Resilience is a lifelong skill that can improve adaptability to many situations, especially in the workplace. According to Merriam-Webster, resilience is “the ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change”.1 The pharmacy environment, constantly evolving with new treatment regimens, updated laws, and more patient-centric practice recommendations, is a place where improved resiliency can come in handy. Especially when faced with uncertain times during a pandemic, resilience helps pharmacy personnel cope with mounting pressures and demands that come from stressed patients, tense supervisors, nervous patients, and precarious supply chain balances.
Austin and Gregory examined the resilience of pharmacists during the COVID-19 pandemic.2 They found that pharmacists demonstrated practice resilience during the pandemic if several factors were in play, such as comfort with technology use, early adoption of corporate/professional guidance, and a workplace that focuses on effectiveness of singular tasks rather than on multitasking. The study demonstrated that companies who had previously invested in technology to help with prescription filling or with communication were better able to manage the influx in prescription volume at the beginning of the pandemic. Pharmacists who were comfortable with the technology reported feeling as if they had a better grasp of the workflow and were better able to triage patients based on priority and need. Having a system already in place to handle potential increases in workload proved helping in adapting to new situations.
Additionally, having clear corporate/professional guidance was key to pharmacy personnel navigating new situations. The beginning of the pandemic was witness to a deluge of information that may not have been practical for implementation in real time. Having clear guidance from a central source helped pharmacists understand how to approach workplace situations and how to inform and communicate with patients.
Workplaces that focus on work quality also helped pharmacists feel more in control over their work and in navigating increased workloads. Scheduled breaks create a supportive cultural environment that helps workers take time to decompress from pandemic-related stressors. Moreover, supplying pharmacists with PPE and other pandemic-related supplies allowed workers to perform their jobs more effectively.
Overall, the study demonstrated that pharmacy managers and organizations can help pharmacy personnel in their resilience. Pharmacy managers can help support their pharmacists become more responsive at any time, especially during unprecedented and precarious moments. Creating a supportive environment where pharmacists are more in control of their work environment with the tools they need is paramount to ensuring that the team can maintain their resilience and continue to provide great patient care. Resilience, like so many other skills, is not merely something we are born with; rather, it is something learned and also that which we can all help one another in reinforcing.
Additional information about Human Resources Management Functions can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e.
1Resilience. (n.d.). Retrieved February 21, 2021, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/resilience
2Austin Z, Gregory P. Resilience in the time of pandemic: The experience of community pharmacists during Covid-19. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2021;17(1):1867-1875.
Leslie Wu, PharmD Candidate, Touro University California College of Pharmacy
Shane Desselle, RPh, PhD, FAPhA, Professor of Social and Behavioral Pharmacy, Touro University California College of Pharmacy