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Independent Community Pharmacist Retention During Shortage

Independent Community Pharmacist Retention During Shortage

Hospital Pharmacist JobsThe shortage of pharmacists nationally, fueled by the increased demand for pharmacists due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was a topic that we discussed on our blog posts all the way back in March of 2020 and then again in early April. Now with the nationally accepted recognition that the pharmacy profession has received as “frontline essential workers” during the pandemic, plus the new expansion of a pharmacist’s responsibilities and job duties, the current demand for pharmacists is almost staggering. With the independently owned retail pharmacies becoming so very important as a part of every community, let’s discuss how the shortage of pharmacists and technicians affects them in particular.

Are Independent Pharmacies Hardest Hit By The Shortage of Pharmacists?

In our previous blog post discussing employee turnover and retention of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in all types of pharmacy settings, we looked at the economic impact and other consequences of turnover in general, plus offered some tips and insights into employee retention versus replacement of valuable “lost” personnel.

Now let’s look more closely at perhaps the hardest hit area of the pharmacy community – the Independent Community Retail Pharmacy. Everyone still remembers how inconvenient the shortages of necessary commodities such as toilet paper, paper towels and hand sanitizer were at the beginning of the pandemic, but a shortage of pharmacists and pharmacy workers is currently still having disastrous effects on our national healthcare system.

Retail community pharmacists and their pharmacy co-workers have all been working long extended hours under unbelievable stressful conditions and, as everyone knows, they are the most accessible health care workers available to the general public. In most cities, towns and communities across the nation, the pharmacist is the most easily accessible healthcare provider and usually acts as the first “touchpoint” for a patient engaging with the US healthcare system. In fact, over ninety percent of all Americans reportedly live within five miles of a retail community pharmacy. This is especially true in many rural areas of our nation and in communities that additionally experience shortages of doctors and physicians. In those areas in particular, a pharmacist may be the only healthcare provider that is immediately within reach of many patients and their family members. Not only providing medications, prescriptions and medical supplies, pharmacists are being called on to be a source of the latest critical information and to be a support for the general public at large across the country.

Then came the call for pharmacists to both prescribe and administer vaccines and immunizations to heir patients that entirely changed the way a typical community retail drugstore operated. Pharmacists had to quickly adjust to accommodate the impact, as well as their much needed technicians. This led to what’s been termed “Pharmacist Burnout”, and also applies to the pharmacy technicians. Many could simply not deal with the change (or quickly got ill themselves), which resulted in so much stress that a significant number switched to hospital or clinical positions, or simply left the profession they were educated in and had practiced for their entire professional lives. According to the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA)’s 2021 economic health report this “exodus” from independent retail community pharmacies resulted in:
• Over two-thirds (68%) of all independent community pharmacies nationwide reported having a difficult time filling open pharmacist positions.
• A staggering 88% of independent pharmacies reported that pharmacy technicians are the most difficult positions to fill.

These staffing shortages that had never before been seen in by independent pharmacy owners have resulted in:
1. Reduced operating hours of community pharmacies (keeping in mind that a Registered Pharmacist must be physically present for a pharmacy to be open to both fill and dispense prescription medications).
2. Reduced revenue for the independent community pharmacies (with numerous patients leaving and opting for the convenience of mail-order prescription refills). The survey also revealed that over 41% of independent community pharmacy owners stated that the current overall financial health of their business is somewhat poor or very poor.
3. Increased incentive pay to pharmacy staff that obviously also results in decreased profitability. One must keep in mind that the rising costs cannot just be passed on to the patients because many of the reimbursements and fees are controlled by PBMs.
4. Greatly increased prescription dispensing waiting times for patients.
5. The turning away of patients seeking immunizations.

Tips For Independent Pharmacy Owners To Increase Pharmacist Retention

So how does the independent community pharmacy owner deal with this pharmacist shortage, increase R. Ph. & staff retention, plus remain profitable enough stay open during this critical time?

As we previously discussed in our previous post, certain retention strategies pertain to all areas and types of pharmacies:
– Increased communication with pharmacy staff
– Empowerment of employees to make decisions
– Offering a health benefits program, like a qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangement (QSEHRA)
– Recognition of individual achievements

Yet for the independent pharmacy owner there’s perhaps a more critical area to focus on than the usual raising of wages, offering more flexible work hours, and increasing benefits to attract new workers and increase employee retention:
Establishing an alliance and a relationship with an established and reputable Pharmacy Staffing Agency!

Contact a Pharmacy Staffing Firm NOW and be Prepared

Although increasing compensation, allowing flexible scheduling, plus offering new benefits such as tuition reimbursement and/or childcare allowances are all excellent retention strategies, perhaps the best way to deal with pharmacist burnout and employee turnover is to institute a working relationship with a proven and established national pharmacy staffing agency! The right staffing firm can provide experienced temporary “fill-in” pharmacists and technicians to help reduce workloads, stress, plus provide immediate much needed relief to overworked pharmacists and leads to a reduced occurrence of burnout among your workers. The right pharmacy staffing agency can also assist in you by providing qualified permanent full-time placement and can help find new team additions that fit your specific needs. The right staffing firm can also offer an independent pharmacy owner “temp-to-perm” options. In the long term, the owners themselves can relax and focus once again on what’s essential in making their independent pharmacy operation more profitable!

Choosing the pharmacy staffing firm that best suits your potential requirements and needs is essential. Choose a firm that’s not too small as to be geographically constrained and has a limited number of available pharmacists that meet your business’s needs. If you own or run a “smaller” pharmacy operation, it’s important that the staffing agency you partner with is not too large itself and, therefore, is service oriented when dealing with a “smaller” client’s immediate needs like yours.

The perfect choice is HCC (Healthcare Consultants Pharmacy Staffing & Consulting)! Our pharmacist staffing service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. HCC maintains one of the largest active pools of relief and temporary pharmacists in the nation, allowing us to quickly locate available, qualified and reliable pharmacists during any emergency situations that may arise. Our proprietary online system allows HCC to match your needs with the most qualified available candidates to work temporary relief during emergency times as these. HCC also ensures that our emergency pharmacists comply with all HIPAA requirements and also have and maintain professional liability insurance.

Please also note that HCC can also help fill all of your staffing needs regarding pharmacy technicians. HCC has been the leading provider of qualified, registered, licensed and professional pharmacy technicians (CPhTs) in Florida since 1989. As with pharmacists, satisfaction with our pharmacy technician staffing is guaranteed!

We strongly urge you to be proactive regarding establishing a relation with us now (this way all required paperwork is completed before an emergency situation actually occurs or, as is the case of the coronavirus we presently face, escalates). Then, when you do actually require an a relief pharmacist, HCC will be ready to meet your needs so that you can relax and rest easy. Call us now at (800) 642-1652 or take a moment and Contact Us Online and an HCC in-house staffing consultant will contact you as soon as possible to discuss all of your staffing needs.

About HCC Pharmacy Staffing & Consulting

With over three decades of experience in pharmacy staffing and pharmacy consulting, HCC has helped hundreds of pharmacies with employee turnover and retention problems. As one of the nation’s premiere pharmacy recruitment and placement agencies, HCC can also help you find you the best candidates available to fill your job openings. HCC has been a national leader since 1989 in regards to staffing, recruitment, permanent placement and direct hire. With HCC as your partner, you can rest assured that employee turnover and retention are one less area that you need to focus your limited and precious time on. So you can relax and concentrate on the profitability and growth of your pharmacy operation.

Contact us on line or call us today at 800-642-1652 for a Free Consultation to find out how we can help you too.

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Employee Turnover and Retention Of Pharmacists And Techs

pharmacy jobsWhat Is the Actual Cost of Employee Turnover?

Numerous studies have been performed in the past to help identify what losing an employee actually costs a business. Getting to an accurate assessment of the costs is a complicated process, involving various factors that may not accurately depict the “true” economic impact that losing a valued employee can cost a pharmacy business. Additionally, many of the factors that one needs to take into account to determine the cost are subjective and sometimes cannot be accurately measured. What makes it so hard are the numerous intangible (and often undocumented) costs associated with replacing a good employee. Yet a frequently quoted study released by the Center for American Progress determined that employee turnover costs can be estimated to be, at a minimum, almost 100% of the employee’s base salary. In the profession of pharmacy, depending on the individual’s salary and responsibilities, the study concluded that it can actually be as high as 300% in certain situations. The study also noted that for replacing “highly educated” employees such as a pharmacist, using the median of 200% is a pretty “safe bet”.

The study also took a good look at what costs a business owner needs to take into account and consider when faced with a high employee turnover rate. These include (but are not limited to):
1. The cost of advertising and attracting good potential workers to replace the individual (attracting candidates, interviewing them and hiring all take time).
2. The costs of on-boarding a new employee (not only the training time, but also the “hidden” management and human resources time that are required when someone new is hired).
3. The costs of off-boarding the employee leaving (again, the “hidden” management and human resources time required to take care of things like payroll, ongoing benefits such as Cobra insurance plans and record keeping).
4. Lost productivity (a new employee may take a year or more to reach the productivity of an existing worker).
5. The “Domino Effect” of losing other employees or seeing a decreased performance from other employees. This may be the hardest off all to accurately determine, keeping in mind that whenever an employee leaves, others are often times affected. Most times the other employees who see a high turnover rate in a company tend to disengage and the result is a  business wide decrease in productivity or the loss of another valuable pharmacy staff member.

Employee Retention Versus Employee Turnover

From the studies of what losing a valued employee actually costs a pharmacy owner, perhaps employee retention is a better way to solve the problem. Turnover is a “reactive” situation – the employee needs to be replaced as quickly as possible with the best candidate available. Retention is an “active” situation – it’s an ongoing and never ending process. Perhaps every pharmacy business owner should focus on a “retention strategy” to ensure that all of the key people are satisfied and happy. After all, happy employees not only remain loyal to a business, but are more productive and have a positive impact on a pharmacy’s bottom line and profitability.

Tips To Increase Employee Retention for Pharmacy Owners

Here are some tips and things that every business owner needs to consider to improve with employee retention and decrease staff turnover:
– Determine first off exactly what your employee retention and turnover rates actually are. How can you fix a problem that may not even exist – “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”. This also means that a business owner should always conduct an exit interview when a worker leaves, to help determine exactly why the person left and evaluate and document the retention problems that the company is currently facing, plus take a look at some of the possible solutions.
– Offer a health benefits program, like a qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangement (QSEHRA), sometimes referred to as a Small Business HRA. Studies showed that, although wages are obviously an important factor, health benefits are becoming perhaps one of the most common reasons that employees leave a job to go to work at another company. Also cited as critical when discussing employee turnover are factors such as future individual growth opportunities and appreciation from supervisors and management.
– Communicate with your employees. One of the biggest concerns that employees have is that they are treated as a “cost of doing business and not as an asset” by the owners and/or management. Many owners simply assume that everyone working at the pharmacy is happy. Initiate open communication by making the company’s vision and mission clear. Discuss the company’s goals and expectations so that each individual is clear as to where the business is heading. Also, consider regularly surveying all of your employees, but you must be willing to listen to open and constructive criticism and feedback. Otherwise your employees will not completely open themselves up and be honest.
– Empower your employees to make decisions on their own. This means that at times they may not make the right decision, but empowering employees allows them to feel management’s confidence in them and discourages the feeling of being micro-managed. This obviously assumes that you have a written job description for every employee that clearly lays out their duties, roles, responsibilities and tasks. Yet a great job description doesn’t limit the employee from being flexible, empowered and able to add to the business’s profitability.
– Recognize and reward their good work. Money as a bonus is always appreciated, but recognition of doing their job well actually means a lot more. Numerous studies have repeatedly shown that the number one reason that workers actively look for another job is that they feel unappreciated and undervalued. Just be sure that the praise is specific and that it is sincere. Additionally, keep in mind that you may have some employees that prefer to be recognized privately. Some people (such as technical or IT personnel) tend to dislike recognition in a public manner.

About HCC Pharmacy Staffing & Consulting

With over three decades of experience in pharmacy staffing and pharmacy consulting, HCC has helped hundreds of pharmacies with employee turnover and retention problems. As one of the nation’s premiere pharmacy recruitment and placement agencies, HCC can also help you find you the best candidates available to fill your job openings. HCC has been a national leader since 1989 in regards to staffing, recruitment, permanent placement and direct hire. With HCC as your partner, you can rest assured that employee turnover and retention are once less area that you need to focus your limited and precious time on. So you can both relax and concentrate on the profitability and growth of your pharmacy operation.

Contact us on line or call us today at 800-642-1652 for a Free Consultation to find out how we can help you too.

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Pharmacy Technician Shortage Hospitals and Health Systems

Pharmacy Technician Staffing and ResponsibilitiesThe national pharmacy technician shortages being seen in both hospital pharmacies and the majority of major US healthcare systems continues to expand almost exponentially according to the latest ASHP (American Society of Health-System Pharmacists) survey results just released.

An analysis from the new ASHP survey data indicates that there was a national turnover rate of greater than twenty-one percent (> 21%) in technician staffing seen last year (2021). Additionally noted, and perhaps even more alarming, was that over ten percent of the respondents to the survey of pharmacy administrators stated that they had actually lost two out of every five pharmacy technicians during 2021 (or an estimated 41% of their technician staffing).

How to Deal With the Pharmacy Technician Shortage

The survey cited that pharmacy technicians expressed frustration with their pay, workload, and work schedules. They also felt frustrated by the constant “shifts” in their job duties and responsibilities, as has also been documented as expressed by practicing pharmacists in almost all areas of the profession. The changes are now almost a “constant” in the practice of pharmacy since the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an expansion of a pharmacist’s role as a vital member of the healthcare team.

The point is that pharmacy administrators reported in the ASHP survey that they had implemented a variety of strategies to relieve the tech shortage, with nearly all increasing the use of overtime and about 90% using pharmacists to perform tasks usually handled by the pharmacy technicians. This may work for a while, but in the long-term will result in an increase in both medication errors and pharmacist “burn-out” according to most industry experts. Additionally, nearly 75% of hospital pharmacy administrators reported that they had offered base pay increases within the last year to attract and retain technicians, with most also offering off-cycle pay raises and other hiring and retention incentives. These incentives included paying for certification and recertification, educational expenses, formal technician training, and licensing and registration fees for technicians. The survey also revealed that over one-third (38%) had implemented internal technician training programs.

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Pharmacist Job Decline Predicted Amid Pharmacist Shortage

Staffing for pharmacies nationwide is already currently seeing a shortage of qualified pharmacists and technicians available, but the newest statistics point to an even darker scenario over the next decade for the US pharmacist job market. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) most current statistics that were just released, while the expected occupational average growth rate for all occupations over the next decade is predicted to be estimated at just above 4%, pharmacist employment is actually expected to decline during that period. Employment of pharmacists is projected to decline almost 2 percent during the decade of 2020 to 2030. Many find this so very disappointing after the aggressively forecasted growth rate that had been predicted of 4-6% that was expected to be seen between 2019 to 2021.

Pharmacy Staffing Shortage VS Pharmacist Unemployment Rate

Based on the National Pharmacist Workforce Study of 2014 and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, there’s always has been an expected 10% unemployment rate for new pharmacists starting in 2021, and that rate would grow by about 2% annually. Yet these numbers relate only to new pharmacists and the most recent statistics revealed by the NIH (National Library of Medicine) of that an estimated 4.4% of all pharmacists are currently unemployed, with higher rates occurring for female pharmacists, older pharmacists, and respondents of color, with the highest rate occurring (9.3%) for Black pharmacists.
Yet despite declining employment numbers, an estimated 11,300 new openings for pharmacists are projected each year, on average, over the coming decade. The majority of these “new” jobs for pharmacists that are being predicted are simply “replacement jobs” for the retiring members of the pharmacy profession, as well as replacing those pharmacists that have decided to change professions totally.
Yet there definitely is a nationwide pharmacy staffing shortage that currently exists. Consider the numbers supplied recently by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA)’s 2021 economic health report:
• 68% of independent pharmacies report having a difficult time filling staff positions
• 88% of independent pharmacies report that pharmacy technicians are the most difficult position to fill
• Staffing shortages have resulted in 1) reduced operating hours 2) increased incentive pay 3) turning away patients seeking immunizations 4) greater prescription dispensing waiting times

Why Are Pharmacy Jobs Declining?

One major reason is that the mail-order specialty pharmacies are booming, including such giants as Amazon Pharmacy and Mark Cuban’s CostPlus Drug Company. This trend will continue and greatly advance as more and more customers simply refill their prescriptions online and simply receive them through the mail (USPS).  The result will simply be less of a demand for pharmacists working in retail pharmacies and traditional community retail drug stores. Also, as the pharmacy chains start to reduce the number of their retail locations, the result will again be that there will simply be fewer jobs available.

Perhaps also worth noting as a major contributing factor in the rise of mail-order specialty pharmacies is the fact that every major insurance provider is connected directly to a major Pharmacy mail-order operation. The insurance coverage will offer the consumer incentives to utilize their own provider for refilling the patient’s prescriptions online and through the US mail.

How Can HCC Pharmacy Staffing help?

The bottom line is that no matter what such statistics as demand projections may reveal,  pharmacies are struggling  tremendously on a national basis to meet an incredible demand and suffering a severe shortage, which results in all sorts of downstream negative effects. Additionally, pharmacies are also dealing with an incredible increase of pharmacist burnout, while still having to meet pharmacist / tech staffing ratios, etc.

This is where HCC can help. We can help alleviate burnout, plus ramp up staffing when needed, and help pharmacies deliver and serve patients without reducing operating hours, and without increasing dispensing times, etc. Healthcare Consultants Pharmacy Staffing (HCC) is a Florida-based, full-service national pharmacy staffing and consulting company established in 1989 that’s been helping pharmacy owners and managers to relax when having to deal with staffing shortage issues such as we’re seeing in today’s healthcare work environment. For over three decades now, HCC’s clients have slept easier knowing that they are “partnered” with the finest pharmacy staffing agency available nationally.

The same holds true If you are a Pharmacist looking for work in a specific area (either temporary or permanent), and we encourage you to contact us today at 800-642-1652 to discuss how we can help you as an individual with a unique situation and needs. Having been in the Pharmacy Staffing business for over 3 decades now, HCC is known nationally for finding the right Pharmacist for the right position and visa versa.
Additionally, HCC is known as an industry leader in the field of Pharmacy Consulting. With a team of in-house experts, HCC can assist you with complex problems such as:

Development of Custom Policies and Procedures
– Technician Utilization Documentation
Pharmacy Management Consultation
Pharmacy licensing services covering all 50 states
Pharmacy audit & inspection preparation

Call us today at 800-642-162 or Contact us Online now for a Free Consultation to see how our team here at HCC can help you!


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