WASHINGTON, DC— Today the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) and the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA) released the fourth1 installment of the Pharmacy Workplace and Well-being Reporting (PWWR) trends and findings report series.
Launched in October 2021, PWWR serves as a safe space to submit both positive and negative pharmacy workplace experiences in a confidential and anonymous manner. To date, nearly 1,300 reports have been submitted to PWWR from pharmacy supervisors to pharmacy support personnel in nearly every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The goal of PWWR is to tell the stories of those who submit their experiences so that profession may begin to act on the findings and learnings. The learnings from this cycle’s analysis provide a roadmap for pharmacy personnel employers and the profession at-large to address patient/consumer harassment concerns and barriers to staff/management communication and celebrate positive experiences preventing medication errors and safety by design.
“While workplace conditions continue to be the primary reason cited in the nearly 1,300 reports submitted to PWWR, harassment from patients/caregivers and the lack of open staff/supervisor communication channels is real and reported every quarter in PWWR’s first year,” said Ilisa Bernstein, PharmD, JD, FAPhA, APhA interim executive vice president and CEO. “The deidentified reports submitted in the first year of PWWR tell a collective, powerful story that we hope will spark needed change and improvement in the pharmacy workplace.”
In this reporting cycle (mid-August through the end of December 2022) 142 reports were received. Positive experiences reported ranged from effective communications with a prescriber to avert a medication concern, targeted safety practices to prevent an error, and pharmacy staff working as a team to resolve difficult workflow processes. Those who submitted positive experiences indicated that those experiences would have a long-term effect on their well-being.
The primary reason for negative experiences submitted in this reporting cycle was workplace conditions, followed by medication errors (that were near misses or no patient harm), staffing and scheduling, pharmacy metrics, and volume/workload expectations mismatched to hours available. Situations of harassment from patients and co-workers have been reported in all four report cycles. This cycle, however, was the first that didn’t include a report of sexual harassment. There are two primary learnings again this quarter. The first is training on how pharmacy staff can deescalate or “walk away” from abusive/aggressive patient situations. The second is non-pharmacy management training on supporting pharmacy staff when faced with harassment from patients/consumers.
As has been in previous reports, the continuing concern is the reported lack of open channels of communication. Of those who submitted negative experiences, 67% indicated that they offered recommendations to management. Of those, 83% indicated that their recommendations were not considered or applied causing them to feel ignored and unvalued. Thirty-two percent did not offer recommendations because they fear retaliation, it wouldn’t make a difference, no local control, or a belief that nothing will happen if reported. A new reason cited in this reporting cycle was the lack of experience, understanding, and training as a supervisor. This led to the pharmacy staff believing that these supervisors wouldn’t know how to handle the situation and as a result they would be ignored.
“It takes courage to offer recommendations for improvement in the workplace – to have those recommendations fall on deaf ears is a travesty. The disturbing trend of a lack of open communication is a call to action for the profession to take the necessary steps to address these real concerns,” said Rebecca Snead, RPh, FAPhA, NASPA executive vice president and CEO.
PWWR is an ongoing online confidential and anonymous service for pharmacy personnel to report positive and negative experiences across all pharmacy practices. Pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and student pharmacists are encouraged to submit positive and negative experience reports as often as they would like. In-depth analysis reports with trends and learnings will be periodically issued. A short snapshot of submissions will be issued each month. To submit an experience and read the full PWWR Reports, visit www.pharmacist.com/pwwr.
The Alliance for Patient Medication Safety, a federally listed patient safety organization (PSO), analyzes the reports submitted to PWWR. Reports are protected by the confidentiality and privilege provisions of the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005. Actual submission reports to PWWR cannot be disclosed or subpoenaed and are not subject to discovery in a legal proceeding.
APhA is the only organization advancing the entire pharmacy profession. Our expert staff and strong volunteer leadership, including many experienced pharmacists, allow us to deliver vital leadership to help pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians find success and satisfaction in their work and advocate for changes that benefit them, their patients, and their communities. For more information, please visit www.pharmacist.com.
NASPA, founded in 1927 as the National Council of State Pharmacy Association Executives, is dedicated to enhancing the success of state pharmacy associations in their efforts to advance the profession of pharmacy. NASPA’s membership is comprised of state pharmacy associations and over 70 other stakeholder organizations. NASPA promotes leadership, sharing, learning, and policy exchange among its members and pharmacy leaders nationwide.
1 PWWR Report I, II, III, and monthly Snapshot Reports can be found at www.pharmacist.com/pwwr.