Leading Pharmacy Organizations Assert Pharmacists’ Fundamental Workplace Responsibilities and Rights 

 WASHINGTON, DC — The boards of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) and the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA) have released principles that outline the fundamental responsibilities and rights of pharmacists in workplace settings, to enable pharmacists to fulfill their professional responsibilities while serving their patients.

Pharmacist’s Fundamental Responsibilities and Rights states that pharmacists have fundamental responsibilities, built on principles embodied by the Oath of a Pharmacist, and the Pharmacist Code of Ethics:

  • To practice with honesty and integrity
  • To seek employment that aligns with their professional goals and personal values and needs
  • To be lifelong learners to maintain professional competency and engage in the profession
  • To educate their patients and the public to enhance public health
  • To make decisions and seek resolutions regarding workplace concerns without fear of intimidation or retaliation from their employer or supervisors

To fulfill these responsibilities, the document asserts that pharmacists have the following fundamental rights:

  • To practice pharmacy in the best interest of patient and community health and well-being.
  • To exercise professional judgment under the auspices of their license when delivering care to patients.
  • To be treated in a considerate, respectful, and professional manner by patients and supported by employers and supervisors.
  • To a workplace free of racism, discrimination, bullying, or harassment, as well as physical, verbal, or emotional abuse.
  • To a working environment where the necessary resources are allocated to provide both legally required patient care services, as well as any additional enhanced patient care services offered.
  • To reasonable working hours and conditions.
  • To have a voice in the development of metrics, and how those metrics are used as criteria for performance evaluations of all pharmacy staff.

A draft of the document was released for public comment in March 2021. Following two public meetings to collect feedback, a task force chaired by former APhA President Nancy Alvarez finalized the principles, which were approved by the APhA and NASPA boards in June 2021. They align closely with recommendations developed during a consensus conference in July 2019 among a diverse group of pharmacy profession stakeholders on pharmacist well-being and resilience.

The principles document is a product of the pharmacy profession’s ongoing efforts to address the well-being of pharmacists and pharmacy personnel. The Well-Being Index for Pharmacy Personnel, a self-assessment tool invented by the Mayo Clinic and offered by APhA starting in 2019, finds that nearly 33% of those who used the tool are at risk for high distress (as of June 2021). Researchers from Mayo Clinic have found that pharmacists who are at a high risk for distress also have a:

  • 3-fold higher risk of low quality of life
  • 8-fold higher risk of burnout
  • 2.5-fold higher risk of high fatigue
  • 2.5-fold higher risk of intent to leave their current job
  • 2-fold higher risk of medication error

“There is a direct relationship between workplace conditions and the ability of pharmacists to safely and effectively serve their patients,“ said Sandra Leal, PharmD, MPH, APhA President. “Responsibilities and rights do not exist in a vacuum without the other.”

Dr. Leal said, “We believe these principles should facilitate meaningful dialogue and action among pharmacists, pharmacy personnel, and pharmacy employers to enhance the pharmacy workplace and patient safety.”

“The Fundamentals document is the result of a lot of meaningful work by the committees and important feedback from pharmacists and pharmacy staff from across the country,” said Rebecca P. Snead, RPh, CAE, FAPhA, executive vice president and CEO of NASPA. “Our profession cannot care for patients if our wellbeing is in jeopardy. We hope that the Fundamentals document will serve as an important road map for improvement in the workplace and enhanced patient safety.”

About the American Pharmacists Association
The American Pharmacists Association is the largest association of pharmacists in the United States advancing the entire pharmacy profession. Our expert staff, and strong volunteer leadership, including many experienced pharmacists, allow us to deliver vital leadership to help pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists and pharmacy technicians find success and satisfaction in their work, while advocating for changes that benefit them, their patients, and their communities. For more information, please visit www.pharmacist.com.

About the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations
The National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, founded in 1927 as the National Council of State Pharmacy Association Executives, is dedicated to enhancing the success of state pharmacy associations in their efforts to advance the profession of pharmacy. NASPA’s membership is comprised of state pharmacy associations and over 70 other stakeholder organizations. NASPA promotes leadership, sharing, learning, and policy exchange among its members and pharmacy leaders nationwide. For more information, visit naspa.us