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Home  »   Member VoiceLatest News   »   My experience of working in community pharmacy

My experience of working in community pharmacy

In our latest member voice article, a PDA member discusses their experience working in community pharmacy and why the culture needs to be challenged within some organisations.

Mon 15th May 2023 The PDA

As a member of the PDA, I decided to write this Member Voice to share my experience in community pharmacy with a well-known pharmacy chain.

I had worked at my pharmacy employer for nearly four years, and I would like to think I was a well-respected and competent pharmacist manager who did well during my employment. However, the role came with numerous trials and tribulations as well as having an impact on my health and wellbeing.

Particularly since the Covid-19 pandemic, working in community pharmacy has become even more stressful and difficult. Staffing resources fluctuate resulting in increased work pressure. As seems to be the case with many community pharmacy chains, the organisation I worked for was impacted by continual change in terms of structure, leadership, and management which can impact on the day to day running of the pharmacy and the working life of the pharmacy teams, which ultimately has an impact on patient care. I felt I wasn’t receiving the support or understanding that was needed and this had a massive impact on my branch and patients as it became difficult to keep up with the workload.

As a pharmacist manager, I had foreseen the issues many months before and had asked for the appropriate support on numerous occasions. Throughout this, I was in constant dialogue with the PDA and they had advised me accordingly, eventually locum and relief resources were made available.

After a challenging meeting with management, I made the decision to move to a different store hoping things would be better. It was a difficult choice as I worked with great staff, surgery rapport was second to none and I would be leaving the wonderful patients I had built relationships with. In difficult situations at work I would counsel that you always contact the PDA Member Support Centre for early advice and support, and especially before you make any decision which could impact on your future career and/or a potential case outcome.

The situation at my place of work ultimately led to me resigning, my resignation period was a traumatic experience for me. Despite me asking for support on numerous occasions the working conditions continued to have a negative impact on my health and wellbeing.

I feel the culture catered towards maximising profits over patient care by virtue of minimal staffing levels and poor working conditions, coupled with micromanaging pharmacists and pharmacy professionals to improve target thresholds.

The company passionately talked about the culture within the organisation, however I found myself feeling less valued and unappreciated. I had lost myself as a person and the reason I became a pharmacist, which was to help patients and deliver excellent care and service. I made the decision to leave the company to find myself again and to improve my health and wellbeing and to get away from this way of working, which is unsustainable.

My intention for this article is to make other pharmacists aware of the culture that exists in some community pharmacies and encourage pharmacists to reach out for support when they find themselves in a similar situation.

I was very fortunate that I was able to reach out to the PDA, they were extremely helpful in providing me excellent advice. Their help is invaluable, and they are here to protect us as pharmacists.

As a profession, pharmacists need to find ways to collectively challenge damaging work culture for our own health and wellbeing, and for the sake of our patients, that starts with joining your union and getting involved.

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