The pharmacist shortage was both good and bad for the pharmacy profession. On one hand it created demand which drove up salaries and improved work environments for some. On the other hand it created an environment of apathy where competition to become better dipped because frequently all you needed was a pulse and a license to get hired and/or keep your job.
Well, times are changing. I noticed a slight change in pharmacist demand during my last two years in the hospital and many people thatÂ I’veÂ talked to across the country confirm what Iâ€™ve been thinking – the pharmacist shortage is over.
Today I received my weekly Coumpounding Today newsletter that says much the same thing. In it Loyd Allen, the editor says â€œConsequently [for the reasons cited above], many pharmacists are staying in the workforce longer than anticipated and some have returned to the workforce that have already retired because of increased costs and the lack of adequate finances for their retirement. This may be full-time or part-time employment.
The end result is that the workforce in pharmacy is becoming overpopulated and new graduates are having trouble finding jobs. This is further complicated by fewer new chain stores being built and a significant increase in the number of colleges of pharmacy (from about 80 in the 70s to over 140 currently), that are now churning out more pharmacists.
A reversal in this trend will probably not occur until the US economy changes with an increase in new pharmacies opening, retirement becomes more “profitable”, closing of some colleges of pharmacy or other activities that impact pharmacy practice. Retirement age of pharmacists may increase from 62, to 65, to 70, to 75â€¦it’s hard to tell what is going to happen but the topic needs to be discussed at the national level.â€
This all equates to good news for hospitals, retail chains, long-term care pharmacies, etc. Unfortunately I canâ€™t say the same for the new grads coming out of school and entering the workforce. I remember how hard it was for me to get my first hospital job after pharmacy school. I didnâ€™t have a residency under my belt – considered blasphemy by UCSF – and had it not been for the pharmacist shortage I would have never been given a chance. It took a phone interview, two personal interviews and letters of recommendation before the hospital I went to work for agreed to â€œgive me a three month evaluation.â€ I shudder to think where I would have ended up if there would have been no shortage; I was working for a chain pharmacy at the time.
Whatâ€™s this all mean for the profession? I donâ€™t know, but itâ€™ll be interesting to watch it develop over the next decade or so.