Resilience in the time of pandemic: The experience of community pharmacists during COVID-19
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Background: As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant disruption of the practice of pharmacy. Importantly, in many parts of the world, this disruption occurred literally overnight, requiring pharmacists to demonstrate significant adaptability and resiliency in order to manage continuing and in some cases expanding needs of patients. Objectives: The objective of this research was to characterize how community pharmacy in Ontario (Canada) responded to the COVID-19 pandemic of winter/spring 2020, in particula in understanding what factors may influence or predict resiliency of individual practitioners and their workplaces. Methods: One-on-one interviews mediated through technology (Microsoft Teams) were used, following a semi-structured interview protocol. Verbatim transcripts were produced and analyzed by two independent researchers, using an inductive coding process to identify and characterize themes. Results: A total of 21 pharmacists participated in this study. Six themes were identified: a) use of and comfort with technology; b) early adoption of corporate and professional guidance; c) workplaces that emphasized task-focus rather than multi-tasking were more resilient; d) scheduling methods and practices in the workplace are important for personal resilience; e) dedicated specialty staff allowed pharmacists to focus on their work; and f) provision of personal protective equipment was essential. Conclusions: Traditionally, resilience in professional practice has been characterized as a personal, not a workplace, issue. This study suggests that personal resiliency for pharmacists requires substantial workplace support; further work in this area is required to better understand how pharmacists adapt to complex and difficult situations such as pandemics.