The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on pharmacists.
Chris Chiew, vice president of London Drugs Pharmacy and Healthcare Innovation, says the industry has been overhauled by the pandemic and the lack of new pharmacists is making it difficult for current pharmacists to keep up with the growing number of jobs they need to carry out.
“We don’t have more people, but we have more work. It’s nice to shovel things in our yard, but it takes people to do the work,” Auclair said.
“We have some people who have either retired early or are just… on vacation…” Chiew told Global News.
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Pharmacy Association Saskatchewan CEO Michael Fougere says Saskatoon isn’t seeing a big drop in pharmacists, but Regina is.
Fougere says exact statistics and figures on the extent of the shortage are not known.
“They may work longer, they may close earlier. I don’t think it compromises the quality or the type of service people receive. I haven’t heard from the public or from the pharmacists themselves,” Fougere said.
Fougere says that with fewer staff uptime has been impacted across the province.
“Fewer staff, fewer hours in pharmacies.”
According to Fougere, there are more than 1,200 pharmacies in the province, as well as pharmacists in other areas.
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Saskatoon has the College of Pharmaceutical at USask, which produces graduates every year. Yvonne Shevchuk, associate dean of USask College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, says they accommodate up to 90 students each year.
“We keep track of how many students we graduate each year, it’s in the high 80s. We didn’t have big swings or anything like that in terms of student shortages,” Shevchuk said.
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New pharmacists must pass their licensing exams before entering the workforce, and all foreign workers require Canadian pharmacy experience, which can last a year or two.
“There is still a waiting period for new graduates here. But it doesn’t solve the whole problem, meaning people have retired and switched to part-time jobs because they don’t want to work as much,” Chiew told Global News via Zoom.
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Shevchuk says there have been shortages of pharmacists in the past, so this is nothing new.
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https://globalnews.ca/news/8942901/saskatchewan-pharmacists-under-strain-says-corporate-vp/ Pharmacists under pressure in Saskatchewan, says Corporate VP – Saskatoon