Alex Barker, PharmD
Alex Barker is the founder of The Happy PharmD, which helps pharmacists create an inspiring career, break free from the mundane "pill-flipping" life. He is a Full-time Pharmacist, Media Company founder, franchise owner, Business Coach, Speaker, and Author. He's also the Founder of Pharmacy School HQ, which helps students get into pharmacy school and become residents.
Unfortunately, the demands that pharmacists are expected to meet can make burnout commonplace.
Here are the top 5 causes of pharmacy job burnout:
1. Prolonged Stress
Are the phones ringing off the hook? Is your pharmacy chronically understaffed due to turnover? Does upper management have unreasonable expectations of what the pharmacy team can accomplish in an average workday?
High levels of stress that last a long time can cause you to feel disengaged, chronically exhausted, and overwhelmed—textbook indications of job burnout.
If your high stress levels are caused by unfavorable working conditions at your pharmacy, taking a vacation may not be enough to relieve symptoms of burnout because the problems will still be there when you return.
If upper management is unable or unwilling to discuss or implement workplace improvements, then you may want to consider finding another job.
2. Work-Life Imbalance
Your personal life matters. If you are constantly worrying about or dreading work when you are off the clock, then you are setting yourself up for job burnout.
Excessive mandatory overtime or on-call schedules that do not accommodate personal obligations heavily contribute to high pharmacy burnout rates. Prioritize your personal life and don’t let the demands of the pharmacy overwhelm you during your off hours.
3. Dysfunctional Work Environment
A tyrannical or micromanaging boss. Conniving, gossiping, or unsupportive coworkers. Unreasonable upper management. Any of these personalities can make a pharmacy environment unhealthy, unproductive, and ripe for burnout.
Issues with others in your workplace can be particularly tricky to deal with because you can’t count on the problem staffers to go anywhere anytime soon, and you can’t always count on management to resolve problems.
Short of quitting, your best bet is to avoid the problem workers and focus on doing your job.
Management’s failure to establish reasonable performance and workload standards can lead to perceived unfairness among pharmacy staff.
Staff members who feel that they are not recognized appropriately for personal accomplishments, are undervalued, or receive a higher volume of work are among those most likely to experience job burnout.
If you believe that you are being treated unfairly, then it may be helpful to document your personal accomplishments or workload concerns and attempt to discuss them with your boss.
5. No Reward System
In a high-stress environment like the pharmacy, it is critical for staff to feel valued in order to maintain optimal performance levels. In addition to establishing performance and workload standards, pharmacy management should establish corresponding rewards (and consequences) and apply them to all employees.
Inconsistent or infrequent rewards and a focus on negative outcomes can cause employees to disengage from their jobs—a telltale sign of burnout.
As pharmacies become busier, workers are expected to do more with fewer people and fewer resources. I would argue that burnout—and the job turnover it causes—is one of the most critical issues affecting pharmacies today.
Taking a vacation is not a cure-all. Instead, it may be time to look for a new job.
Pharmacy staff should identify causes of burnout and work with management to solve workplace problems. With cooperation and commitment from staff at all levels, pharmacies may avoid losing competent, experienced professionals while continuing to provide high-quality patient care.