Is a Healthcare Professional Working Long Hours Good for Your Health?

man burnout

A pharmacist comes on board to be the interim director of pharmacy at a small acute care hospital.  The agency the new pharmacist is working through told him to expect to work with one other pharmacist while one is on maternity leave and to be the interim director of pharmacy.

When reporting in on, Wednesday, his first day, he meets the Human Resources Manager, the Chief Nursing Officer, and the pharmacist.  It was the pharmacist who tells him that her last day was Friday.  Saturday he is the sole full-time pharmacist, with the help of two part-time pharmacists covering a few weekends.

The pharmacy hours are from 7 AM to 5 PM weekdays and 7 AM to 3 PM weekends and holidays.    The outgoing pharmacist always came in at 6 AM and suggested that he do the same so as get a jump on the day and enable him to be caught up and better direct my day.

burnout cartoonThe interim Director of Pharmacy has no time to tend to the administrative tasks of running a pharmacy department.  All that can be accomplished is the duties of a clinical pharmacist.

That becomes an eleven-hour day with no lunch break; that becomes a 55 hour work week.  Oh, to top it off, the pharmacist cannot totally relax at the end of a long day; he carries the on-call telephone to answer any questions and provide pharmacy information after hours.

It is soon Labor Day, the pharmacist will begin work Monday, August 29 and will work through the Labor Day weekend and the following week.  He will have worked twelve straight days most of which are eleven hours or longer.

The hospital has gone through nine pharmacists in two short years.  No wonder, they burn them out.  How can hospital administration demand this kind of expectation from a healthcare professional?  Are they that oblivious?  Do they not care?

female burnoutA hospital pharmacist determines to dose on antibiotics; he doses anticoagulant (blood thinner) medications, he calculates and quantifies the electrolytes and amount of carbohydrates, protein, and lipids (fat) in a total parenteral nutrition (TPN).  Medication dosing an important responsibility requiring keen focus.  The pharmacist too, reads medication orders, checks for interactions, appropriate dosing, and monitors the work of pharmacy technicians.

How would you feel knowing that all medications that you receive are determined by a pharmacist that is putting in an eleven-hour day and who received three phone calls last night interrupting his attempt to get some needed rest?