The time has come for us to discuss: Hours of work and eating periods, Overtime, Minimum wage, Public holiday, Vacation pay, and Personal emergency leave.
The words "Pharmacists" and "lunch" (or dinner or breaks, etc) aren't often used together unless phrases like "I skipped..." or "I missed..." or "I never get..." are also included.
Many pharmacists receive a meal break of some sort during our work day, but many others do not take a break (voluntarily or involuntarily) during 8-hour, 10-hour and even 12-hour shifts.
For pharmacists who involuntarily do not take a break, it can lead to resentment with their employer ("My boss only cares about profits!") as well as resentment towards the profession ("Why isn't my College of Pharmacy or Ontario Pharmacists Association protecting my basic well-being??").
A quick glance at online comments in pharmacist forums reveals some of the criticism pharmacists have:
Pharmacists are often touted (in the media, as well as by pharmacists and pharmacy organizations themselves) as being "the most accessible" healthcare professional. Yes, this is true, and it's a good public relations statement about our importance in the healthcare system but this situation comes with its own troubles.
Once you give someone (patients, customers, etc) a certain level of convenience and accessibility, they will get used to it and expect it to be the norm.
How many times have you said "sorry" to a waiting patient who had a question to ask, even though they've been waiting for maybe 5-10 minutes? I've done it numerous times.
Hesitation to change the status quo can be intimidating, especially when everyone expects a pharmacist be readily available for the sake of good customer service.
As an OPA Board member from 2012 - 2014, I've heard a lot of criticism of OPA for not doing its part to protect X, Y, or Z of the pharmacist's career (replace X, Y, Z with any of the following: wages, benefits, work conditions, scope of practice, job security, job availability, government relations).
All of the criticism and anecdotes and research into pharmacists' perceptions of their working conditions has compelled the Ontario Pharmacists Association to begin an official campaign that may ultimately result in establishing certain minimum employment standards for all pharmacists in Ontario.
You can read some of the background information here:
These "employment standards" include not just breaks, but also other topics such as overtime pay, vacation pay, holiday pay, emergency leave, minimum wage and more.
OPA is asking ANYONE (pharmacist or not) who is interested in these topics to fill out a 5 minute survey so that the OPA understands what the profession wants so it can proceed with providing a unified voice for pharmacists.
Many practicing pharmacists (including myself) like the idea of a mandatory meal break, but struggle with the logistics of how it would affect their workflow. The survey has two interesting suggested solutions which require your input.
You would be giving yourself and all of your colleagues a great voice by participating in the survey, no matter your feelings towards the current state of the profession and its working conditions.
Here is the link to the 5 minute survey www.OPAESAPharmacyResearch.com
Complete the survey by 11:59 pm EST on November 17th