MAY 01, 2006

With demand for prescription drugs on the rise, the nation's community pharmacists are worrying that their growing workload is affecting their professional responsibilities. The findings of a new study released by the Pharmacy Manpower Project Inc (PMP) show that the workload for America's pharmacists increased measurably between 2000 and 2004 and that many practitioners believe that patient care could suffer as a result.

In the study, 36% of the pharmacists surveyed said that the growing workload has negatively affected their ability to reduce medication errors; 35% said that they have less opportunity to spend time with patients; and 33% said that workload pressures are harming their ability to solve drug-therapy problems.

In 2004, pharmacists spent 49% of their day dispensing drugs and 32% on activities such as advising patients on drug therapies, evaluating the safety of drug therapy, administering vaccines, and counseling patients, the researchers said. Ideally, however, the pharmacists surveyed would like those numbers reversed so that they could spend 48% of their time providing counseling and other patient services and only 39% of their time dispensing drugs.

Despite the workload pressures, however, the study found that job satisfaction levels among the nation's pharmacists are on the rise. Better than 3 out of 4 pharmacists reported a "high level" of job satisfaction in 2004, compared with only 66% in 2000.