No sickies for pharmacists

sick man

An overwhelming majority of pharmacists go to work while sick, an AJP poll has found

Earlier this month, we reported on a US study which showed that pharmacists are the most likely among the health professions to go to work when they’re experiencing flu-like symptoms.

AJP asked readers to tell us whether they go to work sick, and to nominate one of several reasons why they do so.

Ninety-three per cent of readers go to work sick, and the most common reason is, “I have no choice, I/my employer can’t find replacement staff”.

Another 12% said they had no choice as they are an owner; while another 11% said they only go in sick if replacement staff can’t be found.

Another 18% said they have a strong work ethic/professional obligation, 5% said they can’t afford the loss of pay and 14% said they go to work sick only if their symptoms are mild or they don’t indicate an infectious disease.

Only 3% stayed home in a bid not to infect co-workers and patients, 2% said they needed to stay home and get better and 1% said sick leave exists to be taken when sick.

And virtually nobody “chucks a sickie,” with only 2% saying they sometimes take “mental health days” when they’re not sick.

Anthony Tassone, president of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia – Victorian branch, said he’s not surprised by the result based on his own experience s a pharmacist and that of colleagues, as well as anecdotal feedback.

He says there are a range of workforce challenges for pharmacy in general at the moment, including finding locums, and not necessarily only in regional and rural areas: recruitment agencies have told him they are having difficulty finding staff for clients in metropolitan areas too.

However, he says owners and employee pharmacists do have to consider their health.

“There may not be an immediate or simple solution when sometimes a proprietor is faced with the prospect of not being able to open the pharmacy at all at short notice if they do not do so themselves,” he told the AJP.

“Ultimately their own health and welfare and that of colleagues and team members is most important as if they do not take time to recover this can have unintended and worse outcomes for their own health and those they work with. 

“Encouraging a culture of supporting team members taking time to recover from genuine illness is also important.”

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