Skip to main content

Symptomatic COVID-19 testing in pharmacy practice

a close up of a bottle

I recently took a poll to understand better how pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, pharmacy assistants, and front store staff feel about giving SYMPTOMATIC COVID-19 testing.

An overwhelming percentage of individuals did not want to participate in this service, and that is okay. This piece is not meant to persuade individuals to feel differently or convince anyone to participate or not participate in symptomatic COVID-19 testing. It is meant to shed light on the various sides of this topic.


chart, pie chart

To better understand the different views on this subject, I took a moment to speak to several individuals who felt comfortable, uncomfortable, or unsure about the topic. I also tried to speak to different staff members to see if that made a difference in their view. One of the critical areas of comment was capacity and labour. Interestingly, the individuals who commented they would feel comfortable offering this service came from locations with sufficient staffing. They currently offered other services and saw that taking on an additional service at their location came with a new hire or the removal or another service to create capacity.

Another area of comment I received was the reporting structure at these practices. Those who were more open to participating felt they were heard and respected at their practice. Pharmacy practice can be complex, and as owners/associates/people managers, we can forget that we have accountability and a responsibility to those who report to us. Performing a dual role of oversight and management and being consumed with day-to-day granular tasks can be difficult.

This survey highlighted that ensuring we hear our pharmacists and respect their concerns creates an environment of engagement. Some of the comments received were pre-service launch meetings, inquiring where and what areas of concern were. Clear sets of guidelines that allowed staff to feel comfortable and adopt new services came as a mutual agreement and with choice.

Regardless of the practice environment, there are still individuals who feel uncomfortable with symptomatic testing for patients. They may live with a vulnerable individual, feel it places them at higher risk, or have another personal reason. These individuals expressed how they felt, and it is essential to respect their perspectives and situations.

As the pharmacy manager, there are a few things you can do to support in these situations. Consider offering this service when those individuals are not scheduled to work to respect their feelings. If possible, you may want to section off the testing area at the complete opposite side of the location.

There are also mixed feelings from patients on this subject. Unlike pharmacy staff, patients are closer to a 50/50 split on where they stand. Again, this comes back to their situation. Are they or their loved ones more vulnerable to COVID-19? Do they work or require frequent testing? The patient’s situation plays an essential role in determining how they feel about symptomatic COVID-19 testing.

This survey was done on a small population of 143 participants with anecdotal opinions and research. However, what was found was that the majority were uncomfortable with symptomatic COVID-19 testing in the pharmacy. This survey did not delve into appropriate renumeration and other reimbursement issues which were mentioned by participants. These opinions highlight the need to ensure that staff and patients are respected when services are offered in the pharmacy. Clear guidelines and standards of operation need to be created and a safe and positive environment to practice is required. As with any practice or industry, the most valuable asset to your business is your employees and this is no different in pharmacy.

Pavithra Ravi MPharm RPh is the founder and CEO of Pavithra Consulting Inc.



This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds