Navigating Pharmacy Staffing Challenges: Strategies for Success

Like other areas of healthcare, the pharmacy industry is not immune to difficulty filling key roles and retaining talent. Low salaries, heavy workloads, and inadequate staffing are the main drivers of attrition in the pharmacy industry, which has created a staffing crisis with dire consequences concerning patient care, efficiency, and workforce morale. To counterbalance this crisis, decision-makers in the pharmacy industry must devise new strategies for success if they wish to realize a sustainable operating model.

The Operational Impact of Pharmacy Staffing Challenges

The principal players in any pharmacy are pharmacy technicians and pharmacists. For optimal efficiency, quality of service, and patient safety, a pharmacy should have a certain number of technicians for every pharmacist, though a little more than half of all U.S. states require a minimum pharmacist-to-technician ratio to ensure such standards. The rest have no quantitative staffing standards whatsoever.1 Even in regulated states, many pharmacies are experiencing staffing shortages, giving rise to the following circumstances.

Longer Customer Wait Times

When there aren’t enough people to do the job, the job takes longer. Stories from pharmacies around the country illustrate how this has played out. At a Boston pharmacy, for example, patients have found themselves waiting in queues for upward of an hour only to be told their prescriptions still weren’t ready.2 In Phoenix, customers have waited 45 minutes or longer for medications that normally take five to 10 minutes to fill.3

Prescription and Vaccination Errors

Prescription and vaccination errors are exacerbated as pressures surrounding the job do no favors in detail-oriented roles such as those within a pharmacy. People need the time to check and double-check customers’ orders so that they receive the right medications, but workforce shortages have created stressful conditions that obstruct the careful administration of duties.

Decreased Customer Satisfaction

At one time, the pharmacy represented possibly the most expedient and even perfunctory segment of the healthcare ecosystem. Now many people are spending more time in the pharmacy queue than the physician’s waiting room. The combination of long wait times and potentially dangerous prescription errors have left customers understandably frustrated.

Increased Operational Costs

The ASHP surveys show that 97% of the responding administrators have taken to using overtime to compensate for workforce shortages.4 Because overtime pay equals time-and-a-half, that means pharmacies are paying more to achieve as much or even less productivity than a complete workforce. 

Strategic Pharmacy Staffing for Success

Strategic staffing is an approach to human resources that ensures an organization has the optimal number and mix of permanent and temporary workers to fulfill present and future business needs. Broadly speaking, it encompasses at least six key elements:

  • Strategic alignment: The practice of shaping the workforce around one’s short- and long-term goals
  • Employer branding: Establishing an environment that attracts and retains great talent
  • Human resource intelligence: Identifying candidates who align with the organization
  • Development: Creating opportunities for advancement for existing staff
  • Capacity planning: Forecasting potential needs to plan for the roles, skills, and other factors that future developments may require
  • Schedule optimization: Allocating the right number of people at the right times to maximize productivity and satisfy individuals’ expectations

Strategic staffing gives your pharmacy the flexibility it needs to scale up or down as circumstances demand. It also functions as a cost-saving measure. Lower-cost temporary staff have fewer fixed expenses, benefits costs, and operational inefficiencies. 

Medix’s Comprehensive Pharmacy Staffing Solutions

Strategic staffing requires significant analysis and preparation, which understaffed pharmacies don’t have the time or resources to conduct. The solution, then, is to outsource the effort to an expert in allied recruiting and staffing, such as Medix. With more than two decades’ worth of industry experience, Medix has cultivated an extensive pool of talent and a strong reputation for excellence, both of which can serve you well in your pharmacy talent acquisition.

A partnership with Medix gives you the flexibility to fill out your workforce with contract, contract-to-hire, and permanent placements with minimal effort. Such a labor mix enables you to anchor your staff with long-term candidates and respond to shifts in demand as needed. Ramp up your contingent staff to take pressure off your permanent teammates, or ramp down when circumstances allow. 

How Medix Benefits Pharmacies

Strategic staffing through a Medix partnership not only improves your staff’s ability to respond to shifting needs, but also provides your organization with the following key benefits:

  • Staff fulfillment: With Medix as your pharmacy recruiting partner, you gain access to a talent pool of over 3 million qualified candidates. Based on your needs, we identify, vet, and onboard recruits on your behalf.
  • Specialized talent: The Medix talent pool includes licensed pharmacists and certified technicians, allowing you to populate your staff with qualified professionals.
  • Reduced staffing costs: With Medix, you can focus your talent search on lower-cost local talent as well as contract and contract-to-hire candidates for your contingent workforce.
  • Improved retention: Our MyPrint soft skills assessment tool helps us identify candidates whose qualities align with your organizational culture. 

Build a Flexible, Responsive Pharmacy Workforce With Medix

Diversifying your pharmacy staff with a balanced labor mix is the cost-effective key to satisfying the expectations of both your customers and your current workforce. Partner with Medix so you can enjoy the advantages of strategic staffing without shouldering the recruiting and administrative burden. Reach out to Medix today to learn more.

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(1). “Pharmacy Technician Regulation.” (2016). Pharmacy Times.

(2). Niezgoda, Abbey. “Pharmacist Shortage Causing Long Waits at Drug Stores Across Mass.” NBC 10 Boston.

(3). Ragas, Lindsey. “Are You Seeing Long Wait Times at Your Pharmacy? Here Are the Possible Reasons, According to a Pharmacist.” (2023). Fox 10 Phoenix

(4). “Pharmacy Technician Shortage Survey Findings: Executive Summary.” (2022). American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.