AACP Supports Improvements to Community Pharmacy Working Conditions

pharmacist in a medical store

Every day, pharmacists help people live their healthiest lives. Whether it’s giving vaccinations, managing a patient’s medications, or consulting with health care professionals, pharmacists are on the front lines of patient health care. 

AACP supports all pharmacists in their demands for safe and efficient working conditions in our nation’s community pharmacy settings. Having adequate staffing (both professional and supportive) helps to ensure an environment that places patient safety as the ultimate metric for quality healthcare delivery in pharmacies. Without these improvements, patient access to pharmacists will be reduced, the training of student pharmacists will suffer and future pharmacist recruitment will continue to decline, all potentially having direct negative impacts on the health of the workforce, and ultimately, the health of those served.

The demand for pharmacists’ services is high, and as a result, community pharmacists and other health care professionals are working in stressful environments.

  • Vaccinations, test to treat programs, medication therapy management and more has resulted in a high demand for community pharmacy services, while the supply of pharmacists has remained low.
  • The pandemic underscored the important role pharmacists play in public health. More than 90% of COVID-19 vaccinations (300 million) were delivered at pharmacies across the country. Many pharmacies never closed and worked around the clock to provide care for patients. The pharmacy profession is now feeling the repercussions of fatigue and burnout like all other health care team members. 

Community pharmacies should be a safe place to train and practice.

  • Many of the more than 60,000 student pharmacists at our nation’s 142 colleges and schools of pharmacy participate in valuable experiential rotations at community pharmacies. They cannot learn the necessary skills required for future practice in high-stress, unsafe work environments.
  • AACP is working closely with community pharmacy employers, particularly corporate community pharmacy organizations, to help them identify and implement transformative improvements that will address workplace conditions and strengthen the role of pharmacists. We are confident that employers are committed to making those critical changes.

“Current and prospective pharmacy students are the future of our profession and deserve safe, high-quality rotation and practice sites in order to deliver patient-centered care,” said Craig Cox, Pharm.D., AACP President and Professor of Pharmacy Practice and Vice Chair for Experiential Programs at Texas Tech University Health Science Center Jerry H. Hodge School of Pharmacy. “Our profession is facing many challenges, but we also have many opportunities to work with our stakeholders to achieve our goal of transforming pharmacy practice.”

If workplace conditions do not improve, future pharmacy student recruitment could be impacted.

  • Many community pharmacists are discouraging people from pursuing a career in pharmacy. This negatively impacts pharmacy schools’ ability to attract and recruit prospective students, creating a massive shortfall of candidates and the potential for a future shortage of pharmacists. Employers must make the necessary improvements if we want to encourage more people to see pharmacy as a rewarding career.

Despite these challenges, a professional pharmacy degree is one of the most versatile of all the health care professional degrees.

  • More than half of pharmacy graduates practice in settings other than community pharmacy, including hospitals, research labs, informatics, ambulatory care, critical care units and more.

"Pharmacists continue to bring tremendous value to their patients and their communities despite increased workloads and a lack of provider status in many states,” said Anandi Law, Ph.D., M.S., FAPhA, AACP President-Elect and Professor and Associate Dean for Assessment at Western University of Health Sciences College of Pharmacy. “As the demand for health care access has grown, pharmacists have stepped in and stepped up to provide increasingly more, and necessary, patient care services.”