WASHINGTON, DC—The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) and the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA) have released the initial findings of the 2022 National Pharmacy Workplace Survey.
Pharmacists and pharmacy personnel’s workplace issues and their relationship to personal well-being continue to be a critical, complex issue across all practice settings; these have been further exacerbated throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent decades, significant work has been done to identify and understand medication errors (including near misses) and characterize the root of their causes. But there was a need for critical examination of workplace factors to determine how, or if, they affected pharmacy personnel’s well-being and patient safety. In response, APhA and NASPA developed a national survey to address this critical gap. The confidential survey explored the practice environment, employee engagement and value, pharmacy personnel safety, staffing, and contributors to stress.
Initial findings and conclusions
Of the 4,482 responses, most respondents were from the eastern part of the United States, followed by the Midwest and West. They represented 17 different practice settings, including chain pharmacies (46%), supermarket pharmacies (13%), and independent and hospital pharmacies (10%). Most respondents were either staff/clinical pharmacists (50%), management/supervisors (30%), technicians/clerks (8%), or owners or interns/students (4%).
The initial findings validate the many anecdotal stories heard through national and state pharmacy association members and pharmacy-specific social media. The responses to this survey indicate that work environment factors contribute to pharmacy personnel’s difficulty in performing their clinical and nonclinical duties effectively. There is no open mechanism for pharmacists and pharmacy personnel to discuss workplace issues with supervisors and management; if they try, the discussion is not welcomed or heard. This is concerning because feelings of not being listened to or valued are risk factors that can cause stress leading to occupational burnout.
Issues identified as factors that contribute to stress and could lead to medication errors or near misses are
- Increased demands, harassment, and bullying by patients/consumers experienced by pharmacy staff.
- Concern due to insufficient and ill-trained staff.
- Employer focus upon production results.
- Constant interruptions or calls to insurance companies that disrupt the ability to evaluate appropriateness of treatments.
- Addition of services with inadequate support for these services.
There are opportunities to expediently address at least 2 of these identified issues. The first is for managers and directors to open a meaningful two-way communication channel with pharmacy personnel. The second is to revise policies to support pharmacists and pharmacy personnel when encountering patients who are perceived to be threatening or harassing. These should complement the support of pharmacists using their professional judgment in addressing clinical and workflow issues at hand.
“Support of pharmacy team members and pharmacies is needed—especially now as the pandemic continues—from employers, insurers, lawmakers, and the public to ensure adequate resource availability, address patient safety issues, and reduce stress and increase satisfaction of pharmacy personnel both now and in the future,” said Scott Knoer, MS, PharmD, FASHP, APhA executive vice president and CEO.
“Addressing pharmacy personnel harassment and bullying by patients/consumers is critical. Pharmacy personnel should not fear for their safety when providing patient care and serving their community’s health care needs,” said Rebecca Snead, RPh, executive vice president and CEO of NASPA. “Organizations need to immediately review their policies and procedures dealing with these situations, articulate support of their team members, and provide guidance to and training for pharmacy personnel and non-pharmacy management.”
Confidentiality, survey limitations, and ongoing analysis
The survey was administered through an online platform designed for receiving deidentified data for analysis. To protect the respondents' anonymity, all responses are held at the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy, and APhA and NASPA were not provided access to individual responses and only received aggregate result data.
The results did not use a random sample of individuals, and the total number of individuals contacted is unknown; therefore, a response rate cannot be calculated. The findings should be used to gain insight and not be used to make estimates or generalizations regarding the entire population of pharmacists and personnel.
A final report, expected this spring, will include statistical analysis with granular results specific to practice types, roles, gender, ethnicity, and years in practice. Additionally, a reflexive thematic analysis will be conducted on several thousand open-ended responses relating to workplace stress to learn more from the voice of the respondents.
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.