What’s the right treatment plan for pharmacist workforce supply and demand imbalance?

Imbalances between workforce supply and demand are notoriously difficult to resolve. Market corrections can take decades to work themselves out, and leaving the market to self-correct doesn’t help those who are suffering today. APhA aims to tackle the problem, yet this stuff is hard! Still, our proactive efforts have opened some potential avenues to progress.

We’re making headway, but just as market and practice changes took time, so will solutions. APhA’s leadership has targeted the current challenges that affect pharmacist and pharmacy personnel well-being and resilience since June 2017, and our efforts picked up through the discussions of our 2018 House of Delegates. The complexities we’re facing include workforce changes, health care and societal economics and their associated pressures, payer policies, and provider status. It isn’t as simple as “too many schools!”

We’re still working on the profession’s big picture issues, including provider status and other regulatory, financial, and legislative remedies. We’re also going after short term issues, such as

  • Payment policies that harm pharmacy practices’ sustainability and ability to safely provide services to patients.
  • Pharmacy safety concerns that are very real and must be addressed.
  • Workplace conditions that make many frontline pharmacists feel like they’re in an assembly line. System efficiencies, use of technology, and reductions in administrative burdens can reduce practitioner pain points and allow enhanced focus on patient care.
  • Concerns about retaliation against staff who speak up. Retaliation is a violation of the most basic tenets of patient safety systems. At APhA2018 and APhA2019, the APhA House of Delegates adopted policy officially opposing retaliation and expressing our support for systems that enable pharmacists to share their patient safety concerns without fear of losing their job or facing sanctions.
  • Pharmacist and pharmacy personnel well-being. Self-care and resilience are essential for any health professional, and pharmacist well-being is at the center of a major new APhA initiative we’re getting off the ground. Our November 2018 statement on pharmacist and pharmacy personnel well-being and resiliency identifies important parts of the equation, such as employer/workplace issues, payment policies, pharmacist recognition, and system issues.

We will convene a consensus conference in July 2019 to facilitate collaborative, respectful dialogue among employers and pharmacy staff, educators, regulators, and policymakers that balances their respective needs and objectives. Stay tuned to learn more about the outcomes of our July 2019 consensus conference.

You can add your voice to this conversation on our members-only online community Engage or on APhA’s Facebook and Twitter.