Ask Your Pharmacist

November 02, 2022

How can I help my pharmacist?


Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have remained on the front line of health care throughout the pandemic, and while they are happy to be able to care for their communities, like many front-line health care practitioners they are also experiencing strain.  

Nine out of 10 pharmacy staff are at or near burnout, according to a mental health and wellness survey of Canadian pharmacy professionals conducted by Abacus Data in May. 

Only one in five pharmacy professionals consider their mental health good or very good, and 75 per cent of those surveyed have considered leaving the profession completely. The three major causes of stress identified by those surveyed include: pandemic stress, an increase in harassment, and staffing challenges. 

Our priority has always been delivering safe and effective medication therapy to you. As with many things, the COVID-19 pandemic has made existing pressures in the pharmacy more obvious.  

New Brunswick pharmacists are proud to be able to assess and prescribe for approximately 40 minor ailments, including urinary tract infections. We understand that this is a benefit to you the patient, and that it relieves stress on our strained emergency rooms.  

Added to these responsibilities, pharmacy teams have taken on the role of administering the majority of COVID-19 immunizations. This goes along with providing immunizations against influenza, shingles, and pneumococcal pneumonia, just to name a few. Pharmacists can also now assess and prescribe antiviral therapy for mild to moderate COVID-19.  

With these pressures at the pharmacy in mind, there are some things you can do to help us help you. 

If you have run out of prescription refills and are unable to get to your primary care provider in time, your pharmacists can assess and prescribe, as appropriate, a continuation of care of prescriptions for chronic and stable medical conditions. 

Of course, we will always prioritize medications which you require urgently. Examples of this might include, antibiotics, new pain medication, or any new medication therapy that is required urgently. Most medications dispensed during any given day are not new medications and are medications that are taken for chronic and stable medical conditions.  

Allow sufficient time in your day to have your prescription filled. These added responsibilities require us to think differently about our workflow. In many cases, it is no longer reasonable to expect a 10-to-15-minute wait time for your prescription. A reasonable wait time in today's environment is one hour. If you have multiple medications, this time will be longer.  

Recently, the New Brunswick College of Pharmacists has improved its standards of practice for the compounding of medications. This means, in most cases, prescriptions for many creams, ointments, and other compounded medications require a minimum of 24 hours to prepare.  

We know that you have better things to do with your time than to stand around waiting for your prescription to be ready. If you are getting a new prescription filled, ask to have a text message sent to you or to be called when your prescription is ready.  

Ask to be signed up for automatic prescription refills for those prescriptions that you take regularly. Do not wait until you are out of medications to come in for your refill. 

Plan ahead, whenever possible, to schedule one-on-one time with your pharmacy professional. Whether it is sitting down with your pharmacist to do a comprehensive medication review, or getting a flu shot with a pharmacy assistant, booking an appointment will make best use of your time and ours. 

The most important thing you can do to assist your pharmacy staff is to be kind and patient during your interactions with us, and treat us with respect. We know that often when you come to your pharmacy you are sick, worried, and tired. We are there with you during those times, and we will continue to work with you to find the most efficient way to care for you at community pharmacies across New Brunswick. 

Dr. Kevin Duplisea (PharmD BSc. Pharm, BSc. ACPR) is a pharmacist at Shoppers Drug Mart in Quispamsis, New Brunswick. His opinions are published for educational and informational purposes only, and are not intended as a diagnosis, treatment or as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Send your questions to

Dr. Kevin McLaughlin (PharmD, BScPharm, BSc, ACPR) is the Director of Professional Practice with the New Brunswick Pharmacists' Association. Kevin's home practice is at Kennebecasis Drugs in Rothesay, New Brunswick. His opinions are published in several newspapers for educational and informational purposes only. They are not intended as a diagnosis, treatment or as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have a question you’d like to see answered in his column, you can send it to him at