Report Finds Health-System Workforce Challenges Influence Work of Pharmacists, Technicians

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Nearly 84% of hospitals are working to prevent and mitigate burnout, with increased support and programs for individual wellness and resilience practices.

A national survey by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) found that health-system pharmacies are experiencing workforce shortages, although these shortages have had little impact on budgeted positions.1

Credit: foto_tech - stock.adobe.com

Credit: foto_tech - stock.adobe.com


Additionally, workforce challenges are having a significant impact on the work of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. Despite these issues, however, adopting practice advancement initiatives has continued a positive trend from past years.1

For the report, ASHP polled 1498 pharmacy leaders from all hospital sizes, regions, and ownership types, with a 23.7% response rate. Respondents answered questions about their experience with workforce issues, progress toward pharmacy practice advancement goals, and workforce burnout.2

According to the survey findings, nearly 84% of hospitals are working to prevent and mitigate burnout, with increased support and programs for individual wellness and resilience practices as well as a growing commitment to connecting workers with employee assistance programs. Hospitals and health systems are also working to measure aspects of burnout syndrome, with 34% now measuring burnout compared to just 23% in 2018.1

“Pharmacy leaders continue to recognize the importance of ensuring that all members of the pharmacy team are fully supported through wellness and resilience programs,” said ASHP chief executive officer Paul W. Abramowitz, PharmD, ScD (Hon), FASHP, in a press release. “Assuring the health, well-being, and resiliency of the pharmacy workforce helps protect them and the patients they serve each day in hospitals and health systems across the country.”1

The report also collected data on the work and abilities of pharmacists and technicians, finding that inpatient pharmacists independently prescribe in 27.1% of hospitals and advanced analytics are utilized in 8.7% of hospitals. Pharmacists work in ambulatory or primary care clinics in 51.6% of hospitals operating outpatient clinics and some level of pharmacy service integration is reported in 53.6% of hospitals.2

Pharmacy technician roles are also advancing and new opportunities are emerging, according to the report. For health systems offering at-home hospital services, 65.9% of pharmacy departments are involved.2

Shortages of pharmacists and technicians were reported but were more acute for pharmacy technicians. More than 60% of hospitals reported shortages of front-line pharmacists, 74% reported shortages of entry-level pharmacy technicians, and 57% reported shortages of candidates for roles at the manager level. Hospitals were better positioned for clinical coordinator and clinical specialist positions, with more than half of hospitals reporting a good balance of candidates for these roles.1

Notably, 83.7% of hospitals reported that they are attempting to prevent and mitigate burnout. The average number of full-time equivalents per 100 occupied beds is 16.9 for pharmacists and 16.1 for technicians.1

To address workforce burnout, ASHP is partnering with the Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Service Administration on a program to train ambassadors to promote well-being within the pharmacy workforce. The program utilizes ASHP’s curriculum that supports resilience for health-system ambassadors and applies systems-based and human-centered design principles to create a culture of well-being.1

Earlier research by ASHP and The Ohio State University surveyed more than 10,000 pharmacists. From 665 respondents, the results showed that those who felt supported in their wellness at their workplace were less likely to report stress and burnout and were also less likely to make mistakes that could impact patients. Workplace support and healthy lifestyle behaviors, such as adequate sleep, exercise, and healthy eating, can help improve mental and physical wellness.1

REFERENCES

  1. Health Systems Support Efforts to Prevent Burnout Among Pharmacy Staff. American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. April 19, 2023. Accessed April 20, 2023.
  2. Pederson CA, Schneider PJ, Ganio MC, Scheckelhoff DJ. ASHP National Survey of Pharmacy Practice in Hospital Settings: Workforce – 2022. Am J Health Syst Pharm, 2023. April 6, 2023. https://academic.oup.com/ajhp/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/ajhp/zxad055/7109423?redirectedFrom=fulltext
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