|Pharmacy working conditions
|Ended on 11/22/2023
As a practicing retail pharmacist in Virginia, I implore you to make these proposed changes permanent. Over the last 20 years, working conditions in retail pharmacy have deteriorated substantially. The volume that required two pharmacists, 4 technicians and at least one cashier to handle back when I started is now carried by 1 pharmacist and, on a lucky day, 2 technicians for only part of the day. The speed at which I must review every single prescription is ridiculously fast, and definitely does not lend itself to perfect accuracy.
I acknowledge that systems have improved, for which I am grateful, but these systems can not replace the personal relationship between patient and pharmacist that allows us to tailor our care to the individual. Retail pharmacists today spend their days racing back and forth between administering vaccines, verifying the accuracy of all prescriptions, counseling patients, and contacting physician offices, insurance companies and patients. Additionally, in many cases, when technician help is completely unavailable or insufficient, pharmacists also pick up the responsibility for data-entering and filling prescriptions, managing inventory, answering phone calls and cashiering the pharmacy both at the drive up windows and the in-store counters.
When asked why retail pharmacies are so understaffed, I have repeatedly heard the phrase, “there’s a shortage of pharmacists and technicians.” That is not accurate. There is not a shortage of capable, licensed pharmacists or technicians--only 4 years ago, the market was flooded. The truth is that there is a shortage of pharmacists and technicians who are willing to work in today’s toxic operating conditions. We struggle to hire technicians, as large companies have refused to allow sufficient staffing hours to provide a viable career path for them. Technicians are nearly always relegated to part-time status, preventing them from being eligible for basic benefits like healthcare insurance. Their wages are not sufficient for the responsibilities that they shoulder, and they are not provided with adequate options to grow professionally within the field. As the backbone of the pharmacy, we MUST institute regulations that allow us to retain talent.
Please help us to take our profession back and earn back the "most trusted profession" status by putting these changes in place and empowering pharmacists to appropriately staff our pharmacies. Additionally, please consider instituting staffing minimums that will protect patient safety and prohibit large corporations from finding loopholes that will continue to put our patients and our livelihoods at risk.