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Executive Summary

Polygraph tests should not be used as a means of pre-employment screening in pharmacies or for routine checking of employees, APhA President John Schlegel, PharmD, asserted in an Aug.23 letter to Rep. Martinez (D-Calif.), chairman of the Education & Labor Subcmte. on Employment Opportunities. Martinez' subcmte. is currently reviewing five bills that address the use of polygraph testing of employees. "APhA recognizes the problem of internal theft and is aware of efforts to curb this problem through the use of polygraph tests," Schlegel said. "However, it holds that the use of polygraph tests is inappropriate because of the serious issues regarding the competency of polygraph examiners, reliability of the tests, and control and use of test results." He added:"The use of polygraph tests also raises profound constitutional and invasion of privacy issues." Speaking at the Natl. Assn. of Chain Drug Stores annual pharmaceutical conference in Chicago Aug. 28, Schlegel noted that APhA is taking a stand in opposition to polygraph tests. He observed that this is an area where NACDS and APhA "currently agree to disagree." "I have heard what I believe to be virtually all of the arguments for and against the use of polygraphs in the chain drug industry," Schlegel told the chain drug execs. "But in the final analysis, since it simply is an employment issue that can drive you and your employed pharmacists apart, the arguments on both sides may be unimportant. The bottom line is that being subjected to polygraph testing is unacceptable to the vast majority of the pharmacists you employ." NACDS has gone on record in opposing two pending House bills, HR 1524 and HR 1924, that would ban the use of the polygraph by private industry while allowing the government to continue to use the test. NACDS has thrown its support behin(l another pending bill, HR 1792, that, while allowing continued use of polygraph testing by private industry, would establish standards and protections applicable to administration of the tests as well as licensing requirements for examiners. At a recent congressional hearing, a chain exec, speaking for the assn., said that at least 80% of NACDS members use polygraph tests regularly ("The Pink Sheet" Aug. 5, T&G-11). "I believe that there is overwhelming support for ]a polygraph test ban[ among APhA members and pharmacists generally, particularly recent graduates. Pharmacy students are also dead set against this practice." Schlegel declared. Schlegel's comments were part of a general discussion on how the drug chains can better stem the rapid turnover of pharmacists out of their businesses and the industry in general. Citing a recent study by the Texas Pharmaceutical Assn. on pharmacist job dissatisfaction, Schlegel noted that 54% of survey respondents currently in practice stated that they would prefer to be doing something else. This figure included 50% of community pharmacists surveyed, 52% of hospital pharmacists, and 60% of pharmacists serving in chain pharmacies, Schlegel pointed out. The study indicates that the pharmacy profession "has a significant problem in job satisfaction terms among pharmacists employed in all three settings," Schlegel said, "but particularly in chains." According to the 1984 study, Schlegel observed that 30% of chain pharmacists surveyed said they expected to leave their present employment within three years -- up from 22% in 1982. On the bright side, Schlegel observed that chain drug beginning salaries to pharmacists, which lead the industry, continue to rise. Also, Schlegel jointed out that several chains "have begun to diversify into health care areas and activities that are nontraditional for ]the[ industry and which represent expansion of professional roles for ]chain[ pharmacist employees." Also speaking on the NACDS program, Upjohn-sponsored management consultant David Schmidt presented a manual for dealing with pharmacist employee dissatisfaction. Among the 13 sources he cited for pharmacist dissatisfaction were: "feeling underpaid; poor supervision; little or no opportunity for job advancement; poor working hours, or little control over work schedule; and having little or no time for patient contact." In order to deal with these problems, Schmidt suggested: more flexible work hours; lunch and dinner breaks; contests, incentives and recognition programs; professional meetings and seminars for pharmacists employed in drug chains; and more opportunity for patient contact.

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