I get to come home at like noon, I would start making videos and I was always like disinhibited ’cause I had no sleep. And I was pissed off because of some injustice or terrible crap I saw in the hospital something where I felt I was being mistreated. And it would help inform what I was doing, is that something that happened when you were practicing as a pharmacist, did you find that like, ’cause a lot of your comedy is like, you saw this one client came up and she’s in line and this happened and I’m like, I know that I know that situation, I mean, is that how it happened with you too?
[Maurice] Yeah you know especially, you know for me, when I first started doing comedy, it wasn’t quite like that as it started when I got into YouTube, because you got to do people don’t understand how much video editing that goes into it I’ll shoot something but I’m spending so much time editing in the basement late at night, you know my wife, she’s a primary care physician so you know she works a lot of hours and you know we have a four year old daughter so I have to wait to she goes to sleep at the way to my wife goes to sleep and I have to be up and open up the pharmacy at like seven o’clock in the morning, so I’m literally from 12 to two, editing the videos cutting the audio, you understand how hard this stuff is and still gotta get up in the morning and you know it’s just it’s you know been an amazing journey just to kind of see where the hard work can take you. And hopefully it inspires other people I think if more pharmacists or doctors or nurse practitioners start using social media more, we’d have a bigger platform a bigger voice I think everybody should do that. You know even if it was something like for doctors and for pharmacists, we all got on Zoom and just told stories and people could like log in and tell tell their stories, you know so many people who’ve worked for Walgreens have messaged me, like, I’m so scared, I’m gonna get fired I wish I had a platform so I was like, well, how about we do Zoom, I’ll be the voice. You can have your video, it won’t have your face, we can get rid of the name at the bottom and you could just tell your story. You don’t have to worry about being terminated. You don’t have to worry about any repercussions and so, you know I think that everybody should be on social media.
[Zubin] Man, you know there’s so much in what you just said that resonates with me because I have said that. Part of our problem is we don’t we’re not able to communalize our pain so if something happens to you Maurice in the pharmacy, it’s almost guaranteed that it’s happening to thousands of pharmacists around the country if something happens to me as a doctor, it’s guaranteed it’s happened to a bunch of us and but the problem is, we all feel like we’re suffering alone, like we’re all in these little bubbles because unlike other professions, you can’t just go and talk shit online about your job. It because people consider to be unprofessional. There’s this HIPAA Sword of Damocles hanging over our head like at any point, the HIPAA guillotine is gonna come down so we keep it inside and what do we do it expresses an emotional detachment or in inappropriate you know ways like substance abuse, mental illness and we don’t communalize it so even what you’re saying we’re like just getting people on Zoom like if we could just talk shit on Zoom for half an hour with other fellow healthcare professionals and if I’m being honest, that’s probably why when you sent me the email, I got a lot of emails from people. Hey, man, I wanna be on your show. You never said I wanna be on your show. You said here’s a video witness, what I think my experiences that I think you will resonate with. And immediately I saw it and I’m like, that’s my experience too, now we’ve communalized our pain and that’s so powerful, so what you do with comedy is you put it out there in a way that is authentic and you and unfiltered but filtered enough that you still it’s clear that you have a deep love and respect for your patients right, and that’s what I think is so horrible about the fact that then they fired you.
[Maurice] You know what, like, comedy. Comedy actually helped me at work, ’cause you’d have an angry customer. And I remember I had this one lady, she was so upset her prescription either prior off, and she thought that it should be covered ’cause the doctor wrote it and so she was yelling, so I go over there and she’s cussing me out and I go, damn, tell me how you really feel about me. Everybody that lobby starts to laugh and you know that kind of comedy helped, de escalate the situation that you know I told her I’ll call the doctor will work on it, you know give me about 48 hours and I call her back and it kind of just changed the whole tone, she apologized she said, I’m sorry, I just frustrated but comedy actually helped. And it also helped me because you know the working conditions in pharmacy is terrible, you’ve even talked about it. And having known that I had a video that was about to drop, or I had a comedy show, it gave me something to look forward to it was like, oh, the week is gonna be terrible, but I could just make it to Thursday, I have a show Thursday two show Friday two show Saturday and it just, it helped me be a more joyful person in the pharmacy so it was kind of, like, mental medicine for me just to get through the workweek because you know I was doing 1100 prescriptions a day. 1800 flu shot goal, one hour overlap in the state of Illinois, they had mandatory counseling, all new prescriptions, put the system couldn’t tell you what exactly was a new prescription, so somebody’s getting another Norco script, it’s a new prescription and others aint prescript but they’ve been on another viagra or if a transfer from another store, so my store is so busy. We have four lanes on that for pickup and then one in drive through so it always had to scan my barcode. Do you have any questions? No, I’ve been here I’ve been on this medicine before why have to wait, I said I’m sorry, I have to count and I would go from line to line scanning a barcode, scanning a barcode, scanning a barcode drafting, then I try to go check a prescription. Everybody’s like barcode because everybody else needs barcodes, and I was just like, impossible you know my I couldn’t even think people would ask me, what do you recommend for pain and it’s just like your brain something so a question so simple, just my brain was so fried after seven hours. This is like give me a second let me you know gather myself so it comedy was really helped me get through the workweek, especially as a pharmacy manager.
[Zubin] Man, you know it’s like when we turn human beings into assembly line workers and commodity your workers that’s what they are that what you said was really powerful. The part about them they asked me a question that requires me to use my intuitive thinking brain that has we’ve lowered it to reptile brain because you’re like scan barcode, do this read the counseling, do this do that that’s a machine. It could be done by a machine why? Why did they take someone with four years of pharmacy training plus you did a residency in Iowa right?
[Maurice] Yes, a one year residency.
[Zubin] One year residency, this highly trained doctor of pharmacy and turn them into a fucking pill pushing machine that is getting you’re trying to game it to metrics that don’t actually affect patients at all. But they affect the bottom line of the Walgreens is operating on tiny margins because the pharmacy benefit managers are parasitically taking the spread, and you have people rich in these mansions and then they have people like you who worked up probably well, you in your comedy clip you said, hey, I’m a black kid from the south side of Chicago, and I got an education. I mean, this is fucking outrageous to me. And that was part of the reason I wanted to have you on Sunday you know it’s like, you know we’re, where we shouldn’t be really doing stuff, but it’s like, oh, we got to get this message out. Can we back up for a second? Just tell me a little bit about your background, because how did you kind of even get into pharmacy?
[Maurice] Well, pharmacy was something that my dad kind of brought up, he says, I think this would be a good career for you. And I wanted to be a vet so I went to University Wisconsin, I was you know the curriculum was pretty much the same. When I got to my junior year sophomore, junior year, my advisor was like, well, you’re gonna have to make a decision because you’ve taken all the classes that are required for both vet school hard to get into as well. And so eventually I decided that I wanted to be a pharmacist because I wanted to help people and even I love animals helping people was more important to me. So that’s why I decided to become a pharmacist ended up coming back home went to Chicago State College of Pharmacy, heavily involved in APHA President Elect president. I did two corporate internships with Jewel Osco. ‘Cause I always wanted to be a district manager, I thought, you know if I became a district manager and moved up the corporate ranks that I could make change in pharmacy, so I did two of those corporate internships. And I really wasn’t gonna do a residency but I wanted to separate myself from my peers. So I just applied, and I was actually chosen by the University of Iowa, which was an amazing experience. One day a week, I ran a travel clinic so people would come to me, they tell me where they were going. And I would take care of all the immunizations that they needed before they you know travel to whatever country I worked as a pharmacist, just like a staff pharmacist two days a week, every Wednesday, I ran a diabetes clinic and we had a collaborator practice agreement. So patients were bringing their blood glucose logs and I could adjust their medicine you know add medicine, take stuff off, give them medicine, train them on their diabetic machines without having to consult a physician ’cause we had this agreement so it was an amazing and experience you know I’m not that I don’t mind you know consulting doctors but when I have to say hey, can I switch Humalog to Novalog because insurance won’t cover it you know wait on hold, you know just to have a little bit more autonomy was just kind of an amazing feeling. And then I did a lot of MTM medication therapy management that was actually my residency project, what outcomes and Marissa and I work with hyvee 19 different stores I went and trained all the different pharmacists, pharmacy managers how to do outcomes, I helped them bill and if I could remember correctly, my residency project actually outcomes actually came to my presentation. And I was able to increase the amount of revenue from MTM alone by a substantial amount, so it was, you know a wonderful time everybody loves my residency project. And you know I feel like I’ve spent my retail career trying to regain that type of love I have for pharmacy ’cause to be honest, I was starting to lose it. I was hating pharmacy, no patient care. And people always ask me, if you work 50 hours a week as a pharmacy manager, where do you find time to go do a black barbershop Health Initiative meet with doctors and nurse practitioners, and I was like, well, I wasn’t getting that reward at work ’cause you don’t have time to counsel patients, you don’t have time to talk to them and go over the medicine so like that was my way of actually having true patient interaction was by starting this health initiative that you know for the black barbershop Health Initiative.
[Zubin] So the fired this guy, you guys, they fired this guy, fuck these people, man I mean, it makes me emotional. This guy cares about what he does. He is dedicated to practicing at the top of his license. He’s teaching other people he cares about his patients. He’s giving back to his community. And Walgreens fired him for being who he is. This is fucking outrageous to me, it really is. You know what you talked about Maurice is now I’m sorry, too it’s been a difficult week for me, because with everything going on nationally, and there’s been a lot of stuff going on, everybody’s emotions are running high, but what you kind of described is that human beings who care need these three things to feel like they’re doing something in the world that matters. They need autonomy, which is robbed from you in corporate pharmacy, because you have to meet these metrics, and they’re very regimented you need a sense of purpose. When you do the black barbershop stuff when you do that other stuff you’re reconnecting with the community you’re doing, you’re part of something bigger than you and you need a sense of mastery, that you actually have the tools and the resources and the autonomy to get good at what you do. And I think the reason so many in health care and pharmacy is a big piece of it are struggling is that they don’t have those things. Either one or more of those things are missing. And what you just described is how you found you fought to get those pieces back you saw it disappearing and you said what, I wanna go do this now I’m gonna do a residency because then I finally find this mastery and purpose comes back right? Does that feel right or am I crazy?
[Maurice] No, that you would you just say it was just perfect you know it’s kind of sad that, you know especially for me, you know what I kind of love I really love that slogan on the corner of happy and healthy, you know helping patients stay happy and healthy, but it you just don’t have the time to do it. I remember one time this lady would she was, I had a customer, she was yelling at me on the phone. She was unhappy that, her insurance wouldn’t cover 90 day. And this lady was like, hey, I just got this brand new machine, they gave me these land sets and test strips. And I don’t know how to use it can you show me and I said, Ma’am, I apologize, I’m on the phone, I have to take care of like four other things that really something that a pharmacist shouldn’t have to take care of someone else could do and I was like, I just don’t have the time I was like, if you can come back tomorrow, or the next day after that I can help you. And she came back two days later and said that she came back the next day, but the pharmacist just was so swamped, they didn’t have time, so basically, she didn’t even test her blood sugar for two days, because nobody would show her and no patient should have to wait and suffer two days ’cause that’s what we’re here for they should be able to maybe wait five minutes or so and then have somebody to take, you know five, 10, 15 minutes to just show them because we take it for granted that it’s simple it’s like oh, was just a, you know a blood glucose machine when we went to school for a long time, so, right, but for somebody else that’s complicated to them that’s like you handed them something in French and they’re like, how do I figure this out, so.
[Zubin] Absolutely and then the thing is, like, you’re you said something, which is we’re asked to do these very, you know these activities that were overpaid to do actually, it’s like we’re overqualified overpaid to do you could actually hire staff that do that so well. And when I talk to Shrak Engovi who’s a doctor at Penn, talking about community health workers, they do that heavy lifting that you don’t need a doctor to do, which means, the biggest cost in healthcare is labor costs, it’s 60% of our healthcare spend. So if you actually could take that and say, all right, we’re paying somebody $200 an hour as a doctor to do menial garbage like document in a EHR, we’re doing the same with our pharmacists let them practice at the top of their training and then either give them the the resources to do that counseling or give them other staff, whether it’s pharmacy techs, whether it’s other people who can help do that stuff I mean, did you feel chronically understaffed all the time or what was going on?
[Maurice] I was definitely understaffed all the time. Like at my store, I would work seven to three if I worked in the morning from two to 10 would be the other pharmacists. So from like seven to three, I would have like no overlap, couldn’t take a break standing up for seven hours, I would actually feel guilty for using the bathroom. So a lot of times I would just hold it because anytime I would go to the bathroom, they’d be paging me over the intercom. Pharmacists come back to the pharmacy ’cause people didn’t wanna wait or somebody was in drive through I remember one time I was telling you about the barcodes, and this is before you can get mandatory lunch I said, hey, I’m just gonna go in there and warm up my food, give me five minutes I’ll be right back. So the lady comes through the drive through my technicians like well, the pharmacist has to scan this barcode and talk to you about your medicine before I can sell it. She started yelling talk about she’s gonna call the police and I was like, I can’t even get five minutes to just warm my food I’m not even talking about the time it takes to eat it, which I was just gonna try to little bits and pieces here and there and, you know just that working environment and then it’s crazy too because it was understaffed we were so busy I remember feeling so bad because we’d have floaters come in in floors when making mistakes, because they’re not used to the craziness. I’m kind of used to the craziness I’d come in sometimes there’d be like 100 prescriptions for me to check that there was a right pill in the back. That’s not checking new prescriptions coming in, if it’s the right strain, the right dose the right patient, and having to try to play catch up you know there’d be so many nights where I would go to bed and I had trouble sleeping I’m like, oh my God, did I go back and double check that, you know antibiotic strength or dose or you know a lot of times when people get 90 days like it’ll come in like manufacture bottles of 30 and sometimes what happens is they’ll put the wrong label on, oh my gosh that I checked all the labels on those three bottles I forgot was so busy that got pulled in eight different directions and like, it would keep me up at night, and you know some days I’ll come and be like, oh my gosh, did that we did 1100 90 day prescriptions. And I was like, I don’t even remember checking that meaning prescription, which is sad. I feel like I should be able to remember the prescriptions I checked, but you just become a robot getting the zone. And I remember one point we were there was a point where we were kind of making too many mistakes ’cause we had a lot of new flowers coming in they weren’t used to it, so when corporate came in, they’ re like, what how can I help you and I was like you know we’re making a lot of mistakes we just don’t have enough staff. We need more hours more technicians. So pharmacists are you know isn’t all day on the phone or trying to help with the out window drive through and then their main focus was about why my wait time for the phone is over two minutes and I’m like why is that the focus like, why do you care about this metric? I’m telling you like, peak pharmacists are making mistake, technicians are so busy at the drive through they’re accidentally selling the wrong prescription to the wrong person, just because they’re in a rush trying to just grab as many prescriptions and not looking at it. And like, when your focus is about the phone wait time being over two minutes, to me, it just I started to hit a breaking point,
[Zubin] Man you know and we posted that New York Times article about the errors in pharmacy, CVS and it doesn’t, it really hits home when you talk to patients who’ve been victim to these errors. And then you talk to pharmacists who stay up at night worrying that they’ve made a mistake. And that’s the definition of what we call moral injury. It means that you’re having to serve, you’re like, okay, I wanna do the right things for patients I have to do the right thing for corporate. And then I worry about my own family and making sure I’m there for them and those things pull you in all these different directions and then you’re up at night. And then what happens is to cope with that you can either feel that and stay up all night. Or you can start to build defenses where you depersonalized, where you start using substances where you take it out on other aspects of your life, and you feel this low sense of accomplishment, we call that burnout. But that’s just the end stage, man. It’s like, any chronic disease, you have diabetes forever, you have heart disease forever, you have hypertension forever, the end stage of that is your heart burns out or your pancreas burns out, or your kidneys burn out, and then you’re on dialysis and our system is designed to do this to us not intentionally, but it’s the perfect system to take smart, caring, passionate people and turn them into people on dialysis, and the story that you tell it’s exactly that it’s exactly that and I wanna circle back more about the struggles in pharmacy because I think you and I should do a series of shows on this ’cause I wanna have you come back and say okay, here’s the other thing about PBMs or here the thing about what happens behind the counter where patients feel like they’re waiting, but this is what’s happened this is where mistakes happen. There’s so much we could talk about. But before I forget that because I’m still really pissed that you got fired I wanna go back to the comedy stuff that you did for those how many years seven years of comedy you were doing, you were doing it Walgreens was fine with it, your managers were fine with it and just walk me through what happened and what ultimately got you fired.
[Maurice] So, my district manager who first hired me, she kind of been recruiting me since pharmacy school. She kind of saw how active I was with APHA and Snowfall and different things that I was doing that had corporate internships with, Jewel Osco shadowing district manager, so she’s like, hey, I wanna hire you a Walgreens hey I wanna hire you and I was like, well, what are I really want to do a residency. So after I got done with my residency, she’s like, hey, do you still want to work for Walgreens? I know you did a residency but I’d really still like to have you, and I was like, yeah, that’s fine. And she knew that I did comedy and she still wanted me to come in, and it’s so funny another pharmacists that I know, they actually messaged me and goes, I can’t believe they fired you for that. I remember when your first district manager introduced you as a comedian at the corporate meeting so that, they’ve known for so
[Zubin] At the corporate level, yeah, they’ve known forever yeah.
[Maurice] And, you know I did my whole seven years you know the Virginia Pharmacists Association had me come out, and I did my jokes and I talked about, you know pharmacists becoming entrepreneurs, pharmacists getting involved in the community setting with the black barbershop health initiative, you know I’ve had partnerships with Pharmacy Times, they wrote articles about me in there. I actually went to their studio and I did a sassy pharmacist series online you know I’ve even had people that were district managers that come to my show and take pictures with me, I have pictures with them nobody has had a problem with my comedy except for my new district manager, and then all of a sudden one day I’m working, it’s from, I think I work from seven, my shift was seven to three. And it’s two o’clock and my district manager is like, hey, what do you got going on? And I’m like, well, I’ve an interview at 2:30 I’m gonna try to go get some food real quick, ’cause I haven’t had a chance to take a break, he said, we’ll just come talk to me in office. So I go in the office, and I wasn’t really thinking anything because the store is running pretty well. Actually, last year, I met all of my metrics. And like a couple weeks before, I was just told that the company wasn’t giving bonuses, and I didn’t get my $16,000 bonus that I worked so hard for, you know me on my store manager, but the store you know was running relatively well so then I kind of thought something was up because he shut the door. Usually when they shut the door, you’re in trouble.
[Zubin] By the way, where was this where was this store?
[Maurice] This is in Springfield, Illinois.
[Zubin] Okay in Springfield yeah, so he shuts the door, which is like, shit, right. But did it not occurred did it at that point he still wasn’t on your radar because,
[Maurice] It was the farthest thing from my mind and even my store manager she was just like sitting there like what the hell is going on? And he just tells me that you know my comedy, he considers it gross misconduct and I’m not a good representation of the company and I’m not the type of manager who wants managing a store, so I’m being terminated immediately. And I was like, dude, I get a warning everybody knew. I mean, the company had seven years to tell me that, you know this was the issue I mean, all you really had to do was say, hey, take it down and stop doing it. you know that would have been a click of a button even though I still think it’s freedom of speech and I’m not bashing the company I would say that when they asked me to take over that store, the store was underperforming, customer service scores was terrible. All the technicians hated their job. And because of my comment, because I did come out near the store as well, improve business, you could look at the numbers like if anything, my comedy, improved Walgreens, they actually gained something off of it. And, you know he’s like, what’s next? And I was like, well, I even being fired, I was like, Well, I don’t wanna leave extra work for my staff arms. And so even though I was fired, I went back into pharmacy and continue to sign control prescriptions. I want to sign off on the vaccines that I did you know it’s kind of embarrassing because I hired those technicians and they were like, don’t say anything I was like, man, I can’t even say goodbye to the technicians that I hired and they took my license off the wall. And you know the next day they told me that some of my technicians were just crying and bawling, ’cause they couldn’t believe that I was just fired like that and then they walked me out. And it was kind of crazy because like, I didn’t steal anything I was just doing comedy, and for a company that I worked for for seven years of your license taken off the wall, they hand it to you and walk you out the door was kind of heartbreaking.
[Zubin] This is the worst thing I’ve ever, this is the most unjust thing I’ve heard in pharmacy in a long time. And I’ve heard a lot of terrible stories. And now here’s a question though Is it just this district manager who’s an asshole? Or is it corporate, who do you hold accountable for this?
[Maurice] I’m just him I asked corporate that they said it’s his store it’s his decision the communication I received is that it was you know his decision so they’ll just support it but nobody else has ever said in August or September, my healthcare supervisor reached out to me and she was like, hey, based off your evaluations and how the store performing, you’re on track to go corporate, which is like a dream of mine, right? I’ve been working for this and even in pharmacy school, I did those corporate internships and.
[Zubin] It’s a pretty fucked up dream, man. I’m gonna go one day I’m gonna go corporate. But see your idea was actually changed the system?
[Maurice] Yeah and then it was like, you know they were like, well, it was in Nebraska so I was like, Why don’t wanna apply for this position in Nebraska? That’s too far but they said, there’s something closer to Chicago or you’ll be next and what broke my heart so much, I was so close to obtaining a long term goal is to have somebody just take it away from me with no warning and just fire me.
[Zubin] Can I say something do not hold corporate accountable. But you hold this manager and you say, well, he made the decision and corporate then said, well, it’s his decision I’m gonna say this, I hold you accountable corporate Walgreens, because you should have investigated what exactly happened, if you have a district manager who just doesn’t get it that district manager needs to be fired, not Maurice Shaw, who, but everything I can tell all your people who’ve followed you for all these years. It’s crazy to me, there should be some kind of investigation, some kind of process beyond just some arbitrary decision by a guy right? To me, this is the failure of corporate medicine on so many levels to take into account that we are human beings too, as well as a corporation of a collective of human beings, and that’s, what I call health 2.0 it’s this mechanized mechanical bullshit, that I think we should all stand up, you know and say like, people are standing up around the country right now, which I wanna talk about. But what if we stood up in healthcare and said, first of all, yes, we’re not gonna tolerate injustice of any kind again, but we’re not gonna tolerate it against us you know when black people talk about how they’ve been mistreated by police for generations, then you talk to a nurse in the ER, and they go, I was hit in the face by a patient I was pregnant and punched in the stomach and I talked to the cops and they won’t even fucking take my statement, this is injustice on a broad level, right? You see it at every level of society and so I’m not making an equation between the two, but I’m saying that we should all be standing for what we think is right, and without the fear of being beaten down by a faceless corporation, and the only way to do that is if we all stand up together. And that’s just a side thing that I have to get out there because it’s been on my mind quite a bit lately. But so let me ask a question, Maurice, like if you had been wave a magic wand, would you want that same job back and go back on that course, or what would you do now?
[Maurice] I’m just on to improve in the profession. I really don’t want the job back all the damage has been done all the humiliation has been done rounded really trying to use my voice to to help others, so many people have emailed me about how when they used to work at Walgreens, they were on the brink of depression I’m actually interviewing that guy from my other podcast tonight at six o’clock, he’s gonna talk about how he overcame depression, so I’m sure there’s a lot of pharmacists who probably have depression and maybe have even thought about committing suicide which he was thinking about and you know it’s just, I thought the company did me unjustly, but then when I see so many stories of people, you know feel like they were discriminated against fired because of their race, their age, their sex, their salary, like you shouldn’t be fired for any of those reasons unless you’re, you know you can’t do the job where you’re making too many mistakes. And so I just really wanted to give people a platform to be able to, you know get it off their chest, ’cause it felt like from the emails and text in and the message I’ve been getting, they’ve been holding it in and just really wanna tell somebody tell their side of the story. So I’m really working to try to give them a platform and when everything opens back up, I really just wanna get this health initiative started again, working with Dr. flack is medicine, working with an ER nurse practitioner, he was actually what he loved so much about the idea was that a community pharmacist actually came to him to do a health initiative to work together and he thought it was the perfect thing for medical students. where they could come and do blood pressures and various other things, so it’s like, it’s helping me it’s helping, you know the School of Medicine, and it’s helping the community, so that’s what the healthcare system should be pharmacists, doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, everybody working together, just to further improve the health of our community.
[Zubin] Yeah and to help each other too you know we should be supporting each other in a team. This is not heavy lifting on any person’s part. It should be a full team effort, right. And it was I have a question so what you said your wife is a primary care physician, what did she think about all this?
[Maurice] She thinks it’s unjust, because she knows every holiday where the pharmacy was closed, and the store was open I would, spend four hours of my own time away from my family, away from them on Christmas, Thanksgiving, any holidays, just to fill prescriptions, ’cause we’re so understaffed, just to make sure that we’re not drowning the next day, how would go to work early today stay late, I did flu clinics for free blood pressure screens for free, and for me to dedicate seven years of my life so much time away you know from my family for a company to just fire me like that without even a warning, she just felt like that wasn’t fair. She felt like I should probably stop doing comedy, but I feel like it’s my freedom of speech. I’m not bashing the company, and I’m not willing to let that go so.
[Zubin] Yeah, my wife told me I should delete Twitter, ’cause there’s been a lot of drama there and I’m like now no, no, I can’t this is like my voice. I have to say I have to have my voice. So let me ask you a question do you think so this was not a racially motivated firing this in any way, or was it?
[Maurice] I know when I first took over the store, all I can really say on that is when I first took over the store, it was underperforming. The technicians weren’t the best some left rehired, new technicians, the store improved, everything got better. We were getting stuff done even though we were understaffed. And, you know most of my technicians were African American, you know they were, they were all white for the most part. And then, towards the end of my term, they were black, but it wasn’t like I was just hiring just black people, it is hard to find qualified technicians. So you just hire the best people possible. And it just so happened that, you know most of my staff was black and a customer and complained and said that I hired too many black people and told management and you know it just kind of just seems like someone says that I kind of brushed it off, some people were laughing and I could look into my African American technicians eyes I like they kind of just put their head down a little bit that somebody will report that and then all of a sudden, I’m getting fired later and it’s just, you know when you try to put the pieces together, so.
[Zubin] And you know the thing is, you’re not at no point did you tell me oh, I think this is a racial thing I asked that question. I’m trying to pull it out of you and so it’s not like you’re you know saying, oh what you know I was fired because I’m black and I hired black technicians but the thing is, it’s so complicated and you know the funny thing is, it’s not funny you know I was I posted a video about the protests and how people should try to stay safe while they’re protesting because the very communities that they’re standing up for the highest risk for COVID. So wear a mask, stop tear gassing protesters that causes coughing and ripping off of the mass and you’re gonna harm these communities and somebody wrote in there and said, in a comment and said, there’s a white person and they said, in my 30 years of healthcare, I’ve never seen racism and my emotional response to that is are you fucking high, like, are you just not awake and then I realized you know what, you can see what you wanna see in the world and depending on your lived experience, and what you experience that’s what you’re gonna see. So people like that I think have never experienced what it’s like then to have to be black to have a child that you’re worried they’re driving to work and they’re gonna get stopped by the police and killed just in a routine stop or what it’s like to have your black technicians look down when some white person complained that you’ve hired too many black people. You don’t know what people don’t can’t put themselves in that experience of what that’s like, that’s why I think the funny the one of the funniest things you did in your comedy that we put in the clip is he said yes, what it’s like when a black kid from South Chicago gets an education we become legal drug dealers, you put the comedy around a spin that really is a bias right, and it’s beautiful, that’s the beauty of comedy and that was another thing that just like I would personally, I was like, how can they fire someone who’s speaking truth, you know? Can you live with everything that’s going on, I mean, can you just give me any perspective as a black healthcare worker on this?
[Maurice] You know like in my routine I talk about growing up on the south side of Chicago and, I talked to my family members and I say, what is it like over there, you know they tell me that people busted out all the gas stations and you can’t get gas in your own neighborhood, you gotta leave your neighborhood to get gas or they burned down the Walmart and all the other places to get food. I think the only place that they didn’t burn down was Popeye so if you wanna get healthy food, you have to leave your community and if the only thing people can really eat is unhealthy food that even that adds to the health disparities that we already see in the African American community and I feel like when we fight over race, nobody, wins sometimes things have just boiled over. I don’t know necessarily agree with the looting and rioting because I mean, I agree with the rioting to a certain degree because now everybody’s watching and listening but literally the community I grew up on the south side is destroyed, you know all the stores, are messed up all the gas station you can’t go to people want a place to get fresh food, so I was like, I’m so torn you know in between, you know I don’t think stealing from stores, especially like black own stores is the answer you’re just hurting everybody and nobody wins and even in this situation, I have a Walgreens nobody wins. Like I don’t really win from not having a job. Walgreens really doesn’t win from this negative press like and ultimately, like I said, we should all just love each other anybody who knows me knows that I don’t care about race, I hire black techs white techs gay techs Muslim techs like I don’t really care, you know my wife is black, my daughter’s 100% black, but my daughter’s godfather is 100% white he’s my best friend we’re in pharmacy school together and I think that everybody we should just after this just realize that there are some injustices everybody needs to come together and then we move forward because in the end nobody wins and I compare that to my situation I don’t think me or Walgreens really benefit from this situation we both actually have probably lost something me humiliation and just kind of my job and stuff I’ve been working on and you know they’ve probably lost some reputation so it’s really unfortunate that one person couldn’t just did a better job of talking or communicate or handling that situation.
[Zubin] And what you’re talking about is really is seeing all sides and being balanced and understanding that again, like you said, it’s no one wins when it’s just straight conflict when it’s just pure emotion, it’s I struggle so much with this man because, when I was young and growing up in the very white conservative part of California, the Central Valley you know people would directly say, you know are you some kind of Iranian, like, you know this is during the drama and you know what kind of name is that and like this kind of thing, and you just it’s like a little series of paper cuts that starts to add up. But then when I look inside myself, I see my own biases that were conditioned by growing up in the 70s, you know having these sort of unconscious biases that then I have to watch and see, oh, what am I doing here? When I think about this person, and then you have to override it so we do the best we can as humans, we have to admit when we’re struggling, and that’s why I hate like call out culture and this kind of thing because it just assumes that everybody is evil and out for conflict and there’s only two sides and good and good and evil and that’s it and it’s so much more complex in it.
[Maurice] It’s funny thing I’ll tell you at the end of my comedy sets, you know when I do my comedy, I just go through my experience at Walgreens so, they had posted me at a Walgreens in Chinatown so I talked about that experience, you know I don’t speak the language, I’m by myself that is so difficult.
[Zubin] My wife is Chinese, I could imagine the jokes, man.
[Maurice] It is like, they put me at a Walgreens and all Hispanic area, and I don’t speak Spanish and, then they put me on the west side of Chicago, which is really rough and then, you know after I left Chicago, I worked in a predominantly all white area, and so I always finish off my set, like, what I’ve learned, I worked in Asian areas, black areas, Hispanic areas, all white areas, when you’re a pharmacist, and people get to know you that they tell you more about their health issues, but they tell you about their personal issue, what’s going on with their husband or their kids or whatever financial issues, and I learned whether you’re Asian, black, white, Mexican, we all go through the same things in life. We all deal with the same medical issues so instead of focusing on our differences, we just need to realize how much we are like kind of just move on together and that’s how I end every, almost all my comedy shows.
[Zubin] Man see, that’s comedy, with heart and message. That’s a beautiful message, when I think about health care, when we have to take care of everybody, we have to take care of the neonazi who comes in with a swastika, right? We have to take care of everybody people that you may have innate bias or bad experiences with when you were a kid or whatever it is, you have to step up and it’s the great equalizer because working with every different type of person you learn to hate everybody equally across the board, it’s just all humans are trapped, now I’m kidding but what it is essentially, oh, go ahead, go ahead.
[Maurice] No I was gonna say I can’t even tell you working in the last hour was that how many people might have given a flu shot to the head, make America great again, hats and I was like, okay, let’s see how this is about to go, but you know they’ll always it the first thing to say oh, that damn Obama care, I’m like, oh shit, here we go to be about Obama, but what, no matter what, we probably had different differences in our political views, but they all left that immunization room laughing and saying thank you and that scene in comedy is able to bring people together, even if their views are different and that’s why I love comedy.
[Zubin] I’m with you that’s why I do what I do too and my whole thing is like, you can love somebody with different political beliefs, even if they’re pretty radically different if you see the underlying core of who they are right, and you share a commonality and that’s a good example of that, and it’s actually taken me a long time and I used to be pretty kind of set in my ways and in my bubble, and like, anybody who thinks differently is evil just not getting it, and then you go out in the world and you start to see the shades of grey and the shades of purple actually in the world and you say, you know everybody’s doing the best based on their moral matrix, and we can start to nudge people in a direction we think is better for the most people like, for example, racial injustice is bullshit, like in no society, is that gonna be a productive way to grow and utilize all the talent we have in the world? Just from a practical standpoint, right? But then so the response to that is to deny it exists ’cause nobody says it’s a good thing well, then you deny it exists, well, so then we have to wake people up to where it does exist and show them and, it’s you do it in a loving and connected way, not in a polarizing, you know way and it’s hard It’s hard to do that, especially when we’re emotional, so it’s really tough actually, I love the way you end that set, man, that’s just amazing. And, you know can we talk about race? That’s the thing about comedy, it gives you a license to say that stuff, man, you you did one piece in your set I remember you were like, so I had a patient come in and she said, my name is Maria Gonzalez, and I said, Ma’am I can only treat one person at a time now like that’s.
[Maurice] Yeah, with pharmacy too it’s like you know there’s cultural differences and if you don’t understand the culture sometimes there’s that kind of gap and that’s why I think it’s so important to have diverse healthcare workers because I probably can do a good job of educating, you know African American patients about hypertension and diabetes, but then trying to relate to a Hispanic patient, you know I might, I don’t fully understand the culture as well as maybe a Hispanic pharmacist who could do a better job than me and that’s why I think it’s important as healthcare professionals that you know I like it when I see diverse healthcare professionals, black, white, Asian, I think it you know that’s needed.
[Zubin] That’s why I think it’s important to have, you know whether it’s community health workers, whether it’s other staff physicians that kind of feel like their community a little bit, it’s not a like for, say, a pharmacist or a doctor, maybe it’s not 100% necessary, because you just there’s shortages and we need to go where we’re passionate. Like maybe we love serving that community, but we speak a little Spanish and so on, but if you get a community health worker who’s black from the neighborhood where you’re trying to help they understand that community, that’s what we did at our clinic too like we had these health coaches and they came from that community they served right like one of our health coaches wasn’t had an EMF background was paramedic and happen to be a bartender at like the Wynn Resort and Casino understood casino workers understood alcoholism could get a alcohol history that you didn’t have to multiply by five to get the actual number and that kind of thing was a bridge to the community because a lot of times, doctors are very, we’re buttoned up and we’ve been through a process of conditioning and so on. So having that bridge was was kind of important. What’s the role of the pharmacy tech man help me understand this ’cause I think a lot of my audience doesn’t get this.
[Maurice] Well, the role of the pharmacy tech really just assist the pharmacist and really Help them free up the pharmacist so they can do more clinical things and the role of the pharmacy technicians actually expanding. I think that the pharmacy technicians are actually underutilized in especially it since the pharmacists are so busy ’cause I’ve met a lot of pharmacy technicians that I was like you could be a pharmacist, if you wanted to go to pharmacy school, but they kind of just see how the profession is has been going and don’t want to do that but a lot of the pharmacy technicians are super smart and brilliant people, but really the pharmacy technicians they generally take the prescriptions, they look at it to make sure that you know everything is complete on it to make sure that the prescription isn’t expired, they really assist the patients and the biggest thing in health care. A lot of times people don’t take their medications because they can’t afford it or it’s not covered and they do an amazing job of contacting the insurances, making sure that they can get a prescription to be covered, or if they got to switch it to something else doing the insurance part of it, which helps with patient adherence, patient satisfaction and just the overall outcome if they don’t have to have so if a patient comes in it on like, Brilinta or something, it’s like, oh, it’s not covered or, and then they tell the patient, they just got to figure it out they’re probably just like, calling the doctor’s office, I don’t know what to do and they need to start that medication but the technicians really, they take that on and they try to help the patient whether it’s finding a manufacturer coupon or a discount card and doing whatever they got to do technicians, they also fill the prescriptions, so they’ll grab the prescriptions off the shelf, they’ll fill it put the label on and they also bring out the customers, they also help us identify gaps in care like if somebody is diabetic. Hey, have you had an ammonia shot the pharmacy technicians interact with the customers and say hey, let me let the pharmacist come over and talk to you, so they really help us make sure that the patients are getting their medications, getting it through the insurance, they’re filling it interacting with the patients, helping us identify gaps, like I said, immunizations they may need, maybe if somebody’s not adhering to ask the customers like, hey, would you like a 90 day supply? That way, it’ll stop you from having to come every three months, so that’s really just their role, I know their role is expanding to some places where I’ll call for transfers, usually a pharmacist have to talk to another pharmacist for a transfer but you know some places technician can do that, especially if a pharmacist is too busy to kind of do that transfer, so their role is to really assist the pharmacist and help the patients.
[Zubin] Do you do you see any turf wars between like the techs and the Pharm Ds like in terms of now you’re encroaching on my stuff right now?
[Maurice] I don’t see that now because we’re so overwhelmed. If we maybe if we worked in a perfect work environment with pharmacists actually had time to do their jobs. But now since, we’re so understaffed that I don’t think they see that, sometimes, I’ve seen where, we’re doctors, right, I’m the big dog, so I’ve seen pharmacists talk to technicians a certain way and that’s usually when it comes, you know the little turf or when it’s like, whoa I’m the pharmacist you do this, and a lot of my technicians are like, oh, my God, that rude floaters coming, I hate when he comes, he’s so rude condescending. Why’d you take a day off? I’m like, I can’t even take a day off ’cause you guys don’t like the floaters who come in here ’cause they disrespect you.
[Zubin] Constant guilt constant moral injury, it’s like wait, now come on, man oh, man so that happens in pharmacy too, ’cause I know what happens in medicine and happens across the board oh, this guy’s on shift in the ER now and he’s a tyrant and you’re just like, why, why? You know and the thing is like there’s a lot of the public doesn’t understand the struggle man, they’re like, why am I waiting, 15 minutes for my prescription and they did they just don’t understand the amount, that’s what I love about your intro clip, man, you’re like, yeah, so I’m just gonna take the pills from the big bag, put them in the small bottle. It’s like, yeah, that there’s more to it that you don’t see. And you guys are, extremely trained to do this stuff with so here’s another question, now you’re free from the corporate matrix right now your wife is still employed yeah?
[Zubin] So you’re not gonna be on the street tomorrow right? In other words,
[Maurice] I won’t be on the street. If anything not to cut off but I actually apply, I was like you know what? Let me use my residency and I apply for a job at a hospital interview, I said, you know what, I know I don’t have any hospital experience, but I did a residency and I’m willing to work very hard just to learn hospital, and they actually gave me the job, but when Coronavirus hit they were losing so much money every day because they couldn’t do standard procedures I got furloughed, so I’ve technically been fired twice in four months.
[Zubin] You know I’m starting to think it’s not them it’s you bro.
[Maurice] 2021 where you at?
[Zubin] Yeah, where you at right, exactly, man. Yeah, 2020 is like we’re ready to flush this whole year down the toilet man when you get fired from the first job.
[Maurice] The first one I got fired from was in January.
[Zubin] Okay, so just to start off 2020 with that event and then get furloughed from the second one but now see, now you’re working technically from home and you’re actually influencing people in a way that is very powerful. So you’re gonna continue doing that I hope because I will draw, I will send as many people as I can, we’re gonna put links to all your stuff so that people can see that. But I want you to be the better I was gonna say be the ZDoggMD of pharmacy, but that would be too weak, you gotta be way better than me because I’m an amateur but I think you can do so much good for your profession and for patients to who will then start to understand what’s going on, man. So you know I’m really impressed when I saw your clips and listen, my wife doesn’t laugh at anything, anything, and especially stuff I do, she’s like, you’re the least funny person I know I’m married you to make sure I someone told you that on a regular basis but she saw your stuff and she’s like, you need to have this guy on the show like yesterday, I don’t know what you’re doing, so that’s something because my wife, she’s a radiologist, she hangs out with nerds all day in the dark and if you can make her laugh, it’s like you’ve hit something, so there you have it, man like you have the talent.
[Maurice] Thank you so much, I mean, that means a lot to me.
[Zubin] Man it’s really a thrill and now. What I wanna do then is I would love to, let’s just push a lot of people check out your stuff, I would love you to keep doing what you do. And then when you have something like let’s do a thing on PBMs together, let’s talk about some other stuff so that you can we can share our audiences and really reach as many people as we can ’cause so important and what so any other any other stuff you’re doing right now that you wanna anyone to know about anything else you want to say before we wrap up at or our point.
[Maurice] Something that we kind of touched on earlier or we talked about how we felt like pharmacists or other health care professionals should have a voice so they’re more likely to stand up, I’m a big believer that pharmacists and healthcare professionals should also be entrepreneurs and have side jobs because I think a lot of the reason why pharmacists don’t wanna stand up ’cause all their income comes from pharmacy so if they get fired, they’re kind of screwed whereas if you’re a pharmacist, and maybe you own a building, if you wanna stand up or protest or have to strike you don’t care as much because you have income from another source. So I’ve interviewed on my pocket actually interviewed a guy who got fired from retail, from Duke for doing a YouTube video, I’m not bashing the company. They call them in when they first found out, they said, we just don’t know where this is gonna go, we’re gonna fire you and the same day as he was trying to apply for envoy, I think his dad died to the same day that he got fired and he started applying for other jobs and then he just was like, why am I doing this? I don’t even wanna go back to retail because the conditions are so terrible and he just stopped interviewing, he opened up his own company and now he’s all his business is based on YouTube as an influencer and he’s doing well he actually helped me to look at the analytics of YouTube to better gauge my audience and that’s how my views went up I think it says in the last like 28 days, I have 63,000 more views and he’s helped me a lot. And you know I’ve interviewed other pharmacists who are like health and body coaches where they’re still a pharmacist, but she helps people lose weight and be healthier and I think when you have that, and pharmacy is not your only income, you’re more willing to stand up for the profession, so I’m doing podcasts on that and I’m also doing a podcast on mental health I had a technician who was so stressed out that she had to take a leave from work, because her depression was just getting too much for and she’s been brave enough to come talk to me we work together at Walgreens and another guy who was a pharmacist and just he was about to commit suicide and he’s no longer in retail working someplace else, and gonna talk to him, so I really wanna bring up issues that probably people don’t normally talk about, to kind of move the profession forward and hopefully these dialogues will bring about change.
[Zubin] I love this so much, dude. I really love this, I love what you’re doing this is exactly what my MO when I started doing this and, the truth was, I could have been fired early on. And as two years into being ZDogg I realized, okay, I’m no longer gonna be complicit in this stuff, like I’m gonna leave and I was an entrepreneur too and actually had to close my clinic and then I had no paying clinical work. Everything I did was volunteer so what it meant was I could advocate the way I felt like I needed to advocate I could drop F bombs on my show if I wanted and I get the angry messages from people that were like, you’re unprofessional. And I’m like, oh, fuck off and be the voice that I feel like I have to be whether or not it’s completely correct. And often I make mistakes, I more often than I would like to, but I try to own them, but the thing is, if you make a mistake, or you don’t, you could lose your job for speaking out when it’s you against the system. But when it’s us all together, and like you said when you’ve diversified, it reminds me of that Chappelle skit. Remember that was Wu Tang financial? and yeah, and the Wu Tang clan talking to these two white guys and they’ re like, you got to diversify your bonds it’s like that’s hilarious but that’s that’s life. It’s like you have to diversify yourself so that no one thing is gonna take you out and you’ve already done that man because what you’re doing is your real passion and you’ve combined two callings into one and I really got us, I got to give you a shout out for that man.
[Maurice] Yeah, it was kind of unfortunate with everything that went on with Corona that I’m no longer you know I kind of lost this business but that’s the reason why I opened up a barber academy, so I opened up my I took my own money I opened up on the east side of town, which is underdeveloped, lower income area, I opened up a barber academy so people could learn the trade of barbering, and I also partner with the Urban League where felons who wanted to turn their life around to learn barbering and not have to pay for it and then I have opened up a barber shop so they could get job training and job placement, but it’s just kind of how everything kind of felt with Corona and the businesses that things didn’t quite work out, but I’m still trying to work to get things back together because that was where the hollow the hole health initiative was gonna work together I planned it all out, we do the barbershop then we do the Health Initiative, and we can help felons you know learn, get a job learn and training for free given job placement as well as proved the health of the community. It seemed like a win win but, things just didn’t work out. But we’ll get back eventually.
[Zubin] It’s gonna be back man, and people are gonna hear about it here and they’re going to help and it’s the community all come together, man you know one thing I want to say, and I don’t know if this is right, but it feels right to me as if we just decriminalized, so we talk about the roots of injustice and all of that but if we decriminalize drugs and stop prosecuting people for minor drug crimes, we would decrease the amount of conflict and potential for injustice by an order of magnitude so there are systemic things we can do. Many people will disagree with me about this because they have moral issues with drug use, but the truth is, drugs are gonna be used whether or not you make them illegal. And so the question is, can we create a very smart people tend to wanna promote this a decriminalization, which would then reduce the amount of police officers that are necessary, reduce the amount of friction and it’s just something I wanted to make sure I mentioned before we wrap up the show ’cause you know it I’m curious, do you have any strong feelings on that yourself have you ever thought about that?
[Maurice] Yeah ’cause I’ll say this my business partner, he’s an amazing guy early on in his life, he is a felon, but early on in his life, he kind of got out on the wrong path. His mom used to clean homes, you know it was just him and his mom and somebody’s house that she was cleaning, caught on fire and he lost his mom and he said, after that he was on his own, and he just was no good, to society he was in the streets, selling drugs, just trying to make ends meet I can’t even imagine not having my parents like, I know, I wouldn’t be a pharmacist or done anything I’ve done if I didn’t have my parents and he got out and he really wanted to start his own business to help other felons so they, wouldn’t, go down the same path whether or not like, hey, I became a barber and changed my life around, and he really was wanted me to do this with him at first I didn’t wanna do it. I’m like, I’m a pharmacist, why would I want to do this? And he kept, it’s funny, he’s smart, but he doesn’t really want to use his words very well and beginning he kept saying, he meant to say I wanna help people transition from the street life to the entrepreneurial life but he kept saying transgender, I was like, I don’t wanna help people transgender, dude, he’s like, we can do it, it’d be simple. I like, that’s not a simple process, sir, he’s like, I think I’m messing up my words I was like, I hope so but the fact that nobody would give him a chance. He had this amazing vision and he every day he’s like, brother, I just love you, you gave me a chance you helped me make a dream come true and nobody would give him a chance to do this because he was a ex felon all from most of this stuff was drug related and you had some unfair circumstances in life and it’s like, it’s almost like until I came, it’s been held against him and he wants to do things the right way but it’s hard because people hold that over him, so.
[Zubin] You know we we talk about white privilege and the privilege that comes with being born a certain color, but we don’t often talk about the privilege that comes with having parents. You know whether it’s one or two solid parents that like you said, you wouldn’t have been a pharmacist, I wouldn’t be a doctor without my parents, my privilege was having two parents that were deeply interested in my success. you know even as an immigrant and they came with nothing in their pocket and to have that is such a it is a privilege. And so the question is, how do you pay that privilege forward, and you’re doing it by taking someone who did not have that privilege, and saying, I’m gonna give you a chance because I see inside who you actually are right? And you haven’t had a chance to express that’s if we could do more of that I think a lot of this division and societal strife would heal but it’s just very hard on a systemic level when it’s so you know it’s been going on for so long, that’s a cycle like a vicious cycle but man, that’s really awesome that you did that I hope it restarts you know once this crap is over which by the way what I think is gonna happen, you’re gonna have all these big protests people face to face half of them not wearing masks and we’re not gonna see anything happen with it like it’s actually gonna continue to climb and we’re gonna be like whoops and then we’ll just get back to work because it’s probably the summer effect and the fact that outdoors the virus doesn’t survive as well as it does indoors, a lot of the spread is inside and I think that’s what we’re probably and again, this is my nostradamus prediction, I’ve only limited evidence for this so nobody listened to me, but I like to just say what I think so i think that might happen then we’ll start to open up more and the businesses and the entrepreneurs like yourself who’ve been affected by this which we never talked about, you know we talk about all the health effects in the black community say off COVID which are huge but then we don’t talk about and by the way, it’s all the like patient transporters and, front desk clerks and staff in New York that were getting infected in healthcare because they didn’t have the high grade PPE that the doctors and the nurses and ICU people had, and they were predominantly lower income minorities, so we don’t talk, we talked about that. But we don’t talk about the economic devastation to those same communities from the lockdown and so I think we have to look at all of that when we think about the balance we’re trying to strike, but any thoughts on that, or?
[Maurice] Yeah, I mean, the virus definitely had a major impact and the thing that I think about the most is that what the Health Initiative I had, I saw, they had this statistic in Chicago, I can’t remember the exact numbers, but in terms of death, that Coronavirus was affecting the black community, way worse than any others and the thing is, a lot of them had a lot of underlying conditions and a big problem is that a lot of people in the black community are so busy two, three jobs got a lot of stuff going, nobody has time to go to the doctor ’cause they’re just kind of just running around, people are just scared of the healthcare system and don’t wanna go or don’t want to have to pay a copay, they can’t afford it and they have these underlying conditions that they don’t even know, which is why I really wanted to get this started so we can help people like, oh, you don’t even know that you have hypertension, or you don’t even know that you might be pre diabetic and then the more that people know, that might have saved a lot of people to try to get their you know conditions under control.
[Zubin] Why do you think there’s such a distrust of the healthcare system from your perspective in that community?
[Maurice] So I do, I partner with Blue Cross and we had a health initiative where I did blood pressure, blood glucose, and they had like an HIV van stand outside and I would take their blood pressure and I said, your blood pressure is kind of high and they were like, yeah, I was told I had high blood pressure but I stopped taking the medicine I never went back and I said, well, why did you not go back? And they’ll say, well, I had a job and then I got laid off and then I had public aid and then the doctor that was going to do one take public aid and had to see somebody else and then somebody else wanted to switch my medicine just got too confusing, so I stopped and it’s just but they’re like, I don’t feel I don’t feel bad and I’m like, that’s not how this works and it’s like the education piece behind it you know they’re like, well I don’t feel bad so I must be okay and that’s what happens to a lot of people and so he was you know ’cause I look like him and you know I know I have a fancy shirt on now but under this I’m covered in tattoos and people like.
[Zubin] They all say mom but you know.
[Maurice] You know so many times my booth people like man, it’s so nice to see a black doctor like yourself to kind of look just like me to see that what you’re doing and I’m so proud of you and they actually, take what I’m saying to heart because they’re impressed by me and they made a point and that’s why I love the doctor that was working with SEIU because he’s like it, I don’t care what insurance they have, just send them here and we’ll help them out and that’s how it should be, you know and not people getting denied ’cause they have this insurance or that and, or maybe they can’t afford, they’re worried about I don’t wanna pay the copay to come in all the time to keep getting their blood pressures recheck so.
[Zubin] Yeah, it seems like and you have communities where like you said, the food isn’t great, you don’t have good opportunities for fresh food, fresh food is expensive. Exercising can be very difficult when you’re working multiple jobs or whatever’s happening or it’s not safe in your neighborhood and then you have the chronic stress or there’s some theories that especially young black men are under a lot of this sort of low grade stress all the time, that has to do with all of this systemic stuff, and that creates a kind of high cortisol system that promotes high blood pressure, weakened immune system all the other stuff that can lead them to diabetes, hypertension, congestive heart failure, early strokes and heart attack and of course puts you at risk for COVID complications ’cause these are inflammatory states, and again, we have to break that cycle it’s really cool that they were able to see you as not other and say, oh, this is someone from our community who’s actually and listen more, but you need that, that’s why I think the community health worker thing is nice, ’cause you can have a lot of folks from the community that are screened for their engagement, like we all know those people in our neighborhood that are just like, you just wanna give them a hug and tell them your life story like they’re just that good person, right? You can find those people and send the match, give them some training and send them out and they could do that heavy lifting to connect the healthcare system which is nameless and faceless and scary and expensive to the community and make it feel like this is why the blood pressure what matters to you, let’s hear what you care about, okay, well to get you to that goal that blood pressure’s got to be treated because if you lose your sight you’re not gonna be able to do this thing that you love you know something like that but it’s hard there’s no easy answer.
[Zubin] Yeah what do you think Maurice? So we do we do a thing here?
[Maurice] I think this may be one of your top five videos.
[Zubin] Why just put it in the top five just say best I mean, come on.
[Maurice] You got some pretty good videos, I gotta give it to us, especially love your pharmacy one, I don’t know if everybody else loves it, but my favorite video of yours is that little Zan.
[Zubin] Oh man, ativan, ativan, ativan, ativan, ativan, belt full of meds call me Batman. No, but what the Biz Markie pharmacy joint was one of my favorite to do it wasn’t as popular just ’cause it’s kind of an old you know Biz Markie what are you gonna do? But you know baby you, you got a farm dude but you say I just dispense and you hate those PBMs oh, baby there’s so much fun into there it is, man yeah, hey will you do a collab with me on a music video if we do something?
[Maurice] Definitely you just had time and I’m there.
[Zubin] I wanted to do a Jake oh, go ahead.
[Maurice] No, I was gonna say I did part of the best one I have is the the old town bro and, you gotta stop understaffing.
[Zubin] Oh, can you send me that?
[Maurice] Yeah, I’ll send you that which is funny ’cause even that my old district managers like that video yeah, they didn’t even think was girls this time
[Zubin] Didn’t even bother, good people, oh this new guy well you know we won’t name names, that new guy needs to go but you know oh, yeah oh, man. We’re planning at some point I wanna do Jay Z Kanye, like, doctors in Paris like the equivalent of that you know farm so hard motherfuckers never find me even Jacob wanna find me what’s 50 grand you know what’s 50 grand to a student loan like man, can you please remind me,
[Maurice] We could do a I’m so understaffed they came find me
[Zubin] Oh, I like that so understaffed that can’t find me oh, that’s great, man, there’s so much and I do wanna do I want to do Shaggy it wasn’t me about like over prescribing antibiotics I showed it came and then she coffin none wesen you know gonna go the ask the fom D how could I forget that you know antibiotics don’t treat bacteria whatever, or virus and then he’s like, I gave a Z but she doesn’t have you know a bacteria, I gave a Z yeah, we have terrible ideas and we’re gonna execute on everyone of them
[Maurice] I think it’s a great ideas. I think a lot of times when I make a parody he was like, oh, you should do another one, but they don’t realize like how much it takes to like edit that actually the word is like, I’m exhausted just thinking about when I’ll do another one, I need a break and then I was like, I get re energized and they wanna do another one, but it’s just
[Zubin] That that’s so true like how many people I get to talk about this one, so I’m just gonna do a little therapy session right now because we’re still recording I don’t give a fuck, so you
do a parody it is this epic undertaking, which means you better choose your parody, right, ’cause you’re gonna spend the next weeks just going crazy about it, like right now we’re working on done which is a parody of stand by Eminem about an anti vaxxer right, so he’s like, D and Z I Facebook message but you must have missed it, I sent some links to prove vaccines will turn your dog autistic, it’s peer reviewed, natural news is hella journalistic the editor is gluten free, a vegan psychic mystic you know and so, I just long ass rap I got to memorize it all I shoot the videos, that ton of work and then you’re spent you can’t even and then what happens is motherfuckers send you about 30,000 ideas right? Like how many ideas you get man have you done OPP about farm D have you done and you’re just like, please just kill me dude now I know how weird outfields he probably gets a million of these.
[Maurice] Yeah, so many people especially they would say, oh you should do this or you should do this video bashing Walgreens, in my videos ever bash Walgreens I’m like, no, that’s a stupid idea not doing that, that doesn’t benefit the profession that video they want to do one, like, make fun of the patients who are addicted to drugs, I’m like, we’re not here to make fun of patients who are addicted to drugs, we’re here to help them not doing that video that’s stupid you know.
[Zubin] Wait, wait, wait, stop, so you’re telling me that your videos have to have a mission and this is the thing so people will tell you do all this shit and you’re like, and what’s the point, well, how will that make the world better while making us laugh and making this groove? No, it won’t well, then why the hell would I do it? Even at Adevan, right? That whole thing like you think it’s just a throwaway thing about sedating patients, there was a message there, which is we oversedate, we overuse these medications and they’re part of our culture, so we better think about that, because they cause harm and that’s why I was put a thing at the end. I’m like, we can’t this the song is not about overstating patient, why would you do that? And we need to, and then we have a little bit of comedy around that, but that’s the thing, right? So you see, get a ton of people messaging you with the stuff?
[Maurice] Yeah, just, there’s all the time I even get it, when I go on stage, my dad’s like, hey, you should do this joke. I’m like, definitely not doing that joke on stage.
[Zubin] Wait a minute, dude dude, dude, your dad gives you jokes cause my dad, he fucked, he’s Indian he calls me like, I got a couple of jokes that I faxed to you he faxes, fucking jokes I can’t do, I’m gonna fax these jokes to you because you got to put them in your app like wedding query comic one time he told some family friends ’cause I started getting bigger and he was like, people don’t understand that this is the ZDogg, whatever he is, is a chip off the old block. I’m the comedian, really that’s what he got it from and I’m like, actually, that’s a complete lie it’s my mom who’s funny as hell like, I don’t know what the hell you talking about.
[Maurice] I think to me the craziest thing when people will comment and they’ll be like, what pharmacy I can’t believe Walgreens let him do this in the pharmacy, I’m like, you don’t realize that the green screen like I don’t need logo or background or waiting area I’m like, what?
[Zubin] That’s the best man one time I when I was still at Stanford, and I was doing these videos, I went in, I snuck in with a camera and I just videotaped backgrounds and then I green screen myself into all those backgrounds so they’re like, hey, did you shoot in the hospital, no shot in my bedroom with a green screen but people people don’t get it, they’re how’d you do that thing on the elevator where you were floating over the elevator? I’m like, yes, so trade secret, if I told you I’d have to kill you, it’s like it’s a green screen. Do you do all the editing yourself?
[Maurice] Yeah, I do all the editing, I remember when I first started, I would have somebody help me but I was always waiting on his time, I started watching YouTube videos, YouTube videos and then I just kind of did on my own and then once I actually got kind of good at it I was like this is actually kind of cool to edit you can do these transitions and then it’s kind of, something that I just love to do just another hobby.
[Zubin] I love it too I really got into it I Logan tries to edit our stuff and then I always override and like redo it and then ended up going back to his edit because he’s a professional but I just love the process of finding the story in the edit from all this footage you know.
[Maurice] I think one time on another thing we should do is like for me, my huge passion is fish tanks, they’re calming. I like huge fish tanks and I posted it once and.
[Zubin] Marine tanks or marine tropical?
[Maurice] I do freshwater I am sick tank, I’m working on a discus tank ’cause it just I would come home from work. Be so stressed on I just looked at the fish and then it just calm me down but I remember when I posted something so many healthcare professionals have these hobbies and I think it’d be kind of cool Just kind of just talk to see what everybody’s hobby is, outside because a lot of times it’s easy to just get wrapped up where there was points in my life where my life was all pharmacy especially when I first started I’d go to work I picked up shifts I go to sleep oh, we had a call off I know you work 10 hours can you go work the overnight shift? oh yeah, go work overnight and get to go to your day shift in the morning and it’s just like, I think when people develop hobbies or learning new hobbies they want to take it actually make their life better their work experience better ’cause they got something to look forward to, so.
[Zubin] I’m with you, man ever like when I started cooking math as a hobby, I found that it was not necessarily calming, but it kept me you know kept me sane, I mean, all joking aside the same thing when I started my career as a hospitalist, I didn’t have any hobbies and then I was like, I need a hobby and so I started getting into audio gear like high end stereo equipment and so you know vacuum tubes and like analog records and this kind of like obsessing over and it allowed me the outlet to like, get my OCD out in a way that wasn’t harmful, right except to my wallet, which I ended up having to just stop. Because I was like this is this is bringing nothing to the world, I’m listening to music because I love it, but I wanna create music, that’s what I wanna do, even if it’s not very good, that’s what I wanna do that’s so crazy. If I and I, there’s so many like medical people that have these side hustle hobbies, some of them they monetize, some of them, they don’t, I was lucky that I was able to monetize what I love doing, which is talking to people making funny videos, caring about the profession and trying to make it better, and it’s great that YouTube and Facebook and Patreon and these kind of things give you opportunities to actually make a living doing that. And you can combine it with your clinical practice or you can do clinical practice voluntarily like I do. And the great thing is now, there’s no way I’m gonna recertify for my ABI am internal medicine boards when it’s all busy work, and I’ve come out and said that it’s terrible I’m gonna take the alternative boards from NBPAS which I’ve done, and I can take a stand without worrying about is a hospital going to hire me, you know. So it’s important because then you can kind of lead a movement for change from a position of not having to worry about not you know being a victim of the change. Which is hard because that’s a moral conflict. Like if you’re saying get rid of fee for service medicine and you’re dependent on fee for service medicine as I was when I was practicing, that’s a very hard, you know how are you gonna bite the hand that’s feeding you? It’s a conflict, even if you want to, even if it’s bad, you’re gonna come up with reasons that it’s not you’re gonna deny it so, you know I think that’s why folks like you are so important I’m glad you got fired my friend you know I hate to say it, but I know it hurt your dreams. But I think this was meant to happen, I think this is something that you’re gonna find in retrospect was the greatest thing that ever happened because you have a gift. You have another gift that you can share with the world without worrying you have time to do it.
[Maurice] I know my Pharma said you said this big sign that life is 10% of what happened to you and 90% how you respond so I’m just gonna take life throws at me and just respond I’m a healthcare professional, with the emphasis on professional and just keep moving forward and doing what I do best trying to help patients and make people laugh so.
[Zubin] I love it I love it. And there’s another saying by Shinzon Young, who’s a famous Zen instructor and he says, suffering equals pain times resistance. So everybody has pain, but your resistance to that pain, in other words, the fighting and the oh, I don’t deserve this pain this is not fair I this is terrible I’m worthless if you drop the resistance, the pain still there, but the suffering goes to zero. So it’s how we frame our response. It’s the same way of saying what you just said. So I gotta say this Maurice, man, it’s been a joy dude. Connecting with here.
[Maurice] I’ve had fun and I look forward to you know doing more videos works with you in the future.
[Zubin] Can’t wait, can’t wait, so Z-pack do me a favor sorry for all the curse words. I know some of you won’t share it but I don’t give a damn about that what I care about is you guys supporting this guy right here so we’ll put links in the show notes that Maurice will send me to his stuff. Find out how to find your voice and your own way. If we stand up together, they can’t fire us all, they can’t. Because they need us they need us more than they will ever admit to your face, they will tell you that you’ll never find a job like this, you’ll never be on your walk. And you will find the thing that is right for you. Do not let them convince you that you’re stuck in something that you feel is morally wrong and for that, I thank you for being a part of this. Thanks to all the supporters who make the show possible. We are a platform on iTunes podcast, YouTube, Facebook, and my website where everything lives zdoggmd.com check it out and we out, peace.