ROOTSTOWN, Ohio — Picking up your prescription may take some serious time management come March. That's when CVS says it will cut hours in about 9,000 stores, and Walmart plans to close pharmacies at 7 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. at 4,600 stores.
The chains blame the nationwide pharmacist shortage, which started before the pandemic. However, some pharmacists say many are leaving the profession or finding work elsewhere because of being stretched too thin.
The added workload of COVID-19, vaccinations, testing, and medications — as well as drug shortages, price increases, and customers with short tempers — made working conditions difficult for some. But there's another reason, too.
Dr. Jaclyn Boyle is an associate professor at NEOMED in the department of pharmacy. She says job opportunities for pharmacists are diversifying and now there are pharmacists working where they didn't before, such as a primary care physician's office.
"There are actually 90 different practices a pharmacist can work in," Boyle told 3News.
If the shorter hours impact you, there are a few things you can do now to plan ahead. If you use CVS or Walmart, ask if your location plans to cut back hours.
Check to see if your prescription plan has a mail order option. Most mail order pharmacies require three-month prescriptions, but you can manage it online and get many medications refilled automatically.
Ask your health care provider and pharmacist for other options or locations. Shop around for different pharmacies, and don't forget: Places like Costco, Sam's Club, and even Amazon have pharmacy services.
Whatever you choose, make sure your pharmacy and health care team are in direct contact so potential medication errors or interactions can be flagged.