The issue of getting qualified relief or temporary pharmacist staffing when you suddenly need a pharmacist became an even larger one based on the news the past several weeks regarding two pharmacy schools either losing their accreditation or facing the possibility of losing it. Let’s quickly discuss the two cases receiving all of this media attention that’s focused on them and how it could affect your pharmacy operation and business when you require or need a pharmacist in the future.
Hampton University Loses Accreditation
At their Board of Directors meeting in January of 2020, The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), announced that they had revoked the Hampton University School of Pharmacy’s accreditation. Interestly, the school’s Pharm.D.(doctor of pharmacy) program had been placed on probation all the way back in July of 2017. The Board cited that two of its primary educational standards, “progression & educational outcomes”, had not been met by the educational institution.
State laws requires all pharmacists to graduate from an ACPE-accredited school in order to work as a R.Ph. or Pharm.D. The ACPE did allow Hampton University to implement a plan that lets currently enrolled students switch schools and thus graduate from an accredited program. But after the class of 2023, graduates won’t have degrees from an accredited pharmacy college or school. It should be noted that the Hampton University pharmacy program is currently placed on “probationary status” while it appeals the ACPE revocation of their accreditation.
Auburn University Cheating Investigation Underway
The Harrison School of Pharmacy at Auburn University in Alabama is under investigation for alleged widespread cheating by pharmacy students. Auburn University’s pharmacy program was ranked by the most recent U.S. News & World Report to be among the top twenty percent (20%) in the nation, offering students both Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Pharmacy degrees, as well as graduate degrees in Pharmaceutical Sciences.
In an email last week to the student body at the pharmacy school, Dean Richard A. Hansen PhD stated that: “Last week we learned of potentially widespread cheating among our P1-P3 students. We are still gathering information, but I wanted everyone to be aware of the issue, the actions we are taking, and our anticipated timeline. After gathering some initial data, I addressed each of the P1 – P3 classes and offered leniency for those that voluntarily came forward. Since this time, we have met with a number of students that have revealed their actions and identified others that were involved. This continues to unfold as we uncover new people involved”.
Although some students may have voluntarily come forward and cooperated with the investigators, it’s anticipated that students who did not turn themselves in will face further sanctions or even potential dismissal from the pharmacy school’s program.
Fewer Pharmacist To Choose From?
The two examples cited above can only add to the problem of more relief and temporary pharmacist jobs than pharmacists available to fill them. Being in the pharmacy staffing industry for over 31+ years now, our experience is that there are far fewer pharmacists who choose to work extra jobs as relief. The same is true of those that choose to work only in temporary pharmacy staffing positions.
Based on a survey released by the AACP (American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy) in 2014 called the National Pharmacist Workforce Study, statistics revealed that only about 8% of all pharmacists nationally worked a second job as a relief pharmacist. Back in the 1990’s this number was estimated to be around 15%. Additionally, the average extra time worked by a pharmacist as relief was an estimated six hours weekly. This represents a significant decrease from the estimated 10 – 12 hours that pharmacists “moon lighted” back in the 1990’s. The study noted that a significant decrease regarding available pharmacists working part-time or as relief was seen every year since 2009. One can only see this trend continuing, leading to a smaller pool of pharmacists to choose from should you need them.
What Are the Issues of Finding Pharmacy Relief Services?
The issues involved that one should think about in the finding a relief pharmacist can be summed up quickly:
– What staffing agency should I call?
Many find that the pharmacy staffing agencies are either very small or very large when needing one. The smaller ones have very limited resources, while the larger ones are harder to do business with as a new client (as they are focused primarily on satisfying their existing regular and mostly larger clients first).
– Do they have experienced and dependable Pharmacists to send for relief services?
Many pharmacy staffing agencies have a very limited pool of candidates to choose from. Being limited geographically may mean that their available resources are already being utilized, or that the pharmacists that they can offer may not be dependable. What could be worse than expecting some peace of mind while dealing with a personal emergency situation and getting a call that the temporary pharmacist was a “no show” that day?
– Quality choices that meet your specific needs are a major concern.
If you are operating any type of specialty pharmacy (compounding, IV infusion, oncology, mail order, etc.) you may realize that not just any relief pharmacist can walk in and function in your environment. This may be true in many retail community pharmacy environments also. Even with experience, is the pharmacist of the quality and possess the required experience and skills that you (and your patients) expect?
– Pricing and costs are always a consideration!
A major factor in choosing a pharmacy staffing agency to meet your relief needs is obviously the cost. In certain instances the pricing may be a secondary issue, but let’s be realistic: Price is always an issue. When it comes to supply and demand, an agency with few available candidates will charge more. Travel charges may also be added on that will inflate the cost of the fill-in pharmacist. Also keep in mind that in the 1990’s the average salary for a pharmacist was about $50,000. Comparing that number to the average pharmacist’s salary of between $112,000 – $119,000 in 2016, one can easily draw the conclusion that perhaps the cost of a relief or temp pharmacist prohibits a pharmacy owner from ever going on a vacation or having an emergency!
– Seasonality is sometimes a major concern when getting pharmacy relief for your business.
In many cases seasonality will affect both the availability and the price. High demand during certain times of the year are a normal factor on both pharmacist selection and cost. Holidays are a great example. How many qualified pharmacists want to actually spend the major holidays working? Recent statistics show that fewer and fewer pharmacists will give up their precious “free time” than ever before.
Being Prepared Versus Reactive
To avoid future problems when looking for a relief pharmacist and for available qualified pharmacists to meet any temporary needs you may have that arise, one must embrace the following adage that most major companies have learned over time: Hiring is an ongoing process not event. Another way of saying it is be prepared. Here at HCC Pharmacy Staffing we have been actively “preaching” to both clients and potential clients to be pro-active when it comes to the issue of getting a dependable and qualified relief pharmacist in place for when the need arises. Yet the reality is that the majority of pharmacy owners are reactive and not prepared when the time comes. The old cliche that has become HCC’s tagline over the past 30+ years is that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”! This certainly applies to getting an experienced and dependable temporary pharmacist quickly when the situation requires one.
About Healthcare Consultants Pharmacy Staffing
At Healthcare Consultants Pharmacy Staffing we have been helping pharmacies throughout the Southeastern United States with temp and relief pharmacists for over 31+ years now. HCC centers its focus primarily on the following six states:
– South Carolina
– North Carolina
We encourage you to be pro-active in regards to the issue of getting dependable and qualified pharmacists for relief when the need arises for you. Healthcare Consultants Pharmacy Staffing has been a national leader in regards to temporary Pharmacist staffing and is known as a “full service” Pharmacy staffing company since 1989. With all the services that we provide to pharmacies, it is sometimes easy to overlook the fact the we are one of the most successful and respected pharmacy staffing firms in the nation. Our pool of qualified and dependable pharmacists available covers all aspects of job types: retail, hospital, clinical and specialty pharmacies.
Call us today at 800.642.1652, or contact us online to talk with our experienced staff to start a discussion on how we may be able to help you. That way when you do need a temporary or relief pharmacist, help is only a phone call away!