Pharmacy Human Resource Challenges
Is there a Pharmacist Shortage?
Bonnie Salsman and Steve Long
24,500 licensed pharmacists; 80% work in retail pharmacies, 15%
in hospitals, and 5% in other fields. Faculties of Pharmacy graduate
800 students per year. The survey results from the 1999/2000 Hospital
Pharmacy in Canada Annual Report were presented including data
from the special interest section on Human Resources. The survey
results indicated a 10% vacancy rate for pharmacists but no significant
vacancies in support positions such as pharmacy technicians and
clerical staff. Pharmacist vacancies took an average of 4 months
to fill. Some respondents experienced an impact on service due
to staff shortages. A further consideration is that many pharmacists
are eligible to retire in the next five years.
shortages, very few departments have retention and recruitment
strategies. These strategies could include staff satisfaction
surveys, education and training opportunities, career ladders,
top of scale bonuses, flexible work hours, signing bonuses, and
recruitment fees. With the July 1, 2001 enactment of the Mutual
Recognition clause, licensees from nine provinces will be able
to practice pharmacy in other provinces. This will provide additional
recruitment opportunities for hospitals.
there was a trend towards an increase in pharmacist positions,
but the proportion of time spent in distribution, direct patient
care, and teaching/research remained unchanged. In addition, the
ratio of pharmacists to technicians remained at approximately
1:1. There is an opportunity to improve on the use of technicians
both to ensure that they consistently perform their traditional
roles in all practice settings and to move forward with other
responsibilities such as technician checking of technician work.
This delegation of work needs to be accompanied with appropriate
technician training and certification programs to ensure quality
and manage risk.
and technicians perform the majority of order entry and there
has been no significant progress to clinician order entry in Canada
or the USA (less than 10% of sites). Strong physician involvement
in the process is required for success as well as large numbers
of input devices in patient care areas.
needs to be an increase in the number of automated dispensing
systems. Only a third of hospitals had automation support and
the majority of these were centralized systems.