New Guidelines Define Pharmacist Responsibilities and Rights

The coronavirus pandemic amplified for the public a reality already well-known to pharmacists: they give everything for their patients no matter what it takes, even at the expense of their own well-being. Even before the pandemic, this truth was so pervasive that it spurred five of the largest pharmacy organizations to convene in 2019 and devise 50 recommendations aimed at reducing the mental and physical burdens belaboring pharmacists.

The recommendations came on the heels of similar initiatives introduced in state congresses across the country in recent years, with legislators advocating bills to limit pharmacist work hours and enforce routine breaks throughout the day.

This year, the APhA and the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA) continued the work from that conference and created another document that “develops action-oriented activities based on a number of these recommendations,” said Joni Cover, JD, vice president of strategic initiatives at NASPA.

“Pharmacists are tremendous healthcare providers. They need workplace changes such as appropriate staffing, and support that allows them to provide the best possible care to their patients.”

The document, Pharmacist’s Fundamental Responsibilities and Rights, aims to guide basically everyone involved in pharmacy, from store clerks to governing authorities. “The principles in the Fundamentals document were developed for all who practice pharmacy and care for patients, irrespective of the practice site, to ensure that the practice setting provides a positive, welcoming, and professional place to practice and care for patients,” Cover said.

For pharmacists in particular, the hope is they will “engage supervisors and managers in a meaningful discussion about their workplace and issues surrounding workplace well-being, both the good and the bad, that lead to overall improvement in workplace environments plus improved well-being for employees,”Cover said.

For pharmacy managers and owners, the hope is to use the guide to “have a discussion with your pharmacists and pharmacy personnel. Be willing to hear their concerns and ideas for improving the workplace.”

For governing authorities, the hope is to make changes to laws and regulations causing undue administrative burdens, allowing pharmacists to focus on patient care.

Most of all, NASPA wants this document to encourage pharmacists to advocate for themselves. “The takeaway for pharmacists,” Cover said, “is that it is important to continue to make your voice heard.”


Pharmacist’s Fundamental Responsibilities and Rights

Pharmacist’s Fundamental Responsibilities and Rights details five fundamental pharmacist responsibilities and seven fundamental rights. For the full document go to

5 Fundamental Responsibilities

1. To practice with honesty and integrity.
2. To seek employment that aligns with their professional goals and personal values and needs.
3. To be lifelong learners to maintain professional competency and engage in the profession.
4. To educate their patients and the public to enhance public health.
5. To make decisions and seek resolutions regarding workplace concerns without fear of intimidation or retaliation from their employer or supervisors.

7 Fundamental Rights

1. To practice pharmacy in the best interest of patient and community health and well-being.
2. To exercise professional judgment under the auspices of their license when delivering care to patients.
3. To be treated in a considerate, respectful, and professional manner by patients and supported by employers and supervisors.
4. To a workplace free of racism, discrimination, bullying, or harassment, as well as physical, verbal, or emotional abuse.
5. To a working environment where the necessary resources are allocated to provide both legally required patient care services, as well as any additional enhanced patient care services offered.
6. To reasonable working hours and conditions.
7. To have a voice in the development of metrics, and how those metrics are used as criteria for performance evaluations of all pharmacy staff.


From the Magazine

This article was published in our quarterly print magazine, which covers relevant topics in greater depth featuring leading experts in the industry. Subscribe to receive the quarterly print issue in your mailbox. All registered independent pharmacies in the U.S. are eligible to receive a free subscription.

More articles from the September 2021 issue:


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