Pharmacists in Newfoundland and Labrador feel overlooked in the province’s efforts to recruit and retain health care workers. According to the Provincial Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL), there is a shortage of about 100 full-time pharmacists in both hospitals and community care settings in rural and urban areas. PANL has made several recommendations to the government, including increasing the size of pharmacy school classes, streamlining the licensure process for internationally trained pharmacists, and negotiating fair contracts with public service unions representing pharmacists and allied health professionals.
The lack of resources and increasing workloads are putting a strain on pharmacists, leading to burnout and potential staff shortages. Kara O’Keefe, the only pharmacist on Bell Island, states that the workload for pharmacists is increasing, which raises concerns about burnout and the overall well-being of pharmacists. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the pressures on the healthcare system, with shortages in various healthcare professions, including physicians and registered nurses, adding to the challenges faced by pharmacists.
Pharmacists play a vital role in communities, often serving as the primary healthcare hub. However, pharmacists in rural areas find it difficult to find relief or locum support, putting additional stress on them and potentially compromising patient care.
The provincial government has acknowledged the need to address the healthcare worker shortage and is working with PANL to evaluate the demand for pharmacy seats at Memorial University’s school of pharmacy. The government has also awarded a contract to develop a provincial health human resources plan that includes a gap analysis of supply and demand for several health occupations, including pharmacists.
Incentives are being offered to prospective pharmacists, including bursaries and signing bonuses for difficult-to-fill positions. However, more comprehensive measures, such as increasing the size of pharmacy school classes and streamlining the licensure process, are necessary to address the current shortage of pharmacists in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: What is the shortage of pharmacists in Newfoundland and Labrador?
A: There is a shortage of approximately 100 full-time pharmacists in both hospitals and community care settings in rural and urban areas of the province.
Q: What recommendations has PANL made to the government?
A: PANL has recommended increasing the size of pharmacy school classes, streamlining the licensure process for internationally trained pharmacists, and negotiating fair contracts with public service unions representing pharmacists and allied health professionals.
Q: What challenges are pharmacists facing?
A: Pharmacists are experiencing increased workloads, burnout, and difficulty finding relief or locum support, particularly in rural areas.
Q: What incentives are available for prospective pharmacists?
A: Prospective pharmacists can receive bursaries and signing bonuses for difficult-to-fill positions.