There is a shortage of approximately 3,000 pharmacists in Quebec

(Montreal) All health sectors are facing a significant shortage of personnel, but this is a major problem in the pharmaceutical industry, whether in pharmacies or hospitals, says the president of the Order of Pharmacists of Quebec (OPQ).

In an interview with La Presse Canadienne on Friday, Jean-François Desgagné expressed his concerns regarding the shortage of pharmacy professions, but he was also optimistic.

Mr. Desgagné is, among other things, encouraged by the arrival this year of the first cohorts of pharmacy technicians. This new program was offered in ten CEGEPs across the province in fall 2021.

However, he does not deny that the situation is critical. According to the president of the OPQ, there is currently a shortage of at least one pharmacist per pharmacy in Quebec, and in small hospitals there is a shortage of approximately three, and in large hospitals, five to nine. “Roughly speaking, there is a shortage of 3,000 pharmacists in Quebec,” he summarizes.

“Pharmacists organize themselves, we are organizational beasts, but we must be aware that we cannot stretch an elastic band infinitely,” underlines Mr. Desgagné.

The results of the latest survey on the workforce of the Association of Pharmacists of Health Establishments of Quebec (APES) pointed in this direction. We observed that in emergencies, 62% of the need for pharmacists to provide pharmaceutical care is unmet, and around 15% in oncology, even though treatments are essential to the survival of certain patients.

In intensive and coronary care units, among hospitalized patients, 50% of the need for pharmacists to provide pharmaceutical care is not covered.

In renal dialysis, there are 13 pharmacists employed out of 73 required, which barely meets 18% of the needs while dialysis patients are particularly vulnerable to medications due to the reduced filtration capacity of the kidneys.

For these four sectors alone, we would need 235 additional pharmacists, the APES estimated in March.

“Workforce concerns are the major issue in the profession currently, as in many other professions. […] There isn’t a day that goes by without us talking about it in the media, but let’s say that in pharmacy, it’s the major concern,” declared Mr. Desgagné.

The Canadian Press’ health content receives funding through a partnership with the Canadian Medical Association. The Canadian Press is solely responsible for editorial choices.

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