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The Unseen Pandemic Impacting Healthcare Providers

The Unseen Pandemic Impacting Healthcare Providers

By Dr. McKenzie Grinalds, Dr. Jeff Huston, and Dr. Zachary Jenkins
Cedarville University School of Pharmacy

Pharmacist assisting a customer with a question about and over-the-counter productBurnout and work-related stress are not new issues in health care. But according to the September 2022 Journal of American Medicine, the COVID-19 pandemic has poured kerosene on that fire, leading health care professionals to work under increasingly difficult conditions. In particular, pharmacists were called upon to drive patient care during the pandemic, without changes to their typical job function. Economic forces and personnel shortages have further impacted care.

Such conditions have led to what many are calling the “Great Resignation.” In health care, this has manifested as an exodus of health care workers from frontline patient care roles. For example, according to Elsevier Health, 31% of physicians and nurses globally said they planned to leave their current role in the next two-to-three years.

Looking at respondents from the United States, that number is even higher — 47%. In 2021, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy reported that 16% of Ohio pharmacists reported planning to leave their career as a pharmacist altogether, while 40% of respondents indicated they were open to changing careers in the future. This is alarming, as many pharmacists already operate in health care deserts where options for patients are few.

Something must change, but what?

Cedarville University’s School of Pharmacy is committed to equipping student pharmacists for the demands of the workplace. This starts with seeing pharmacy as a calling, not just a career. Students are encouraged to negotiate for conditions and not just compensation at potential workplaces. They are prepared to be servant-leaders who seek to cultivate healthy work conditions. Students may even choose to obtain their Master of Business Administration (MBA) during the Doctor of Pharmacy program, which can help them pursue leadership roles where they can advocate for their employees.

The faculty equips its student pharmacists to serve in and lead the workforce while empowering them to help address the needs of the community. Throughout COVID-19, many gaps in the health care system were exposed in areas like primary care and preventative health services — especially for marginalized groups. Cedarville’s students and partners were equipped to meet these gaps. For example, students served as contact tracing volunteers, tested patients for COVID-19, screened patients for COVID-19 therapies and administered vaccines to the vulnerable.

Additionally, CedarCare Village Pharmacy, the teaching pharmacy of Cedarville University’s School of Pharmacy in the village of Cedarville, Ohio, led the way in treating COVID patients with REGEN-COV in the last quarter of 2021 and Paxlovid beginning in July 2022. CedarCare was one of only a handful of sites in Ohio to offer these therapeutics. In order to prescribe Paxlovid safely, CedarCare collaborated with Health-In-Motion Network to access the patients’ electronic health record in the community pharmacy setting. The work of Zachary Krauss, Dr. Martha Abraham, and Dr. Justin Coby with Health-In-Motion Network resulted in an article published in Pharmacy.

Pharmacists were among the casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic that brought to the forefront the difficult work conditions health care workers face. At Cedarville University School of Pharmacy, students, alumni and partners are empowered to adapt to the demands of the workplace and be servant-leaders to ensure optimal work conditions to meet diverse patient needs. The fire is not out yet, but there is a path forward to contain and eliminate the fuel.

By Dr. McKenzie Grinalds, Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice; Dr. Jeff Huston, Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice; and Dr. Zachary Jenkins, Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice, in the Cedarville University School of Pharmacy.

The Cedarville University School of Pharmacy is equipping its graduates with pharmacy excellence and Christlike compassion. A limited number of spaces remain open in the fall class, and generous scholarships are available. Interested students should complete the application process as soon as possible.

Posted in Pharmacy Pharmacy

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