WASHINGTON, DC—Today the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) and the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA) released the third installment of the Pharmacy Workplace and Well-being Reporting (PWWR) trends and findings report series.
Launched in October 2021, PWWR serves as safe space to submit both positive and negative pharmacy workplace experiences in a confidential and anonymous manner. To date, more than 1,100 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 goal of PWWR is to tell the stories of those who submit their experiences so that profession may begin to act on the findings.
The learnings from this cycle’s analysis provides a roadmap for pharmacy personnel employers and the profession at large to address harassment and communication concerns.
“Workplace issues across pharmacy practice and their relationship to personal well-being and patient safety continue to be a critical, complex issue,” said Ilisa Bernstein, PharmD, JD, FAPhA, APhA interim executive vice president and CEO. “The over 1,100 deidentified reports submitted since last year’s launch of PWWR tell a collective, powerful story that we hope will spark change and improvement in the pharmacy workplace not only right now, but in future of pharmacy practice. We are concerned to see that the most recent reporting cycle confirms observed trends of pharmacy staff encountering threats and harassment from patients/consumers and work colleagues.”
In this reporting cycle (mid-January through mid-August 2022), 173 reports were received. Positive experiences that were reported ranged from changes in pharmacy hours to enhanced work-life balance to reviewing patient charts to determine the best medication therapy to a workflow system that enhances patient safety and increases efficiency to a supportive pharmacy manager. Those who submitted positive experiences indicated that those experiences would have a long-term effect on their well-being.
As observed in the first two released reports, negative submissions from pharmacy staff dealing with threats and harassment from patients/consumers and/or work colleagues (e.g., coworkers, pharmacy managers, nonpharmacy managers, supervisors) continues to be concerning. The reported experiences included verbal, emotional, and/or sexual harassment; threatened or actual physical harm; and microaggressions. Additionally, work-related mental health problems are described in explicit detail, perhaps signaling a larger incidence of these cases that are underreported.
“PWWR is a protected space that gives voice and amplification to pharmacy personnel’s concerns and offers suggested solutions while mitigating the fear of reporting. The disturbing trend of workplace harassment from patients, consumers, and coworkers is a call to action for the profession to take the necessary steps to address these real concerns,” said Rebecca Snead, RPh, FAPhA, NASPA executive vice president and CEO.
A continuing concern in this analysis cycle is the reported lack of open channels of communications. Of those who submitted negative experiences, 68% indicated that they offered recommendations to management, and nearly all of them indicated that their recommendations were not considered or applied, causing them to feel ignored and unvalued. Thirty-two percent did not offer recommendations because they fear retaliation, they fear being labeled a complainer, they recognize there is little a middle manager can do, and/or they believe that nothing will happen if their recommendations are reported.
The disconnect in communication between staff-level employees and upper management manifested in submission narratives was prevalent in this analysis cycle.
The Alliance for Patient Medication Safety, a federally recognized patient safety organization (PSO), 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 submission reports to PWWR cannot be disclosed or subpoenaed, and they are not subject to discovery in a legal proceeding.
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 the full PWWR Reports, visit www.pharmacist.com/pwwr.
APhA is the only organization advancing the entire pharmacy profession. Our expert staff and strong volunteer leadership, including many experienced pharmacists, allow us to deliver vital leadership to help pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians find success and satisfaction in their work and advocate for changes that benefit them, their patients, and their communities. For more information, please visit www.pharmacist.com.
NASPA, founded in 1927 as the National Council of State Pharmacy Association Executives, is dedicated to enhancing the success of state pharmacy associations in their efforts to advance the profession of pharmacy. NASPA’s membership is comprised of state pharmacy associations and over 70 other stakeholder organizations. NASPA promotes leadership, sharing, learning, and policy exchange among its members and pharmacy leaders nationwide.