Angry customers, more work and longer hours are tiring pharmacists
But companies may have a harder time attracting and retaining employees who aren’t willing to take on the extra workload. Jon C. Schommer, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s College of Pharmacy, said wages were already stagnating before the pandemic because more pharmacy schools opened in response to a shortage of workers in the 2000s. 2020, the median annual salary for pharmacists was $128,710, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Although some chains offer financial incentives, a recent American Pharmacists Association survey found that 47% of respondents said they were working more hours during the pandemicwhile only 12 percent reported a pay rise.
Pharmacists and technicians said they were leaving retail pharmacies for jobs in hospitals or pharmaceutical companies, while some simply decided not to work for the time being.
People on social media expressed their concerns under the hashtag “PizzaIsNotWorking”. Bled Tanoe, 35, an Oklahoma City pharmacist who left Walgreens in August to work at a hospital, started the campaign to highlight the pressure pharmacists and technicians were feeling. She is now urging pharmacies to raise salaries and provide more support to staff.
Emily Sis-Sosa, a 26-year-old woman in Kernersville, North Carolina, said she could no longer work as a technician at a large retail chain after her workload swelled and some customers are angered during the pandemic. If prescriptions were delayed, some threw empty prescription bottles or insurance cards at her.
“I had never felt such rage from people I had known for six years,” she said.
Ms. Sis-Sosa said the work was not worth the $16.95 she earned per hour. She left in September to work for a drug distribution company.
Dallas Reynolds, 35, a pharmacist in Northern Virginia, said he’s felt increasingly exhausted during the pandemic. Even though he worked more hours to catch up, he said, the pharmacy was often two or three days behind on filling prescriptions. Since quitting in December, he says, he feels less anxious and depressed, though he wasn’t sure what he would do next for the job.