December 9, 2023

Healthcare Global

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Saskatchewan pharmacists under strain says corporate VP – Saskatoon

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on pharmacists.

London Drugs Pharmacy and Healthcare Innovation vice president Chris Chiew says the industry has been overworked through the pandemic and the lack of new pharmacists is making it difficult for present pharmacists to keep up with the increasing number of tasks they have to perform.

“We don’t have more people, but we do have more work. It’s nice to shovel things in our yard, but it takes people to do the work,” said Auclair.

“We do have some people who either took early retirement or right now…are taking a vacation…,” Chiew told Global News.

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Pharmacy Association Saskatchewan CEO Michael Fougere says Saskatoon isn’t seeing a huge drop in pharmacists, but Regina is.

Fougere says exact stats and numbers about the extent of the shortage are not known.

“They may be working longer hours, they may close earlier. I don’t think there is anything affected in terms of the quality or the type of service people received. I haven’t heard anything from the public or pharmacists themselves,”  Fougere said.

Fougere says with less staff, hours of operation have been impacted across the province.

“Less staff, fewer hours at pharmacies.”

Fougere says the province has roughly 1,200 plus pharmacies, as well as pharmacists in other settings.

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Saskatoon has the college of pharmacy at USask that produces graduates each year. USask college of pharmacy and nutrition associate dean academic Yvonne Shevchuk says they have space for up to 90 students each year.

“We keep track of how many students we graduate each year, it’s in the high 80s. We have not had any high fluctuations or anything like that in terms of lack of students,” said Shevchuk.

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New pharmacists have to pass their license exams before getting into the workforce, and any foreign workers need Canadian pharmacy experience, which can take a year or two.

“There is still a gap here of waiting for new grads. But it doesn’t solve the whole issue, which is people have retired and switched to part-time jobs because they don’t want to work as much,” Chiew told Global News over Zoom.

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Shevchuk says pharmacists shortages have happened in the past, so this is nothing new.

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