Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Health Professions
Board of Pharmacy
Regulations Governing the Practice of Pharmacy [18 VAC 110 ‑ 20]
Action Pharmacy working conditions
Stage Emergency/NOIRA
Comment Period Ended on 11/22/2023
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10/25/23  10:16 pm
Commenter: Northern Virginia Pharmacist

Retail pharmacy is sadly going downhill !

I love practicing pharmacy in the retail setting. I have been working at the same pharmacy for more than 20 years. I know many of my customers by name, know their medications, their preferences. I have been helping whole families with their prescriptions, seeing the kids growing up, graduating from high school, from colleges. My customers and I, we are like a big family. For recent years, the significant meaning of helping my beloved customers to get the medications that they need at the price they can afford to help them getting better, that meaning is getting smaller and smaller. Instead, stress, work overload, pharmacy budget cut, and a myriad endless demand of chores required by the company are interfering with my time and energy dedicated to the profession of pharmacy.

Retail pharmacy is now a place where we are supposed to make money for the boss. Profit, sales, prescription count, labor cost saving, these are the goals. Nobody cares about pharmacists working 12-hour shift and spend significant time before opening and after closing time to get things done. Being a pharmacy manager is not money worth, it means spending more time out of the regular working schedule to get things done without getting paid. It is very damaging to our health when we work 12 hours in a row without a real break, taking 1-2 bathroom breaks ( 2 bathroom breaks is a blessing from above) and eating junk food full of sugar and rely on caffeine to give us energy to function. Since we do not have a Union, we do not have actual meal break. Since we are salaried employees, we do not get paid overtime if we stay to work after closing the pharmacy to get things done. The more dedicated we are to the profession of pharmacy, the more time we work without getting paid and the faster we are digging our graves. 

The pay rate for pharmacy technicians are laughable, dirt cheap. We rely on good pharmacy technicians to help us throughout the day. It is not easy to train a cashier to become a pharmacy technician. The new online training requiring 400 hours of learning makes it very difficult to hire people interested in working at the pharmacy. People can find a job paying $16, $17, $18 an hour at various places, why working as a tech-in-training earning less than $13 an hour for about 2 years and once passing the National Pharmacy Tech Exam only receiving a tiny pay increase and working as a pharmacy technician earning $15.20 ( my recent tech passing the exam in August after almost 2 years working on the online tech training program ) !!!!!!! The company does not want to increase the pay rate of our knowledgeable pharmacy technicians. Of course, we are losing good pharmacy technicians left and right, leaving retail pharmacy after a few years to work in hospital pharmacies with better salaries. 
Cannot even keep a technician after 8 hours of work to help with the crazy workload because of overtime, forbidden by the company. It is cruel pure human labor exploitation when pharmacists are working extremely long hours before opening and after closing for years without getting paid to try to finish the heavy workload. Well, cannot blame capitalism,   can we ? 

Vaccinations is profit making, money making for the company. Walk-in welcome, online appointments set at 15 minutes per slot. It takes time to give a shot, and it takes tremendous time to key in the computer a prescription for vaccine ( lot number, expiration date, name of the provider, what dose number of Covid shot provided )..Besides vaccinations, pharmacists are supposed to check prescriptions keyed in the computer by technicians, check drug interactions, filling prescriptions, receiving verbal orders from doctors, on hold with other pharmacies to transfer prescriptions, .. We are human beings, not machine. We have a speed limit, energy limit, mental and physical able to do up to a certain amount of duties in a limited amount of time. When it comes to the point that the crazy workload with limited help can result in harm to our customers, harm to the pharmacy personnel, regulations about pharmacy working conditions need to be created and reinforced.

Sadly, pharmacists are replaceable. Any burned out retail pharmacist can quit the job and the company will hire another pharmacist to work. 
As long as companies keep paying a low pay rate to pharmacy technicians and pharmacy clerks and keep a low pharmacy budget, high turnover in pharmacy personnel will cause a lot of mental, physical and emotional damage to the retail pharmacist. Money is the key part to improve pharmacy working conditions, and sadly, I personally think that the Board of Pharmacy has no power in making working conditions in retail pharmacy better and safer. 



CommentID: 220462