I usually try to ignore this stuff, because it doesn’t do any good to worry about the pharmacy job outlook. I love what I do and have no intention of switching professions, but for me, the pharmacy job outlook recently got a little more personal as two friends I spoke with within the last six months have been impacted with companies cutting back. These friends are good people who work hard. They are not slackers by any means. Harry Truman said, “It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose yours.” These recent experiences lead me to think the recession is here.
I’m not an expert at this topic, but I know what I see, and from a professional working out in the field, the pharmacy job outlook isn’t getting better. I did a quick google search and found that American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) is promoting this on their website “A shortfall of as many as 157,000 pharmacists is predicted by 2020 according to the findings of a conference sponsored by the Pharmacy Manpower Project, Inc. Complete findings are detailed in the final report, “Professionally Determined Need for Pharmacy Services in 2020.” They also cite a report from 2000. Yes, that Y2K that was 15 years ago and nearly 50 less pharmacy schools. There’s getting to be plenty of anecdotal data, and now more solid literature to refute what AACP is promoting.
I know what 100,000+ in debt feels like, and while I wholeheartedly take responsibility for my debt, I also had a very good job market (at least for a couple years) when I came out of school. Put yourself in the shoes of a new grad – imagine 200k worth of debt in an average to poor job market.
Pharmacists better get used to the fact that the job market isn’t going to be as good as it was even just 3-5 years ago, and for new graduates with high amounts of debt (I know, I’ve talked to them and am still trying to tackle my own), that’s a bleak picture.
I want to provide something of value here and not simply just identify problems about what’s going on, so what should you do if you are in pharmacy school or a relatively new graduate who needs a job and cares about the profession?
1. Show up early, stay late, and work efficiently. No one owes you anything, just because you have a PharmD.
2. People know people who are looking for employees who will do number 1(work hard). If no one knows you, you drastically reduce the number of opportunities available to you. A strong network is so important. Working hard hasn’t been an issue for me, but networking has historically been a huge weakness for me. My personality trends more towards the introvert side, but this blog has certainly benefitted me greatly in that department.
3. Expand your toolbox by volunteering to take on new tasks that no one else wants to. Be irreplaceable. If you’re looking to improve your clinical skills, I’m creating a clinical pharmacy Ebook, subscribers will be the first to be notified of this limited time FREE offer! Click here to subscribe
4. You have to do things to set yourself apart – Certifications, presentations, community involvement etc. Take advantage of any on-the-job training a company is willing to give you.
5. Pay off your debt as fast as you can. While money can allow you to do some really cool stuff and buy you some really cool things, the most important aspect of money is its ability to provide freedom to do what you want to do. Being tied to a job you don’t like simply for the paycheck is a bad long term plan.
Eric Christianson, PharmD, CGP, BCPS
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