Stress in the pharmacy is reaching its peak in the face of overwhelming workloads for underwhelming pay
After receiving an abundance of thought-provoking comments from you, our AJP readers, about workplace pressure over the past few months, we’ve decided to collate them to provide a view into the current situation. (Note: Some comments have been edited for length and spelling)
Big John: “Why have pharmacists had to accept more workload for LESS income? Even owners. Because the Government has said so. And it’s only going to get worse. Over the next 12-24 months pharmacist workloads are really going to blow out as more is expected of them; for effectively less pay.”
Pharmasista: “Long hours, stressful work, ever present threat of legal issues or management repercussions for decisions made in patients’ interests and not on financial ones and the MASSIVE workload!!!
“As a single pharmacist I dispense anywhere from 150-350 scripts per day, no lunch break or rest breaks, sign and witness documents to ungrateful customers, wrangle codeine/pseudo sales, try to explain the ‘i cant even buy that medicine for the price they sell it for’ situation daily, leaving little time to counsel and enjoy being a community pharmacist.”
John Sobkowiak: “Its a sad sign of the times when I see a job advertised in a remote town where I worked for $40 p.h. back in 2004 advertised today in 2016 (12 years later) at $42 p.h. … If the figures are reversed to make today’s $42 p.h. equivalent to a pay rate back in 2004 , little Johnny pharmacist would have been working for an hourly rate of just $31.48.”
GetOutOfthisUselessCareer: “Reception work pays more than pharmacy… Why would anyone be bothered staying in such a stressful and horrible job that pays so little in a dead end career. As a receptionist, I earn $28 per hour and leave on time with no stress. This is extra time and energy is helping me do another degree so that I can leave the low paid dead end career that is pharmacy behind… Good riddance.”
Jenny: “I quit pharmacy after working in retail and hospital extensively for the last ten years. Pay was bad, workload was phenomenal and the future of this profession is non-existent! I am now working at a computer software company as a clinical application specialist and earning the same if not more considering there are no weekends, on-calls, late nights and public holiday!
“I get to spend time with my family and friends and don’t need to go home to stress the million decisions I made on the day which might have resulted in a near misses or an incident report due to some micromanagement and bureaucratic bullcrap.”
Feedback to the PPA
PPA’s Matt Harris has also told AJP he had received the following feedback from different pharmacists:
“Every year, there seems to be more required of me, yet there is no extra support or increased remuneration.”
“It’s not just prescription numbers that add to workload stress. We are expected to provide an increasing number of services in the same amount of time with increase in pay.”
“Some pharmacies have pharmacists dispensing over 300 scripts a day by themselves.”
It seems UK pharmacists are dealing with the same pressures. Readers of Chemist+Druggist, a UK-based pharmacy publication, had the following to say:
A Lloydspharmacy employee: “The pressures in our pharmacy are quite strong – it affects our workplace and our overall wellbeing.
“A couple of us are doing the dispensary course, but because of the constant work pressures surrounding us, we are unable to get any work done – so we are resorting to doing it at home.
“The pressure can get too much for a very small pharmacy with limited staff, and it does affect the way we work and how we manage our day-to-day tasks.”
Anonymous: “Not only are the demands during working hours ever increasing, but I’ve now found out that my company expects us to give up a Sunday to attend flu vaccination training, without getting any overtime for the time we are giving up.”
A locum: “I’m a locum at a chain, and managers have been telling their locums they won’t be booked if they don’t take part in the flu service.
“The company, however, is expecting locums to pay for their training themselves.
“I am assured by head office that this won’t be the case and that it is not mandatory to offer the service.
“But I think they forgot to tell their managers, because I know locums are either having their shifts taken off them, or have been told that they will not be booked from October onwards.”