Workload Perceptions of Pharmacists: Part of Changing a National Trend

Background: A National Pharmacist Workforce Survey (NPW) survey is being conducted in the US every five years. The 2009- NPW project surveyed 1,391 participants, of which only 12 participants were from West Virginia. Therefore, such a small representation of West Virginian pharmacists may question the validity of extrapolating the results of the 2009 NPW survey to pharmacists in this state. As a result, a separate survey was needed to answer the questions about the perceived workload, work characteristics, and demographics for West Virginian pharmacists.

Objectives: The primary objective of this investigation was to identify the pharmacists’ perceptions of workload in West Virginia and compare with the 2009 NPW survey.

Materials and Methods: A group of pharmacists in West Virginia were surveyed for the perceptions of current workload, the changes of workload over the past year, the impact of workload on personnel satisfaction, and the quality of providing pharmaceutical services. All licensed pharmacists in West Virginia as of 2011 (adjusted to the total of 1970 individuals) were contacted up to three times. Pharmacists’ perceptions were measured using several items adopted from the 2009-NPW survey.

Results: A total of 596 responses were received, yielding an adjusted response rate of 30%. The majority of West Virginia pharmacists believed that the current assigned workload was either high or excessively high. This perception follows the trend of the 2009 national manpower study that reported an increase of 14% (between 2004 and 2009) of pharmacists' workload indicating the above fact. Similarly, nearly 61% of pharmacists believed that the workload has either increased or greatly increased over the past year. West Virginia pharmacists were more concerned about their job security, than those were sampled in the 2009 national manpower study. The West Virginia pharmacists perceive their workload to negatively impact the time they spend with patients, the quality of care provided to patients, and their ability to resolve and prevent drug related problems. These negative points on the patient care perception are found to be more pronounced in the current study on the West Virginia pharmacists than it was reported previously in the 2009 national manpower study.

Conclusions: Although there does not seem to be a serious shortage of pharmacists in West Virginia at the present time, pharmacists reported that there are currently more patient care associated tasks need to be completed with the same amount of staffing levels.