The value of polling pharmacy professionals is on display by the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy, where a proposal for a Pharmacist Workload Advisory Committee is underway to address staffing issues as well as safe working conditions in pharmacies across the state of Ohio.
While states like Ohio are starting to make progress with pharmacy reform, including a focus on shutting down corrupt practices of PBMs, going state by state is not enough.
This is the power of national polling within the profession. United Pharmacy Association (URPhA) recognizes that value and offers a platform to get the job done.
Answering polls can make a massive difference and it only takes about one minute per week.
This is the first quarterly report for United Pharmacy Association. URPhA just launched mid-January 2021. This report is an analysis of the first 12 weeks of polling.
The number of respondents is still too few to create more complete and accurate analysis of the profession within the context of any subject matter polled. For this reason, different versions or extensions of this first quarter’s polls will be posted again as the number of respondents grows to become impressionable.
Currently, the results of 12 weeks of polling and 24 poll questions provide a rough draft of how the profession trends on certain issues.
The pandemic is a hot button issue and is an important issue for pharmacy professionals to be heard on. So, what did we learn about pharmacy folks and the pandemic?
Do masks work?
We didn’t actually ask that question in any of our polls.
We did ask how flu season went.
82% of pharmacy professionals polled nationwide said they saw a noticeable reduction of flu virus cases this 2020-2021 flu season.
We will let the public decide what that says about the actions we can all take to stop the spread of communicable disease.
Has working during the pandemic restored your sense of purpose?
Pharmacists and technicians differed widely here. 63% of pharmacists said no. Whereas 70% of pharmacy technicians polled said yes, the pandemic had renewed their sense of purpose. This is a case where more polling is necessary to find out where the differences occur and why.
In early February, URPhA polls asked how pharmacy professionals felt regarding the safety of the COVID vaccine.
70% said they weren’t sure, but at the same time 40% said they’d get it as soon as it was available to them. At that time, 32% said they didn’t know when they would feel comfortable getting it.
In mid-February we asked if pharmacy professionals had seen an increase in prescriptions and/or doses of depression/anxiety medications in the last year.
47% said yes, with another 14% saying they didn’t work with patients directly, but saw an increase in those around them. 20% did not notice a change.
How stressful has the pandemic been for pharmacy folks?
On the stressful scale:
27% said that the pandemic had not been stressful for them.
25% said it was very stressful.
20% said it was moderately stressful.
19% said extremely stressful.
8% said a little stressful.
All told, 64% said it was stressful to some degree.
Should pharmacy technicians be certified to immunize?
36% of pharmacy professionals said no.
33% said yes.
24% said usually no, but in emergency circumstances like the pandemic yes.
7% said not sure.
Another trending issue in the profession right now is the workplace environment. Last year we saw articles hit the New York Times and a few other major media outlets regarding the dangerous conditions of the retail environment. Approximately 80% of our respondents work in the retail setting for large corporations.
An issue that has come up repeatedly over the years, in polls and in feedback from pharmacy associates, is the danger and burden caused by being understaffed.
What is the biggest reason mistakes get made in a pharmacy?
60% of pharmacy professionals who responded said being understaffed is the biggest contributing factor to mistakes being made, and another 19% said being understaffed and overworked with excessive metrics were the two major reasons for mistakes. 12% said too many duties along with too many internal distractions.
Is the pharmacy you work in understaffed?
84% of pharmacists said yes.
81% of technicians said yes.
How many tech hours are needed per 100 prescriptions filled?
Responses were spread evenly across the board. 30% said between 5 and 10 hours.
More questions are needed to analyze whether or not there is one size fits all formula or whether a simple minimum can be applied to all settings.
Would you trust the pharmacy you work in to fill your or your family’s prescriptions if you were not there to fill them?
44% of pharmacists and technicians said yes.
32% said yes their store/staff only, but they wouldn’t trust other stores within the same company.
18% said no, ouch.
5% said not sure.
Who has the most control over company policy as it relates to the practice of pharmacy?
The most popular response was CEOs. 44% of pharmacists and 55% of technicians felt the CEOs have control over pharmacy policies within the company.
When asked how often do you feel valued by your supervisor?
37% of pharmacists said once in a while. 25% of pharmacists said very rarely and 21% said very often.
25% of technicians often, 25% of technicians said once in a while, and 25% of technicians said very rarely.
The even spread may suggest that this is the kind of question where it’s not possible to find a trend, because how a person feels about their boss has too many variables.
When asked, what makes a supervisor good?
The winner at 40% – leading by example, 29% voted for “listens to feedback and is open to change” based on it, 22% voted for “supportive and having my back”, 4% voted for “keep their word.”
When asked, do you feel your direct supervisor is an honest, ethical person?
64% of pharmacy professionals said yes. It’s worth noting that in almost all cases the “direct supervisor” will be a pharmacist, and the public trusted pharmacists at exactly the same rate, at 64% for the Gallup Poll regarding the most honest and ethical professions. Still, 24% of pharmacy associates said no, their direct supervisor is not an honest, ethical person, and 10% said not sure.
When asked, do you feel that your employer provides and honest and ethical company culture?
54% of pharmacy professionals said no. 36% said yes, and 12% said not sure.
This tells us that the community pharmacists are seen as more honest and ethical than the company employing them.
When asked how often are your ideas better than your supervisor’s?
33% said almost always, and another 33% said often. 10% said half the time and 10% said almost never because they mostly agree with their supervisor.
Have pharmacy professionals seen their ideas adopted by the company they work for and used in the workplace?
43% said they’d never seen it happen. 28% had seen it happen more than once and 19% said they’d seen it once before.
Depending on your standards these numbers may seem positive or negative. On one hand, 47% of respondents had seen ideas of store level pharmacy associates implemented. But if once is not enough, especially if you’ve had a long career, then 28% seeing it somewhat regularly still leaves a lot of room for improvement, considering the 43% who have never seen it happen at any point in their career.
Do companies retaliate? Do State Boards of Pharmacy retaliate?
Company retaliation polled at 45% of pharmacy professionals having experienced it or witnessed it by the company they work for.
Conversely, and thankfully, 84% of pharmacy professionals had never witnessed retaliation from their state board of pharmacy.
How often have pharmacy professionals given feedback or filed complaints regarding a person or policy?
Even with the state boards of pharmacy polling as largely not practicing retaliation, pharmacists and technicians ranked mostly inactive when reaching out to BOPs or government representatives, with 64% saying they have never written to their congressperson, governor or any other representative regarding their concerns about the practice of pharmacy. 74% had never communicated a concern or problem to their BOP.
Is your wage on par with your work?
50% of pharmacists said yes.
42% pharmacists said no, they are underpaid.
81% of technicians said no, they are underpaid.
19% techs said yes.
Should the pharmacy staff be allowed to fire customer for treating staff poorly?
Nobody said no.
73% said yes, it’s a judgment call, and 27% said yes, if it is something extreme like threatening violence.
What is the most rewarding thing about your pharmacy work?
42% said “patients telling me they appreciate me.”
22% said “the paycheck.”
17% said “knowing I am good at my job.”
16% said “I do not know anymore.”
Do you love your job?
54% said they do love their job most of the time, another 10% said yes all the time,
27% said no most of time, and another 9% said no all the time.
Should drug commercials be banned?
76% of pharmacists said yes.
70% of technicians said yes.
With 12 weeks of polling under our belt, we’ve been able to confirm and understand some of the issues being faced by pharmacy associates who serve their communities at the store level.
The pandemic has been stressful for most, and feelings about it and the vaccine come in all different forms. While the majority of pharmacy workers mostly love their job, and most trust their immediate supervisor, the majority also think they have better ideas than their supervisor, and the vast majority feel that the pharmacy they work in is understaffed. The ideas of ground level pharmacy professionals seem to be ignored most of the time, and very few are willing to speak out.
THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!!