Staff Burnout Rates Are High at Pharmacy Schools


A study found that pharmacy practice faculty experience high rates of emotional exhaustion.

Working in a pharmacy is stressful, but just how stressful is it? A recent study analyzed the rates at which pharmacy practice faculty experience burnout and found them to be high.

Overall, practicing faculty pharmacists experience high rates of burnout-“a pathological syndrome in which emotional depletion and maladaptive detachment develop secondary to chronic occupational stress.” The study, “Assessment of Burnout and Associated Risk Factors Among Pharmacy Practice Faculty in the United States” was published in the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education.

It looked at three different factors related to burnout-emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, personal accomplishment-to assess what are the greatest contributors to burnout. Low emotional exhaustion and depersonalization scores and high personal accomplishment scores are desirable. The study surveyed 758 pharmacy practice faculty members from a range of backgrounds.

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Of the study’s respondents, 41.3% reported high emotional exhaustion scores, 10% had high depersonalization scores, and 24% had low personal accomplishment scores. “The high percentage of pharmacy faculty with significant emotional exhaustion found in our study is concerning,” said the authors. Emotional exhaustion contributed most to burnout, and among pharmacy faculty, is “higher than demographic norms.” The authors also believe that these rates may have been underreported since the survey was distributed during summer months when faculty members were away from classes.

The five most common stressors that the respondents reported were: lack of time to perform well, interruptions by students/faculty, handling paperwork, lack of time to meet deadlines, and keeping up with new developments in the profession. Those at highest risk for emotional exhaustion include: women (who, as the authors note, often face added pressures in any work environment), assistant professors, those with young children, and those who work longer hours every week.

To reduce burnout, the authors suggest modifying workloads, such as providing flexible work hours and taking closer note of working hours, and working with a mentor, which was associated with lower depersonalization.

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