Overcoming a feeling of isolation among pharmacists

Dr Aarti Patel, General Manager of the Canterbury Community Pharmacy Group (CCPG), wants to remind pharmacists and their staff, that they don’t have to feel alone.

“This is a journey that pharmacy teams can’t take on individually. There’s a lot of benefit in peer support and community,” she says.

“Pharmacy teams have borne a lot of the brunt of the COVID-19 public announcements in the past years. As soon as there’s a change or an announcement, the public contact their pharmacist, whether that’s for masks, vaccines or, in this past week, RAT tests.

“The biggest issue facing pharmacists is time. When the phone rings, it’s the provider taking the call. When the door opens, there’s no hiding from people who may be feeling upset or anxious. It’s the staff, dispensary and retail, and the pharmacist who are experiencing the abuse.

“We’re starting to see pharmacists leave the workforce because they’re not feeling safe and supported.

“In the past we’ve funded peer support networks. We paid for kai and the groups came together to kotahitanga and connect and support each other. These have, unfortunately, fallen away as our pharmacy teams struggle under the burden of COVID-19.

“At CCPG, we’re looking forward to supporting the reestablishment of these networks once the busyness of the Omicron wave has passed its peak,” Aarti shares.

“We also encourage connecting with another pharmacy or pharmacist to help share the load. We know that Omicron has brought with it a lot of angst and worry that their pharmacies may need to close, either temporarily or longer. By finding a buddy, if the proverbial hits the fan, they can share the load, and ensure their business can continue and their community is still served.”

Aarti’s final piece of advice comes from seeing her husband, a Rangiora-based pharmacist, using his evenings to catch up on the emails and administration he misses during his busy days.

“Look after your own personal wellbeing. Once the sense of urgency surrounding COVID-19 has stopped, where will you be? What will you have left over? Make sure you’re making the time to connect with your family and treasure those around you, now.”

View the March newsletter.