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Who's looking after the pharmacists?

Pharmacists have given their all to help battle this pandemic. Yet who's looking out for their safety when they feel at risk in their work environment?

I have been a proponent of expanded scope for pharmacists for a long time.

I previously served on the board of directors at the Ontario Pharmacists’ Association (OPA) when we successfully advocated for pharmacist-delivered influenza vaccinations.

Having said that, with the Covid pandemic and further expansion of scope, many pharmacists are having difficulty managing the work flow without adequate resources. 

Read: How well do we protect pharmacy workers from harassment, intimidation and violence?

Many pharmacists have no control over their work environment, including the amount of resources allocated to the pharmacy or the volume of work required. 

It is not uncommon for a pharmacist with an N95 mask and face shield on, and with a needle in their hand on their way to delivering a vaccine, to be approached by someone just walking up to demand their immediate assistance. Try that in a doctor's office.

Work environment is still retail-focused

Pharmacists’ training and scope have evolved, but the work environment might as well be from the previous century. 

Add to that the increased health risk to pharmacy workers who deliver services in close quarters to patients during a pandemic, and you have a recipe for the potential breakdown of the service model in pharmacy. Not to mention the human casualties along the way.

While the associations that advocate for expansion of scope maintain there is choice in what services a pharmacy can offer, that is not true for the individuals who work at that particular pharmacy. 

Not unless you consider losing your job a viable choice.

Read: Stop politicizing the pandemic!

The media recently highlighted a pharmacist who quit his job because he maintained that the organization for whom he worked was forcing staff to perform symptomatic Covid testing against their protests. (Read Why a Shoppers  pharmacist quit over the issue of symptomatic COVID-19 testing)

Pharmacy staff have stepped up to the challenges presented by the pandemic to serve their patients. It's time that the organizations they work for, the associations that purport to represent them, and the pharmacy regulatory bodies further support them in that endeavor. 

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