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DES MOINES, Iowa — Pharmacies have struggled for the last several years trying to hire pharmacy technicians. But just over the last couple of months, pharmacists have been hard to come by.

Walgreens in September raised its pay to $15 per hour for workers in its pharmacies, and last month offered bonuses for full-time and part-time workers in order to retain and hire staff. There are several reasons for why pharmacists numbers appear to be low at some pharmacies, but not one issue is the sole problem.

“We haven’t seen research pinpointing a specific issue. I do think that it is a combination of where we are at in the pandemic and burnout that pharmacists and nearly all health care providers are experiencing,” said Kate Gainer, the CEO of the Iowa Pharmacy Association.

Besides burnout, Gainer went on to explain that the job market for pharmacists is really competitive and that enrollment numbers are down for pharmacy schools.

“Throughout the pandemic, pharmacists have taken on greater responsibility, greater public health roles and they are so acceptable to provide vaccinations and testing or even testing for influenza or strep,” Gainer said. “So staying staffed to be able to provide those services and prescriptions that still need to be process in a pharmacy is very important.”

Gainer added that patients stick with their same pharmacy to develop a relationship just as you would a doctor or a dentist.