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Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians reach their fever pitch

A busy flu season leads to walkouts, stress and workplace hardships
UMKC School of Pharmacy
Roo News
UMKC School of Pharmacy

  Working in a pharmacy comes with challenging tasks. These obstacles have been amplified by short staffing, lack of thorough training and tension from customers. 

  Flu season tends to be a particularly difficult time for technicians due to scheduling conflicts. 

  In a retail pharmacy where the pharmacist administers flu shots, every 15-minute vaccine appointment takes that pharmacist away from the production and service of medications and increases wait time for all functions of the pharmacy.

  “Pharmacists simply cannot be in two places at once, giving shots and still accomplishing their regular demanding workload,” said a former pharmacy tech, who wishes to remain anonymous.  

  The pharmacy technician says this tedious routine is just one of the many reasons why there has been an increase in walkouts at pharmacies. 

  When the overall workload piles up, duties can be pushed to other employees. The problem is that sometimes this goes beyond a pharmacy technician’s scope of experience. 

  “I was asked to do duties that went beyond what is legally permitted by my license, such as delivering critical information to patients that were supposed to be counseled by the pharmacist themselves,” the former technician said. 

  The workload problem stems from understaffing, which is currently impacting many pharmacies. 

  “A universal issue with pharmacies is the lack of pharmacists and technicians alike,” said Joseph Butler, a student at the UMKC School of Pharmacy and technician. “It has led to many becoming overburdened and overwhelmed.” 

  In addition to these issues, medication shortages are causing a problem of their very own. 

  “Practically every medication is in shortage, which makes life incredibly difficult,” Butler said. 

  Regardless of these adversities, Butler recognizes the positive and rewarding aspects of his job. Butler highlighted a smaller pharmacy, Pharmacy of Grace, that works to reduce prescription prices to zero or near-zero for underserved and lower-income patient populations. 

  The job also offers a multitude of skills and specialties that pharmacy students will find useful, and Butler believes the positive aspects outweigh the negative. 

  “There are numerous safeguards and the reward in that aspect far outpaces the cons,” said Butler. “My experience has been overall positive as a result.”

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