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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