Pharmacy Employers Must Address Employee Burnout

Pharmacy Times Health Systems Edition, May 2022, Volume 11, Issue 3

Not only is burnout impacting pharmacists, but it also has unacceptable impacts on patients.

On December 17, 2021, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) issued a statement titled “Pharmacist Burnout Hits Breaking Point, Impacting Patient Safety.” In the statement, the APhA noted that burnout had been a problem in the pharmacy profession for a long time but had been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Burnout, the association cautioned, was pushing many pharmacy professionals to “the brink of despair.” What’s more, burnout “is impacting patients today with delayed prescription fulfillment, unacceptable waits for vaccines and testing, and potential errors due to high volume, long hours, and pressure to meet performance metrics.”

Typical recommended remedies for burnout in pharmacies involve self-care: meditate, get a massage, or take deep breaths during the day. But that advice puts the burden of fixing the problem entirely on pharmacy professionals themselves.

In this issue’s Cover Feature, Kay Yamamoto, PharmD, medication safety and quality coordinator of hospital pharmacy services at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System and a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy, wrote that organizations should focus on improving wellbeing and reducing workplace stressors.

Burnout is often defined as emotional exhaustion, feeling detached from other individuals or one’s work, and having a reduced sense of accomplishment. Factors leading to burnout include limited resources, staffing issues, and work schedules. Many health systems and pharmacies have grappled with drug shortages, patient care issues, rolling out new COVID-19 therapies, s taffing constraints, and vaccination demands during the past few months, Yamamoto wrote.

To address burnout, employers should consider adjusting schedules, acquiring sufficient staff to support the pharmacy services provided, and celebrating employee wins, she suggests. With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, the article provides food for thought on how employers can focus on the wellbeing of employees and try to minimize stressors in the pharmacy.

In addition to burnout, this May issue is chock full of other interesting and useful content, including a look at medications that can be problematic for individuals with celiac disease, managing toxicities with BRAF and MEK inhibitors, and preventing and treating viral hepatitis. We also have a special supply chain feature focusing, on improving the pharmaceutical ecosystem so that it works better for patients.

As always, we thank you for reading.