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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11/15/23  5:43 pm
Commenter: anonymous

Current working conditions are not sustainable

While these regulations are a great start, I am concerned that they are more suggestions for appropriate work conditions rather than laws, and they leave enforcement of these regulations in the hands of the pharmacist.  I am afraid pharmacists will not report poor working conditions because of time constraints and fear of retribution from permit holders, since a complaint goes to them from the complaining pharmacist for a response. The permit holder has the discretion to take no action as long as they document why, once again overriding the pharmacist's discretion. This process is time consuming and doesn't address the immediate short staffing that is the rule these days, not the exception. These regulations need to contain specific laws that will hold permit holders responsible for providing the adequate working conditions to safely do business. 

At a minimum, the board of pharmacy needs to adopt a minimum pharmacist : certified tech ratio of 1:1. A pharmacist should never be working alone for their safety and the safety of their customers. Something also needs to be done about the constant cutting of support hours. On top of everything else going on, the pharmacies are in a constant state of hiring and training because we cannot retain quality help when their hours are constantly being cut and below full time. Corporate needs to play a bigger role in the hiring, training and retention of support help and take that issue off the plates of sinking pharmacists behind the bench. Finally, the allotted support staff should not be measured by Rx picked up but by the Rx filled and the entirety of the workload that is being put on the pharmacy. There is never time for inventory, training, team building or house keeping tasks. Many pharmacies are dirty and overcrowded with boxes and drugs all over the place. This adds to the overall chaos in the pharmacy.

I have been working retail pharmacy for over 25 years , and while it has always been challenging and stressful at times, it has never been as bad as it is now. Since Covid, we have inherited all the immunizations for the public on top of the traditional pharmacy work,  yet we are working with less help than before. If pharmacies want to offer vaccine appointments, they should be required to schedule a designated pharmacist or technician just for immunizing tasks in addition to a pharmacist behind the bench. They should also not be allowed to schedule more than 1 patient per time slot. We often have 4 patients/8 shots scheduled for the same time. We are being put in a position where we cannot possibly provide safe and adequate customer care. Work has become a sweatshop and a hostile work environment, often being verbally attacked by customers. There is way too much stress and liability on the pharmacist, and those who can are leaving retail or pharmacy altogether. This is not sustainable, and it is the responsibility of the board of pharmacy to step in and help us save this profession. It is my hope in speaking up that I can be a part of the change that is so needed for my chosen profession. There is not a shortage of pharmacists, just a shortage of pharmacists willing to work in the current conditions. 

CommentID: 220646