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Published on Monday, March 18, 2024

APhA and NASPA release eighth PWWR report and learnings

Washington, DC—Today the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) and the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA) released the eighth installment of the Pharmacy Workplace and Well-being Reporting (PWWR) trends and learnings report series.1

Launched in October 2021, PWWR serves as a safe space to submit both positive and negative pharmacy workplace experiences in a confidential and anonymous manner. The goal of PWWR is to tell the stories of those who submit their experiences so that the profession may begin to act on the findings and learnings. This cycle’s report includes summaries of 2023 report findings.

To date, more than 1,800 reports have been submitted to PWWR from pharmacy supervisors to pharmacy support personnel in nearly every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The learnings from all PWWR report analyses provide a roadmap for pharmacy personnel, employers, and the profession at large to address patient/consumer/coworker harassment concerns, out of sync metrics and staffing, and barriers to staff–management communication.

“It is troubling that after more than 3 years since the launch of PWWR, the submitted experiences continue to focus on working conditions, staffing, patient aggressiveness, and lack of meaningful communication between pharmacy personnel and management,” said Brigid K. Groves, PharmD, MS, APhA vice president of professional affairs. “While some root causes are not an easy fix, there are a number that can be addressed with concerted efforts between organizational management and pharmacy personnel including:

  • Opening lines for communication by listening to suggestions and then making changes in staffing and workflow.
  • Implementing policies that do not tolerate aggressive/abusive behavior from patients toward pharmacy personnel.
  • Immediately addressing unsafe environmental conditions in the pharmacy.
  • Implementing or enhancing nonpharmacy management training to understand their role in oversight of the pharmacy.”

In this reporting cycle (October through December 2023), 174 reports were received. Positive experiences reported included working with patients to assist in their understanding of how to use their medications and devices, identifying a duplicated medication and correcting the patient’s chart, and explaining the recommended vaccine schedule to a patient. As in past cycles, those who submitted positive experiences indicated that their experiences would have a long-term effect on their well-being.

While workplace conditions continue to be one of the primary reasons cited in the experience reports submitted to PWWR, verbal harassment from patients, caregivers, and pharmacy managers continues this cycle. Reporters during this cycle also identified a number of root causes that they believed triggered their negative experiences. As has been the case throughout 2023, the top three root causes reported this cycle were inadequate staffing, metrics, and workflow design/policies.

The learnings from this cycle’s analysis continue to be the lack of staffing (at all levels), lack of support staff training time, and an increase in demand that has created an unhealthy and unsafe work environment. More importantly, however, the underlying themes continue to appear to be a disconnect between upper management actions; cultures that are perceived to prioritize volume and profit over safety, quality, and difficult frontline conditions and concerns; and staffing hours formulas that are not aligned with the workload at the local level. Prevalent this cycle was the belief that PBMs have adversely changed the pharmacy landscape, especially as it relates to profitability in providing immunizations over prescription fulfillment and patient care.

“The PWWR tool remains a critical outlet for pharmacy staff seeking to voice their workplace grievances and frustrations when they have no other avenue. We applaud the courage it takes to propose improvements in the workplace but are disheartened that these suggestions are too often disregarded. We, as the profession, must tackle these genuine concerns,” said Krystalyn Weaver, PharmD, JD, NASPA executive vice president and CEO.

PWWR is an ongoing online confidential and anonymous service for pharmacy personnel to report positive and negative experiences across all pharmacy practices. Pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and student pharmacists are encouraged to submit positive and negative experience reports as often as they would like. In-depth analysis reports with trends and learnings will be periodically issued. A short snapshot of submissions will be issued each month. To submit an experience and read PWWR reports, visit www.pharmacist.com/pwwr.

The Alliance for Patient Medication Safety, a federally listed patient safety organization, analyzes the reports submitted to PWWR. Reports are protected by the confidentiality and privilege provisions of the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005. Actual submitted experience reports to PWWR cannot be disclosed or subpoenaed and are not subject to discovery in a legal proceeding.

1 PWWR Reports I through VII and monthly snapshot reports can be found at www.pharmacist.com/pwwr.

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