You Can’t Take Another Moment of Your Job. Now What?

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You may have already joined “the great resignation” or maybe you’re at the point where every time you have to go in for a shift, you feel anxious, suffocated, and exhausted. So many have left their jobs as pharmacists or pharmacy technician. Some retired because they could. Some resigned without a plan.

What’s next?

It seems as if looking for more work in the field is futile. You’re burnt on pharmacy work. What kind of work would pay well enough to afford your current lifestyle, and not be a miserable cesspool of overworked individuals who are either about to collapse or have a mental breakdown?

We are still in the middle of a pandemic. We are still in the middle of social and political discord. Dealing with people, on any level, seems grim. Yet, you need money to survive. It’s not possible to exhaust your savings, or move back in with your parents.

This is difficult. And it is the position many healthcare professionals find themselves in now. It is happening in other industries.

The pandemic resulted in exhaustion, and it brought to light the fact that many American workers are not treated well by their employers to begin with. In pharmacy, polls and surveys, as well as news articles, show that large chain pharmacies are understaffed. These sources show that pharmacists feel overwhelmed by the workload and by expectations to meet numerous metrics. We are tired of being treated like machines, like cash cows. The companies we work for rake in billions in profits, and they refuse to adequately staff the stores that directly serve the patient population.

Ok, so we know the problem. Now what?

Dare I suggest activism? If you’re “working from home” to find a job, why not write a few emails while you are there?

You will find a job. Even outside of your career, so many places are hiring. But here, we run into another problem. You can find a job that does not pay well enough to sustain your current lifestyle. You can find a job in pharmacy, but it is the one you don’t want.

Overall, some of the data shows that large companies offer the worst working conditions, and very few small to medium sized companies are hiring. The bulk of places that are hiring are the jobs we don’t want to work.

There’s a way to fix the problem.

Temporary fixes like strikes or boycotts haven’t given permanent solutions.

Gratifying work, where you’re paid well and supported, is what you seek.

Here’s how we get there:

  1. Let every employer you interview with know that you will not work in an environment that is understaffed, or with staff who are not trained correctly. This takes courage. And you probably will not get the job in most cases. If all of us start doing this, the industry changes. You’ll be surprised how good it feels to be empowered.
  2. Do write to both your State Board of Pharmacy, your Governor, and your Representatives in Congress. Let them know about your experience. Let them know why you do not want to return to work in pharmacy. Make a few suggestions for legislation. If all of us start doing this, the industry changes.
  3. Support a pharmacy cause by either making a monetary contribution, writing an article and getting it published, or volunteer for a pharmacy cause. Some of us don’t have much time for activism, but we can donate to others who can go talk to colleges of pharmacy, lawmakers, or state boards of pharmacy. There are many organizations and campaigns going on in pharmacy right now. Now is the time to act because we have rarely seen this kind of momentum in our field.
  4. Take polls. We can’t emphasize enough how important polls are. We highlight the efforts and achievements of the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy, where a Pharmacist Workload Advisory Committee has been formed to address workplace issues in pharmacies in Ohio. This committee was formed due to the results of polls. It does help, and it only takes a few minutes.
  5. Keep looking for work where you will be supported and paid well. As we move along, to achieve better conditions for our beloved profession, there will be more opportunities to work for employers who will adhere to our current expectations. Don’t accept positions that require you to compromise your standards. Keep going.
Together, We Are Pharmacy.

Please consider becoming a member of United Pharmacy Association. If you work in retail pharmacy and desire change, please consider supporting #pizzaisnotworking. There is power in numbers. We have to BE the change. The time is NOW.

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