I would venture to guess that the vast majority of pharmacists personally know of a pharmacist or technician who is out of work and looking for a job. Personally, I know several. If you add to that the number of pharmacists who email me and talk to me about the job market, the number stretches to dozens just within my immediate circle. This isn’t surprising. A recently released survey from ASHP indicates that the pharmacist vacancy rate (a measure of unfilled pharmacist positions) is at an 11 year low of just 2.1%. In other words, a “no vacancy” sign might as well be hung over the doors of 97.9% of employment opportunities surveyed.
I have been writing and talking about this growing problem for years. However, those of us who see this as a serious problem are often made to feel like we are crying wolf. The reason is that there are certain groups for whom a surplus of pharmacists is beneficial. Think about it. A surplus of pharmacists ultimately drives down wages which is a big bonus for the major employers like chains and hospitals. Even if wages don’t go down, employers can increase workloads to unsafe levels knowing that pharmacists are unlikely to quit since jobs are scarce. Not only that, but schools of pharmacy benefit from increased enrollments regardless of whether there are actually jobs for their graduates or not. There is no tuition reimbursement policy for jobless graduates.
Finally, pharmacists themselves may not be fully aware of the problem if they personally have not been impacted. If you have a job, it is difficult to appreciate the challenges involved in finding a job today. Back 5-10 years ago, the situation was different. Many pharmacists may be under the mistaken impression that if they were to lose their job tomorrow, they would be working again in a couple weeks.
There is no quick and simple solution to the problem, but there are things we can do. For example, we can speak up about the situation, in hopes that someone will start listening. Maybe the truth will convince one young starry eyed student to look elsewhere for a career path. Maybe the truth will convince some school of pharmacy dean to recommend smaller class sizes for the next year. Maybe the truth will wake up boards of pharmacy to regulate staffing levels that would require more pharmacist’s per day to handle the excessive volume.
Also, we can become more active and intentional about managing our careers in a market that is not favorable. Pharmacists need to be smart about how they market themselves, especially given the sizeable loans they need to repay after graduation.
I have created a QUICK 7-question survey for PHARMACISTS and PHARMACY TECHNICIANS.
The answers to these questions will help communicate the current market situation to others who are thinking about this career path, as well as helping individuals like me determine how to better serve the needs of my fellow pharmacy professionals.
Here is the survey:
NOTE: The Survey is CLOSED. You can read the RESULTS of the survey in my post: Pharmacy Job Search – How Long Will it Take?
Last modified: April 17, 2023