“The Pharmacist Shortage” and other lies…

January 31, 2013 • Pharmacy Careers • Views: 6515

Someone once said “Beware of the half truth.  You may have gotten hold of the wrong half.”

That saying came to mind as I opened a letter yesterday from the Western New England College of Pharmacy in Massachusetts.


The letter was a survey concerning pharmacy services being offered by our employers, as well as some opinion questions about the profession of pharmacy.  I actually would have been happy to answer the survey, except for the fact that I read the cover page…. 

In this brief, introductory 1-page statement about the survey and the college of pharmacy I read such words as:

a growing need for pharmacists” AND

Shortages of pharmacists” AND

your opinion on the pharmacist shortage.”

Credibility immediately went out the window.  Anyone familiar with the pharmacy profession, particularly in Massachusetts, knows this is nothing but carefully worded propaganda to attract students which will have to move far away to find jobs.  Massachusetts presently is the home to 4 schools of pharmacy – an UNHEARD of number given the relatively small size of the state. 

The fact is we have a surplus of pharmacists in Massachusetts and around the country at the moment.  The “data” is hard to come by, as the only ones in a position to quantify this don’t actually want you to know it (i.e. employers).  But numerous interactions with other pharmacists and students convinces me of the problem.  This surplus, of course, puts employers in a powerful position to impose working conditions on pharmacists which jeopardize patient safety.  Pharmacists need their job, so they grin and bear it…but regret that ultimately patients are getting the short end of the spatula. 

I will send an email to the author of the letter (a pharmacist!) and get his perspective on our “shortage” here in Massachusetts.  Check back for his response.

In the mean time…beware the lying eyes (and lying letters):

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Author: Jason Poquette

4 Responses to “The Pharmacist Shortage” and other lies…

  1. P Cohron says:

    Most of the entities claiming no pharmacist shortage rely on the Pharmacy Manpower Project, which predicts a continuing shortage until 2020. The problem with such reliance is that the PMP estimate relied on a growth of new graduates to the tune of 3 new pharmacy schools every decade. Instead, in 2000 there were 80 schools of pharmacy and in 2012 there were 127, an expansion of almost 70% of new schools.

    • Me112233 says:

      Your math is fuzzy, yet the concept you projected is accurate. Even if no new schools came on line, the expected graduates in 2016 will be almost double the number of graduates in the year 2000 — from 7,000 to 14,000. (Not only do we have a great number of new schools as you noted, many existing schools increased their admissions.) I read somewhere that in 1999, there were roughly 12,000 unfilled pharmacy positions. But we have already filled that shortage. And the new grads just keep coming. Where are they all going to work?

      • fdsf says:

        Don’t forget the 10,000 H1b visa sponsorships of the last ten years. Even with the surplus, several thousand were sponsored this past year. That’s the new employee model for retail…
        Pharmacy boards green lighted that away…

        • jasonpoquette says:

          I didn’t even touch on that often ignored factor. Again, pharmacy boards (who are run by chain-pharmacy and pharmacy school executives) have orchestrated a brilliant plan to flood the market and create this surplus.

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