ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Like many businesses, pharmacies nationwide are struggling with staffing shortages. Across the United States, CVS and other pharmacies are reducing their hours to alleviate some of the extra work pharmacists are putting in, to make up for staffing issues. According to local pharmacists, the pandemic is to blame.
Since the pandemic, the workload for pharmacists across the country has increased. Dean of Wegmans School of Pharmacy at St. John Fisher University Christine Birnie says it’s because of pharmacies being so available during that time. She says approximately 90% of individuals around the country have a pharmacy within five miles of their home. And pharmacies were an ideal place for covid testing and vaccine roll out, given their accessibility to the community.
Alexis Strzelecki is a pharmacy student at the university. She says having all those responsibilities coming into the workforce is daunting and can also be concerning to the patients they care for. From a patient standpoint, she says, if a pharmacist has been working 12-hour days, four days a week, it’s concerning. That’s because they’re going to be tired, burnt out, and stressed which can potentially cause errors. Strzelecki’s advantage will be being a freshly graduated pharmacist once her education is finished. When it’s her time to enter the workforce, demand for pharmacists will be high.
Pharmacies nationwide are starting to get creative in their efforts to entice people to become pharmacists. Some have tried reducing hours, in an attempt to give employees a more work-life balance. They have also been giving more opportunities to work from home and giving sign on bonuses, something Dean Christine Birnie hasn’t seen in the profession for a while.
Alexis is graduating this May but will have two years of residency before joining the workforce. With the time it takes to finish education, this shortage could be an issue for years to come.
According to a CVS spokesperson, their hours will be adjusted in select stores by March. We have yet to see any changes announced locally.