2020 Pharmacist Job Market Outlook

2020 pharmacist job market

I’m saddened for some of my friends and colleagues who’ve recently lost their job. The recent move by HealthPartners in my own state hits close to home. HealthPartners is closing up 30 retail pharmacies and this means further tightening of the saturated job market. If you are looking at the traditional pharmacy workforce, the 2020 pharmacist job market outlook is gloomy at best.

The closing of pharmacies has been going on for quite some time in rural America. My small hometown lost their pharmacy in the late ’90s. As reimbursement for prescriptions went down, the volume necessarily had to go up. Bigger retail pharmacies have come in and gobbled up many independent pharmacies. Now, with this move by HealthPartners and many others, it seems even some of the bigger companies are seeing the writing on the wall that the traditional model of pharmacy is not a sustainable business model.

Combating the Negativity – 2020 Pharmacist Job Market Outlook

How should you combat a negative 2020 pharmacist job market outlook? Here’s what I would do.

  1. Develop an area of expertise and begin a process to transition to something different. Healthcare is changing dramatically and retail pharmacy as we have known it will never be the same. Specialists and experts will be leaned on in the future. Areas like informatics and pharmacogenomics are growing areas that many of our nursing and provider colleagues have very little background in.
  2. Find part-time work outside of your retail pharmacy job. This gives you a different skill set as well as a different network.
  3. Get your finances in order. I’ve had a couple of situations where my job status was uncertain earlier in my career. My loans were not paid off and that just compiled onto the stress of uncertainty. The pharmacists at YFP do a nice job of taking financial topics for pharmacists.
  4. Have a conversation with a pharmacist friend you haven’t chatted with in a while.
  5. Have a conversation with a physician. Take them out for lunch. You never know where a discussion might lead.
  6. Solidify your role in the community as a sound resource of healthcare advice. I’ve done some speaking engagements within my community before. There are so many people looking for education on medication and healthcare-related topics. Colleges, nursing, elderly, and community engagement groups are all places where I’ve shared what we know and can do as pharmacists.
  7. Consider a certification based upon the career path you are interested in.
  8. My most important piece of advice is to do something now. TAKE ACTION and stop “thinking about it”.

I am still bullish on provider status for pharmacists. It will happen and it has to happen. Continued effort is necessary from our profession. Take the time to write a letter to your representatives and senators. This article demonstrates that it is on the table at CMS and we haven’t been forgotten. If this happens, would you be ready to step into a clinical role? If not, what are you waiting for?


  1. Mariana I.

    Very good points, especially, “take action and stop thinking about it” and “Develop an area of expertise and begin a process to transition to something different.” Even skills sets in other areas which intersect with pharmacy will most likely be useful at least.

  2. Michele Lennox

    Well said, great advice!

  3. Joseph Doyle RPh

    Well educated PharmD’s should also consider the Pharma industry for roles such as Medical Science Liaisons, or work in the medical or research areas of the company, or work as a technical writers or account people for companies that service the industry… I did my first 35 years of my career this way and ended up as a CEO of a company that did marketing and educational programs for Pharma & the Biotech industry… now my retirement job is taking care people in a family owned independent 3 days a week… There’s PLENTY of opportunity out there for those bold enough seek it out!

    • Sidonie Niba

      This is SUCH good advice. I have been working as an MSL for years and now lead an MSL team. I knew nothing about it in Pharmacy school. I am not coaching other pharmacists into MSL and other opportunities. There are opportunities – we just have to get rid of fear and DO THE WORK. But boy is it worth it!

      • Joseph Doyle

        Thank you for your reply . I’ve offered my services to talk to pharmacy schools in CA and they expressed interest but no follow up from them…

        • Sidonie Niba

          Hi Joseph. That’s quite sad. I’d love to connect with you. Are you on LinkedIn?

          And for what it’s worth I meant to say *I am now coaching…*, not *not coaching*.

  4. Shellie N

    It sounds nice, but it doesn’t get you a job. I have experience in pharmacogenomics, have my clinician license, and am board certified in ambulatory care, but I don’t see any job postings for any of these so what difference does it make? The only postings are for a few retail positions, some hospital and those jobs could care less about this type of specialty experience. I know PharmDs who have been laid-off and one is now a dog-walker and the other decided to retire each because they couldn’t find jobs after months of looking.

  5. Shoua

    Spot on! Thank you!


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Written By Eric Christianson

November 13, 2019

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