Emergency relief pharmacists are always in demand, but the recent announcement last week in California that over 1,400 Pharmacy Practice Exams were invalidated is already having a “ripple effect” regarding the profession’s ability to meet emergency needs. The students that were impacted make a valid point that many have lost job opportunities and money because of the exams being invalidated. Many students are facing repayment of their student loans coming due before they’re able to afford repaying them. Yet on the “flipside” of the story is the effect this situation has on numerous employers like pharmacy owners and managers. It’s important to always keep in mind that in situations such as these the end result can be a possible shortage of pharmacists available to do temporary and relief work in some emergency situations.
Temporary Relief Pharmacists in Emergencies
Needing temporary pharmacists during emergency situations can sometimes pose what seems like insurmountable obstacles to the pharmacy owner and manager. Last year in 2018 the hurricanes in both Texas and Florida had triggered discussions with several HCC clients regarding various scenarios and situations that can occur when an emergency relief pharmacist can be of critical importance to your drugstore even being open for business. Because a pharmacy can not legally be open for business without a registered pharmacist on duty, sometimes the pharmacy owner or store manager is faced with the dilemma of finding a pharmacist quickly or having to close the pharmacy’s doors and shut the business down until a pharmacist can be found. Emergencies such as the severe weather that accompanies a hurricane can prevent a pharmacist scheduled to work a certain shift from returning safely from evacuation if it’s required. This also applies if the pharmacist was on vacation and severe weather leads to the closing of airports that will simply impede or delay his or her return to work.
Additionally, the death of a family member, personal illness, accidents and other unforeseen events can lead to emergency situations that can force a pharmacy to shut down. This not only results in lost business, but can cause severe stress and frustration to loyal customers and patients who rely on the pharmacy being open for their medications and health needs. This can be even more critical in rural communities and small towns where sometimes only one pharmacy is open and operates. With no pharmacists to rely on for “back-up”, emergencies from not having a registered pharmacist available can quickly turn into an escalating crisis for an entire community.
Why Use a Pharmacy Staffing Agency?
In the past it was often the case that a pharmacist’s co-workers would simply fill in when needed to. To cover for an illness, vacations and situations like a death in the family, all of the other pharmacists simply worked overtime or called their friends to fill in. Yet for several reasons this has shifted to the utilization of pharmacy staffing agencies and staffing firms over the past decade.
The first reason is that several recent studies have linked long shifts and hours worked by pharmacists to severe increases in medication errors. In one study published by the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Advisers (NAPRA) it was noted that “pharmacists who are overburdened and understaffed present a very real threat of harm to the patients who depend on them”. Another study performed at the Houston Methodist Hospital documented that an exponential relationship can be seen between a pharmacist’s workload and working long shifts to an alarming increase in medication dispensing errors. Some states are even considering legislation over the past several years regarding setting limits on how many hours per shift and hours a week that a pharmacist should be allowed to work.
The second reason cited for the shift to using pharmacy staffing agencies is that overworked pharmacists have been shown to “burn out” and to quickly develop a negative attitude toward their profession. A great article in Pharmacy Times noted that excessive overtime, long shifts and being on-call constantly, all contribute to the extremely high rate of “burn out” seen in the pharmacy profession. The result is that more and more pharmacists are choosing not to work part time jobs or do relief work any longer.
Lastly is the expense and cost. By using a pharmacy staffing agency for relief pharmacists, the pharmacy can save on all of the following:
– Hiring expenses and the time required
– HR expenses such as criminal background checks, license verification, drug screening and paperwork
– Payroll taxes
– Accounting expenses
– Overtime pay
Some accounting experts estimate that all of the above expenses can add up to an increase of over 60% per hour when compared to hiring a pharmacist on staff paid by the hour.
Choosing an Emergency Pharmacy Staffing Agency
As with all other vendors, choosing the right pharmacy staffing agency is critical. You want one that is not too small as to be geographically constrained and that has a limited number of viable pharmacists that meet your specific needs. You also want one that is not too large and therefor is not service oriented when dealing with a “smaller” clients immediate needs.
The perfect choice if you’re pharmacy is located in the Southeast is HealthCare Consultants Pharmacy Staffing. Our emergency pharmacist staffing service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. HCC maintains one of the largest active pools of emergency pharmacists in the nation, thus allowing us to quickly locate available, qualified and reliable pharmacists in the following states: Florida, Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Alabama. Our proprietary online system allows us to match your needs with the most qualified candidate to work relief during your emergency. HCC also ensures that all of our emergency pharmacists comply with all HIPAA requirements and maintain professional liability insurance. As always, with HealthCare Consultants Pharmacy Staffing, your satisfaction is guaranteed!
Please also note that HCC can fill all of your emergency relief staffing needs regarding pharmacy technicians (in Florida only). HCC has been the leading provider of qualified, registered, licensed and professional pharmacy technicians (CPhTs) in Florida since 1989. As with emergency pharmacists, satisfaction with our emergency 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). Then, when you require an emergency 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 emergency and staffing needs.