Hospitals face severe pharmacy technician shortage, surveys show

Pharmacy technicians are in short supply at hospitals and health systems, with nearly 1 in 10 organizations reporting they had lost at least 41 percent of these workers, according to new American Society of Health System Pharmacists surveys released March 15.

The society, which has more than 60,000 members, including pharmacists, student pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, examined the needs and realities of pharmacy technicians via two surveys conducted in November. One survey was sent to 1,952 hospital and health system pharmacy administrators. A separate one was completed by more than 5,000 pharmacy technicians from ASHP and Pharmacy Technician Certification Board databases.

Eight other findings from the surveys:

1.  A majority of pharmacy administrators reported turnover rates of at least 21 percent in 2021.

2. Nearly all pharmacy administrators reported that they had increased the use of overtime to address the shortage.

3. Nearly 9 out of 10 pharmacy administrators said they asked pharmacists to perform tasks usually performed by pharmacy technicians.

4. Three-quarters of pharmacy administrators reported that they had offered base pay increases in the previous 11 months for pharmacy technicians, and the majority also offered off-cycle pay raises as well as other incentives to attract and retain these workers.

5. Although 54 percent of pharmacy technicians cited their desire to help patients as a motivation to stay at their job, they still reported concerns about heavy workloads, inadequate staffing and inadequate compensation. 

6. Three-quarters of pharmacy technicians said a pay increase would help retain technicians.

7. Nearly one-third of pharmacy technicians said they want employers to offer retention bonuses.

8. Twenty-five percent of pharmacy technicians said they desire clear paths to promotion.

"The survey highlights the reality that hospital pay scales, which are based on wage grade systems, fail to reflect pharmacy technicians' commitment to their role, their vital place on the team and the complexity of their jobs," Stan Kent, chief pharmacy officer at Ann Arbor-based University of Michigan Health and an ASHP past president, said in a March 15 news release. "Technicians are essential contributors to the team, and the skills they develop on the job and through specialized training should be reflected in their pay if we want to retain them and continue to benefit from their skills and experience."

Read more about the surveys here.

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