Women are a major force in the industry, with women receiving 61% of all PharmD degrees awarded in 2016. As women play a major role in shaping the future of pharmacy, determining their stress level, and how it coincides with their family lives, is increasingly important. Many women balance their pharmacy career with being a mother, which may lead to increased stress. 

A presentation at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Midyear Clinical Meeting detailed a study conducted to gauge stress levels among pharmacist moms and to determine whether they felt discriminated against in the workplace. The study found that mothers in pharmacy reported higher stress levels when working in retail compared with those working in other pharmacy settings. 

The study generated a private Facebook Group called Pharmacist Moms (PM) in 2017, where members had to answer a series of questions to gain access. When the survey was conducted PM had approximately 1,000 worldwide members, and now has more than 18,000, according to the ASHP presentation.

In February 2018, members were encouraged to participate in an 18-question anonymous survey. The survey included questions related to stress, demographics, and discriminations, and it remained open for 60 days. The researchers created survey questions based on a modified Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), a validated psychological method commonly used to measure perceived stress, according to the presentation. 

Some of the questions asked how often they had been upset by something unexpected happening at work in the last month, or if they felt discriminated against at work for being a mother in the last month. Respondents answered using a 5-point Likert scale with the following responses: Always, Often, Sometimes, Almost, or Never. 

The results showed that 82% of women who answered had graduated more than 5 years ago, while 58% reported working in a retail setting. When surveyed about their children, 81% reported having at least 2 children, with 44% saying they had at least 1 child under the age of 5 years, according to the study. 

Of the mothers who worked in retail, 68% reported feeling upset due to something that took place at work, compared with just 28% of pharmacy moms who worked in other settings. Additionally, 70% of retail pharmacy moms reported feeling nervous or stressed about work, compared to only 49% of women in other settings. Lastly, 48% of pharmacy moms working in retail reported feeling as though they were unable to overcome difficulties at work, with only 15% of mothers in non-retail pharmacy settings reporting these feelings. 

These findings highlight a need to educate pharmacy students about stress in their upcoming careers, as well as a need for policy change regarding the schedules of mothers working in both retail and non-retail pharmacy, according to the authors.