The assistant dean of learning and assessment at the Purdue University College of Pharmacy says pharmacy employees are being asked to do more with fewer resources, which has created a tough work environment. Kimberly Illingworth, who is also a professor of pharmacy practice, said the ongoing pharmacy staffing shortage is having a particularly large effect as people continue to deal with COVID, RSV and other illnesses.
“It creates a really difficult place in the pharmacy environment if they do not have the help that they need,” she said. “So, that’s leading to pharmacies closing early [and] questions of [patient] safety when you don’t have the help.”
In an interview with the Associated Press, Illingworth said there is a recognition of a shortage among pharmacies.
“Just a few short years ago, we were talking about an oversupply, and things have turned, especially after COVID, because people are making different choices in their career,” Illingworth said. “And there are more choices for pharmacists to to make and go into different career paths.”
She said from the patient side, there are delays in getting prescriptions, which in many cases can impact their health in the long run, whether it’s someone seeking antibiotics for an infection or people dealing with chronic diseases such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
For pharmacists, Illingworth said the staffing shortage is very stressful because they are facing questions from several areas, including patients and providers.
“And so they are trying to manage their workplace with managing their technicians and all the phones and the people and the immunizations and the COVID testing,” she said.
To help alleviate the shortage, organizations at the national, state and local level are looking at various solutions, including employee well-being.
“A lot of the national associations right now, they’re looking at well-being and trying to provide resources and also work with companies to help in that area,” Illingworth said. “Secondarily, they are also looking at looking at pharmacy benefit managers and how they play a role in reimbursement to pharmacies because often, those reimbursements lead to who is staffed and who is not staffed.”
Illingworth said there are some state legislatures that are looking into bills at those issues and what would create a safe environment, how many technicians to a pharmacist are allowed to work, as well as how many pharmacists are necessary.
The pharmacy staffing shortage was featured in a November edition of the Indianapolis Business Journal, which you can read by clicking here.