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COVID-19 pandemic creates shortage in pharmacists

Pace, demand for vaccine shots created huge demand
Posted at 5:26 PM, Dec 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-06 18:17:15-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The COVID-19 pandemic has created many shortages. Now, it appears you can count pharmacists in that group.

The impact is being felt in a number of ways.

The demand for pharmacists is being felt at Palm Beach Atlantic University's pharmacy school as the industry struggles with new demands and even burnout.

Pharmacist Frank Kacou of Progress Pharmacy in West Palm Beach said the changes have come fast for pharmacists, and it's because of COVID-19.

Pharmacist Frank Kacou
Pharmacist Frank Kacou speaks about the increased demand for pharmacists since the pandemic began.

"Vaccination is the No. 1 job function we are seeing," Kacou said.

The pace and demand for vaccine shots he says have created a huge demand for pharmacists, especially among the national chains.

"Pharmacists out there are just behind the counter verifying the prescription, and now your adding metrics which are vaccines or testing, and a lot of them are just having a hard time just managing through it," Kacou said.

CVS is announcing they are boosting pay, hoping to hire 20,000 employees. Walgreens is also boosting pay and offering bonuses for pharmacists certified to give vaccine shots.

"It looks like pharmacists are leaving the big chains or transferring from one chain to the other," Kacou said.

Dr. Jay Jackson teaches pharmacy students in West Palm Beach.

Dr. Jay Jackson, assistant dean of students at Gregory School of Pharmacy at Palm Beach Atlantic University
Dr. Jay Jackson discusses the rise in jobs in the field of pharmacy.

"As part of my role as the assistant dean of students here at Palm Beach Atlantic University's Gregory School of Pharmacy, I get to be part of the team that connects students and graduates with job opportunities, and yeah, there's been so many opportunities as of late," Jackson said.

Opportunities are coming as demand rises to have pharmacists do more. It has led to a lot of turnover and an effort to educate new pharmacists.

"You can't escape hard work, and I try to tell students there is an incentive behind it," Jackson said. "That’s always a challenge when you're asked to do more but given less, and so not just the structure will have to change, but there's an increased demand for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians and support staff as well."

The pharmacy school at Palm Beach Atlantic University currently has 53 students on track to graduate in spring and jump right into jobs.