LUBBOCK, Texas — Pharmacy workers have had enough of late nights and long hours. National chain pharmacies decided to cut their hours by closing early in response to staffing shortages.

Walmart and CVS announced they’d be closing earlier in the day starting in March. 

CVS announced they would cut the hours of operation for 9,000 stores nationwide, and Walmart plans to close their pharmacies two hours earlier as well.

Chris Hobart, a local pharmacist and independent pharmacy owner, said he has not had to adjust his hours of operation, he knows all too well how stressful the job can be and has seen people leave the industry when times get tough. 

“It’s really tough to keep people employed there because of the working conditions,” Hobart said. “That’s really making it hard for people to work with these increased demands.”

Dr. Eric MacLaughlin, a professor and department chair with the Texas Tech Health Science center in Amarillo said pharmacy schools that were once popping up all over the country, have now seen a decrease in applicants.

“Because of … concerns about there being too many pharmacists now, of course, the pendulum swung the other way,” Dr. McLaughlin said. “There are jobs out there and again, part of this is working conditions, part of it is COVID.”

Dr. MacLaughlin said the shortage happened for many reasons, but comes down to those who can handle the pressure of the industry in hard times. 

“It’s a shortage of pharmacists willing to work in certain situations, or pharmacies where the working conditions aren’t very good, where they’re super stressed out, where they are overworked and they are not provided enough staff,” Dr. MacLaughlin said. 

Hobart said as a local owner, he enjoys having the freedom and flexibility, and will do what it takes to make sure the jobs are done correctly.

“I stay later if I have to, but I make sure everything gets done right. It does take extra time, it takes extra resources, but to me, there’s no other way to do it. So, if I have to do it all and hire extra people, that’s what it is,” Hobart said. 

Major pharmacy chains are recommending customers utilize their mobile apps to order and refill prescriptions and to do so at least 24 to 48 hours in advance.