Staffing shortages are affecting pharmacies across the country, including Arkansas. Arkansas Pharmacists Association plans on conducting the local survey.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in December 2019, Health care workers now provide more services than at any point during pre-covid. Pharmacists worldwide have played a critical role in developing innovative strategies to mitigate the pandemic’s adverse effects.
John Vinson, CEO of Arkansas Pharmacists Association, in an interview with KATV, said employers across the state are struggling to hire employees in hospitals, nursing homes, and community pharmacies. Vinson noted that during the pandemic, pharmacists provide additional services in addition to what they usually do.
A June 2021 survey of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) showed that 80 percent of independent community pharmacies in the U.S. are struggling with staffing shortages. According to the survey, 13 percent of community pharmacies have difficulties employing pharmacists. However, most reports state that their workforce needs are for other positions.
NCPA CEO Douglas Hoey said that the lack of staff is a major challenge in the pharmacy community, especially during a pandemic. He stressed that this is a severe concern for pharmacies around the country, which is operating at a total capacity.
Staffing Shortage in Arkansas’ Pharmacies
According to Vinson, Arkansas’ staffing shortage is approximately 50-60 percent. He stated that the issues in the state’s community pharmacies are not only limited to hiring pharmacists but also in hiring clerks and pharmacy technicians. Staffing shortages might result in reduced hours, extended wait times, and difficulty in accessing an employee over the phone.
Vinson cites the shortages to the pandemic’s extra stress, which has prompted some to pursue other jobs. Vaccines, testing, and COVID-19 treatments may also cause job strain for some employees, according to Vinson.
According to Vinson, the shortage of workers appears to affect larger chain pharmacies more than independent, locally-owned pharmacies. These include CVS and Walgreens, wherein both drug retailing companies released a statement regarding the staffing shortage.
Since the pandemic began, pharmacies have also experienced drug supply shortages. However, Vinson stated that the situation has improved, with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reporting a shortage of 108 over 153 drugs.
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