How to avoid pharmacy burnout


Don’t ignore signs of pharmacist burnout


  • Being a pharmacist and owning a pharmacy are hard, and many pharmacists experience burnout
  • When you are burned out, it is bad for patients, who can sense burnout
  • A new screening tool can assess your well-being and provide tips to improve your life
  • Changing your daily habits and daily pharmacy operations can change your life

Pharmacist burnout

You may think you hide your stress well, but it shows. Many customers say they know when healthcare providers are tired, rushed and burned out. Customers are aware when pharmacists are:1

  • Emotionally exhausted
  • Detached from work
  • Feeling little sense of accomplishment

Patients can sense burnout2

  • 25% of U.S. adults surveyed say retail pharmacists experience clinical burnout
  • 47% avoid asking questions if they think a healthcare professional is suffering burnout
  • 60% say they can tell when healthcare providers are tired
  • 56% say they know when the providers are rushed
  • 91% say it’s important that pharmacists and other providers take steps to avoid burnout
  • 77% say when they see a clinician who seems burned out, they worry about their own care and safety

Burnout affects patient care: Nearly half of patients will avoid asking a question if they think a pharmacist is burned out. More than three quarters worry about their own care if a clinician is burned out.

It’s no wonder many pharmacists are feeling burned out. In the 2014 National Pharmacist Workforce Study3, 45% of pharmacists said their work was negatively affecting their mental and emotional health — and the job of a pharmacist isn’t easier or less stressful today than it was then.4

Just hearing the three letters D-I-R probably causes you stress. Low reimbursements and higher demands are affecting the entire industry. Overwhelming stress and burnout can affect your health. It can:5

  • Impair brain function
  • Hurt relationships and morale at work
  • Hamper relationships outside of work

Screen yourself

Think you’re OK? Here’s a way to check. A Well-Being Index for Pharmacists invented by Mayo Clinic and offered by the American Pharmacists Association can assess how you are doing. It’s 100% anonymous, takes only about five minutes, and you can track your progress over time.


Take the wellness survey >>

The Well-Being Index checks for:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Burnout
  • Anxiety/stress
  • Mental and physical quality of life

Answer the Index’s questions and then receive an individualized report that compares your results with other pharmacists and healthcare professionals. You can set a reminder to recheck your well-being in 1, 3, 6 or 12 months, and track your well-being over time.

Additional resources from APhA

Along with the Well-Being Index, the American Pharmacists Association provides resources to help pharmacists make positive changes. Resources range from podcasts to checklists, on topics from suicide ideation to finance.

Taking care of yourself

You already know much of what you should be doing, because it is what you advise your patients each day: eat healthy meals, get enough sleep and exercise consistently.

As pharmacist and pharmacy owner, there is even more to think about and more you can do:

    • Reflect on your purpose. Regularly reflect on the difference you make in the lives of others. Savor success. Track and celebrate results, such as patients with diabetes who reach A1C goals. Reflecting on the difference you make reminds you why you chose this profession and why you opened your pharmacy. Reviewing patients’ programs is good for your satisfaction and for staff morale. Collect and keep a file of compliments from customers and glance at it on hard days. Reminding yourself of your purpose helps keep you grounded and motivated.
    • Foster relationships. Isolation can be difficult and lonely. Go to lunch with a mentor, colleague or friend. Schedule a weekly dinner with a family member at a set time to ensure you don’t linger at work. Take up a hobby.
    • Bust out of the rut. If you are burning out, your current routine isn’t working. You need to change your habits and routines. Network with other pharmacy owners and ask to shadow them for a day to see what works in their store. Track how you spend your time for a week and identify possible changes. For example, train a high-performing employee to take on some of your responsibility — just ensure that by shifting the workload you aren’t shifting the burnout.

Provide support. If you are feeling stress and burnout, your staff might be, too. Invest in things to ease the burden you and your staff feel, whether it’s training, new technology or equipment to improve efficiency, or hiring another staff member. You might also consider hiring someone to help with cleaning your house or taking care of your gardening to remove a personal stressor.

Looking for a good read? Check out The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, a book describing one person’s year-long attempt to discover what leads to true contentment.

You may not realize it, but your patients care about you and your well-being. More than 90% say healthcare providers should do whatever they can to avoid burnout.

Now it’s up to you to take care of yourself, so you avoid personal burnout and can better take care of your patients.

A simple solution to avoid burnout

As an independent pharmacy, you face market challenges that significantly affect your ability to compete and grow. Health Mart® understands these challenges. We work to give independent pharmacies the collective strength to overcome challenges and win in today’s marketplace.

Contact us today to learn more.

1Customers, Patients Are Aware That Many Pharmacists Struggle with Burnout,” U.S. Pharmacist, June 26, 2019.
2Customers, Patients Are Aware That Many Pharmacists Struggle with Burnout,” U.S. Pharmacist, June 26, 2019.
32014 National Pharmacist Workforce Study,” Midwest Pharmacy Workforce Research Consortium, April 8, 2015.
4Pharmacists and Burnout: The First Step Is to Acknowledge the Data about Providers,” Alex Barker, Pharmacy Times, Dec. 5, 2018.
5The Science Behind Pharmacist Burnout Is Scary: Here Is What to Do About It,” Alex Barker, Pharmacy Times, Jan. 25, 2018.