Pharmacist Retention

In Healthcare, Human Capital Trends on March 16, 2010 at 6:16 pm

By Brian Hudson – Originally Written 2007

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment of pharmacists is expected to grow by 22% between 2006 and 2016. Why is this employment increasing? As the population ages, the use of prescription drugs is constantly on the rise as well as the number of facilities such as mail order and home care organizations needed to house and provide to the elderly. It also seems as though a new retail facility is going up on every corner in the United States, further limiting the supply of quality licensed professionals for Hospital and healthcare organizations focused on patient care and revenue growth.

This shortage of pharmacists has led to an interesting dilemma for Directors and Human Resource professionals. The average length of stay for a pharmacist in a single organization, according to Dr. David A. Mott, is about 32 months. Dr. Mott states that the number one reason that most pharmacists are leaving their current organization is due to stress associated with understaffing or the wrong staff surrounding them. A pharmacist working in this environment feels underappreciated and overworked. To fill open positions, many facilities are utilizing temporary and PRN pharmacists to fill their openings. This may be a necessary “short term” fix but can have long term implications that will negatively affect the work environment. Having worked as a Pharmacy Tech for several years, I understand the negative fallout from a dysfunctional or understaffed pharmacy team.

Director and HR professionals should have a long term recruitment strategy that includes an investment in acquiring a full time professional who can be an “echo” of the organizations culture, core values, patient care and commitment to the community. The overuse of temp and PRN pharmacists inhibits the pharmacy from developing a strong team environment which ultimately will deliver the best patient care and retain your staff longer. There is no number one solution to retaining your pharmacists; there needs to be a holistic approach to attracting talent and ensuring that the pharmacy team understands that they are appreciated members of the organization.

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