Minnesota Looks to Reduce Pharmacists' Hours

Pharmacists endure heavy workloads and long hours, but does all this time and effort actually do more harm than good?

Pharmacists endure heavy workloads and long hours, but does all this time and effort actually do more harm than good?

The Minnesota Board of Pharmacy seems to think so. According to the Mankato Free Press, the state board sees excessively long work shifts as a possible public safety issue.

To reduce the strain on pharmacists, the board is proposing a new rule that prohibits pharmacies from allowing pharmacists to work more than 12 consecutive hours in 1 day. The rule also mandates a 30-minute break to pharmacists working more than 6 consecutive hours.

Pharmacists are taxed to perform various tasks throughout the day that far exceed simply filling prescriptions, and the board believes that cutting down a pharmacists’ work hours is key to minimizing strain. The board’s decision to propose the rule is based off studies in related professions that show a relationship between high-pressure working environments and errors made on the job.

The goal is to decrease errors such as misfilled prescriptions, but the proposed rule doesn’t come without controversy.

Reactions from the pharmacy industry are mixed, with plenty of opposition stating that pharmacists should be able to work as many hours as needed to get the job done. A representative from the CVS chain wrote in a letter, “CVS Health strongly believes that a pharmacist should continue to manage their own work schedule and not rely on a Board rule to dictate work conditions.”

Some pharmacists are concerned about the effect the rule will have on smaller pharmacies that may only have 1 pharmacist working at a time. Pharmacies are required to close while a pharmacist is away unless the medication area can be locked down.

Brent Blair, owner of Trail Creek Health Center Pharmacy, told Mankato Free Press, “As a pharmacist who’s worked 12 hours, I can tell you those last couple of hours, you’re tired.”

Hy-Vee Pharmacy Manager Brian Corneilus remarked, “I see both sides of it as far as the safety for the pharmacist, but I could also see it could be an inconvenience for patients if the pharmacy has to close.”

The North Carolina Supreme Court approved a similar working condition rule in 2007 due to the link between long hours and work errors. If the rule is approved, pharmacies may have to adapt in order to cut pharmacist hours.