November 15, 2021

Butler University pharmacy college dean talks pharmacist shortage

Butler University pharmacy college dean talks pharmacist shortage

As the COVID-19 pandemic lingers, Indiana pharmacies face a shortage of pharmacists. As a result, some are cutting back hours or closing.

Butler University’s College of Pharmacy and Life Sciences Dean Bob Soltis said pharmacists do more than just fill prescriptions.

“They are the first line; they are one of the most accessible health care professionals out there and that a patient can go see a pharmacist without an appointment,” Soltis said. “They can get expert advice on medication therapy, the best ways to use their drugs or most economical way.”

During the pandemic, pharmacists have also taken on COVID testing and vaccinations. Like other segments of the healthcare industry, burnout has been an issue. Soltis said students understand a pharmacy career can be stressful, but believes they are dedicated.

“We meet with the students quite often, especially those in the last two years of the professional program talking about preparing for the profession,” Soltis said. “They're pretty motivated, they come in as first year students, and in the course of six years, they get a very good understanding of the profession.”

Like many businesses facing staff shortages, pharmacies are adding sign-on bonuses to attract potential employees. Soltis said the tactic may work, but pharmacists want more.

“The bonuses certainly help and I think what the students are looking for is really the conditions under which they work and less about the money,” Soltis said. “I think a lot of our pharmacists are sometimes looking for career changes that give them more time to work directly with patients.”

Soltis said the university adheres to accreditation mandates for its curriculum but updates class offerings based on the needs of the healthcare profession.

Contact WFYI All Things Considered newscaster and reporter Terri Dee at tdee@wfyi.org.

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