Pharmacy Technician Shortage Reaches Critical Level

Pharmacy Times Health Systems Edition, November 2022, Volume 11, Issue 6

It is time to compensate pharmacy technicians in accordance with their value.

It is no surprise that pharmacy technicians are in short supply because of heavy workloads, inadequate staffing levels, and, most of all, low salaries.

In a 2021 American Society of Health-System survey, 75% of technicians said that higher pay would help them stay in their positions.

Some of the other survey results are equally alarming.

Most pharmacy executives surveyed reported technician turnover rates of 21% to 30%, and 10% of executives reported losing 41% or more of their technician workforce. In addition, a vacancy rate of 22.2% and 20.8% was reported for inpatient and ambulatory technician positions, respectively. And 89% of pharmacy executives said that pharmacists were forced to perform technician duties, 53% that service reductions were required, and 48% that expansion of new services had been delayed.1

This urgent issue is addressed in both this month’s Cover Feature and the Editor’s Note.

How does the profession fix this problem? In the Cover Feature, authors Andrew J. Donnelly, PharmD, MBA, FASHP; and Jamie Paek, PharmD, say that pharmacy executives continue to use a variety of strategies, not all with equal success, to recruit and retain technicians, including: developing career ladders that provide advancement opportunities, implementing training programs, offering incentive pay for open shifts, paying the cost of meeting registrations and memberships, serving as rotation sites for external training programs to increase the pool of recruits, and offering sign-on bonuses.

One way to address the problem is the use of agency technicians to mitigate short-term staffing needs. But that does not address the biggest issue: compensation. Technicians are vital members of pharmacy teams and stepped up even more during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is time to compensate them in accordance with their value.

Elsewhere in this issue, we look at radio frequency identification to enhance patient safety, guidelines for managing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, treating children with community-acquired pneumonia, managing hemophilia A, the battle over 340B hospitals at the Supreme Court, improving pain management with precision pharmacotherapy, and the high potential for gabapentin misuse.

Thanks for reading!

Reference

Pharmacy technician shortage survey findings executive summary. American Society of Health-System Pharmacy. March 2020. Accessed October 19, 2022. https://www.ashp.org/-/media/assets/pharmacy-technician/docs/Technician-Shortage-Survey-Exec-Summary.pdf