The shortage of pharmacists also hits Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean

According to the Order of Pharmacists of Quebec (OPQ), the shortage is rife everywhere, even in major centres. According to his estimates, there is a shortage of between 400 and 600 professionals in the province, which includes the hospital sector.

Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean ranks 7and rank out of 17 regions for the number of inhabitants per pharmacist. With 836 inhabitants per pharmacist, the region does a little better than the Quebec average, which is 873.

Montreal ranks first with 616 inhabitants per pharmacist, while Nord-du-Québec brings up the rear with a ratio of 1,556 to 1.

Several causes

Retirements, the aging of the population and the government’s request for pharmacists to do more acts are in question according to theOPQ. Among the possible solutions: admit more students into the program, recruit foreign graduates and train more technical assistants in pharmacy to support professionals.

There are several solutions that could be implemented. We will discuss very soon with the government to try to plan this as best as possible to meet the needs of the population and above all to succeed in doing everything that the government entrusts to us.mentioned Bertrand Bolduc, President of theOPQ.

A pharmacy laboratory.

Pharmacies are overloaded.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Melissa Paradis

To reduce waiting times, pharmacists invite the public to renew prescriptions online or through the automated telephone service, in addition to providing automatic renewals.

Busy schedules at the Uniprix in Roberval

The Uniprix pharmacy in Roberval is teeming with pharmacy technical assistants to process the many prescriptions that end up in the laboratory. But to validate the drugs sold and give advice, it would take at least two more pharmacists, while recruitment difficulties are not new.

We manage to survive, but we have to work 50, 60, 70 hours a week to do so. It means that it can be dangerous. It’s physically difficult. It’s tough mentally because it’s a job where you always have to be focused. There are risks of error. We have no room for error. We don’t want bad things to happensaid Julie Beaupré, pharmacist owner of the Uniprix de Roberval.

A man operates a machine.

Robotization has helped the Roberval pharmacy, but it has its limits. Only pharmacists can validate prescriptions prepared by the machines.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Melissa Paradis

To limit the impact of this shortage, the company has reviewed its opening hours and turned to robotization, which however has its limits. However, it makes less use of agencies that supply replacement pharmacists.

Substitutes are useful for making a replacement, but now it’s become that all pharmacists want to be substitutes because they work the hours they want at the time they want, but above all at double the salary , said Michel Gomolka, manager at Uniprix Roberval. What happens is that there is no longer anyone who is able to take it or takes it less and less. As they take less and less from the pharmacy, there are fewer and fewer opportunities to provide services to the population.

This is also a trend that has been noticed by the Quebec Association of Proprietary Pharmacists (AQPP).

Yes, we are focusing on this problem. It is growing both at the level of pharmacists and technical assistants and we are looking for a way to make our pharmacies attractive enough so that people do not have the reflex of having to go to these agencies to improve their living conditions.explained Benoit Morin, president of theAQPP.

Based on a report by Mélissa Paradis

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