The COVID-19 pandemic and a rise in pharmacy recruitment activity taking place in the near future are two topics now being talked about in the same discussions that tie into our previous post over a week ago regarding the possibility of a shortage of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians throughout the United States. As we had pointed out back then, retail community pharmacists, technicians and the other ancillary pharmacy staff are the most accessible healthcare workers that are available to the public at large. In most areas of the country, the community pharmacist is the most easily approachable of all possible healthcare providers and usually acts as the first “touchpoint” for patient engagement within our nation’s 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 where a pharmacist may be the only healthcare provider that is immediately within the geographical reach of most patients and their family members. Not only dispensing prescriptions and supplying OTC medications and other medical supplies, pharmacists are now being called on to be a primary source of the latest critical information about the pandemic, plus to be a support for their community and neighbors across the USA.
What Is the Real Situation Pharmacists Face Because of the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Taking a look at three recent news stories in just the past seventy-two hours will help answer this question: What’s the real situation that pharmacists are facing and dealing with caused by the onslaught of the Coronavirus pandemic?
Shortages of “Everything” in New York City Pharmacies
Everyone around the nation is familiar with the shortages of commodities like toilet paper, paper towels and hand sanitizers that the impending arrival of the coronavirus initiated, but now in New York City, where the Coronavirus is hitting hardest, retail pharmacies are literally out of “everything”. Basic things such as thermometers, Tylenol, masks and gloves are out of stock and all on backorder for the next several months. As one NYC pharmacy owner said: “I never thought a pharmacy in the 21st century can run out of essentials, the most basic medications”. Additionally, most prescription medications and medical devices used to treat COVID-19 are also unavailable, on backorder, or in drastically short supply. The hope that using the combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin would prove effective in fighting the virus is virtually nil when one considers that both drugs are unavailable and probably will remain that way for months to come.
In lieu of the shortages, pharmacists and their fellow pharmacy employees are fighting the pandemic on the “front lines” in New York City neighborhoods that have been hit the hardest by the Coronavirus. Even though most drugstores allow only limited pedestrian entry, or no entry at all to the public, pharmacists are actually working “around the clock”. As examples, in Queens, the New York Borough that so far has seen the hardest hit neighborhoods in the city, pharmacists are working all day with sick patients and a panicked community and then continuing on throughout the night getting prescriptions ready for the following day. As one New York City pharmacist stated: “The truth is we never close. We close the doors, but we don’t close the work.” Now in some of the hard hit areas, most pharmacy employees, worried about getting exposed to the coronavirus themselves, are no longer coming to work. Eventually the long, stressful hours, combined with the increased possibility of exposure to the virus, will catch up and pharmacists themselves will become victims of this dreadful pandemic.
Survey Shows Pharmacy Technicians Feel Unsafe and Scared During COVID-19 Pandemic
The National Pharmacy Technician Association (NPTA) released a survey on Friday (April 3rd, 2020) that was called “COVID-19: A Survey of Pharmacy Technicians”. The survey clearly showed that pharmacy technicians felt unsafe working in their pharmacy during this COVID-19 pandemic. The techs also felt that their employers were not doing enough regarding protecting the safety and well-being of the pharmacy staffs on duty. From the survey’s results that were released it was clear that most of the pharmacy techs felt unsafe, uninformed, not very protected, and also ill-equipped as a result of the lack of both support and resources from their employers. This was particularly true in the large chain stores, large retail and grocery store pharmacy operations. Community independent retail pharmacies and hospital pharmacies did much better on the survey.
The NPTA also reported (along with the survey) that they’ve been receiving numerous complaints from their technician membership about safety concerns. According to the NPTA, one of the nation’s largest Rx chains is prohibiting all pharmacy personnel from wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) at work, even if they supply it themselves, because it “looks unprofessional and they don’t want to alarm their customers”. The NPTA is demanding that all regulatory agencies and State Boards of Pharmacy immediately take action and require that all employers take immediate action and use all precautions possible in order to safeguard both the pharmacists and pharmacy technicians that are “serving on the frontline of this pandemic”. Otherwise these professionals will themselves get sick or stop showing up for work soon.
Rutgers University School of Pharmacy Accelerates Graduation
The Rutgers University School of Pharmacy announced that 25% of its final year pharmacy doctorate students will graduate early and be ready to help in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the first time in US history that a pharmacy school will graduate students early in order to provide badly needed practitioners to work in a retail &/or hospital pharmacy setting. According to a press release by the University, Joseph Barone, Dean of the School of Pharmacy, stated that in New Jersey currently “we are starting to see pharmacy staffing issues across the state from increased demand and a workforce strained by personnel who have become sick, are quarantined or are caring for family. We expect continued impacts for the remainder of the year”.
Will Pharmacy Recruitment Activity Increase Around the US?
The result that one can forecast from all of these news stories is that in the near future the demand for pharmacists in certain geographic areas of the country will most likely overtake the supply available because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This seems especially true in the top dozen afflicted states where the virus is rampant currently:
Can the other states really be far behind? Most experts think not.
Who Can I Talk To At HCC About Pharmacist Recruitment?
The Pharmacy Recruitment Division at HealthCare Consultants Pharmacy Staffing is managed by Linton Creel, our Vice President of Professional Recruitment and Placement. Linton has extensive knowledge in the area of pharmacy recruitment and his duties include overseeing all aspects of permanent placement, direct hire and recruitment. As a professional pharmacist recruiter, Linton serves as the liaison between the client and the qualified professionals to fill a pharmacy position resulting in the best possible candidate match possible for our clients. As a pharmacist recruiting expert, Linton takes the time necessary to build a solid relationship with you and learn about your business and your individual preferences and needs. This makes him uniquely qualified to help you locate the best possible candidates for your operation and company – now and in the future – and gives you immediate access to a broader, more talented pool of candidates than you would be able to reach on your own.
Click here to “meet” Linton and learn more about him.
In addition to staffing, recruitment, placement and direct hire of pharmacists, HCC additionally offers the finest pharmacy consulting services available throughout the USA. Customized Policy and Procedure Manuals (including 503A&B), audit and inspection preparation, pharmacy business efficiency reviews, and business management services are just a few of the consulting services that we have specialized in over 31+ years of serving our clients and their specific individual needs.
Call us today at 800.642.1652, or contact us online to discuss your needs. We are so confident you will be satisfied that we offer a six month pro-rated satisfaction guarantee!