One of the things I love about blogging, tweeting and interacting online is the ability to quickly gather opinion data from my friends, readers and followers. Not too long ago I did this with the help of a free online tool called Survey Monkey in order to gather the opinions of my fellow pharmacists about the job market for our profession. Most pharmacists are aware that the vast majority of areas in the U.S. have a significant oversupply of pharmacists. The consequences of this situation are far reaching, and there is really no end in sight. In other words, in all likelihood it is only going to get worse.
I was curious specifically about the opinions of full time working pharmacists vs. those who are currently out of work and looking for a job. I wondered if their perception might be different, depending on which side of the “employment fence” they were sitting on.
So I designed a quick survey that asked pharmacists about their employment status, giving them the following options:
- Employed Working Full Time
- Employed Working Part Time
- Not Employed Looking for Work
- Not Employed Not Looking for Work
Obviously I could have gotten more granular in these options, but for the most part I was especially interested in comparing options 1 and option 3.
I then asked a very simple (albeit subjective) question: How long do you think it will take the average unemployed pharmacist to find a job?
The question was looking for “perception” or “opinion” and my intention was to filter these answers and compare them between those who were EMPLOYED and those who were UNEMPLOYED.
Due to the nature of the free version of Survey Monkey that I used, I could only obtain 100 answers total. I probably could have splurged and paid for the upgrade to allow for unlimited answers. That might have added a bit more power to my results. But I was working on a budget ($0) so I figured the free version would do.
Here are the results:
|QUESTION: HOW LONG DO YOU THINK IT WILL TAKE AN UNEMPLOYED PHARMACIST TO FIND A JOB?|
|FULL TIME EMPLOYED(45 respondents)||UNEMPLOYED AND LOOKING(24 respondents)|
|> 1 year||4%||42%|
Very interesting. Granted, this is only an opinion survey, and the total number of responses is relatively small compared to the actual number of pharmacists in our country. But the swing in perception about the job market is apparently very different depending on whether you currently have a job or not.
For full-time employed pharmacists, 29% were confident that a new job could be found within 1-3 months. Only a mere 8% of unemployed pharmacists were that optimistic. The majority of EMPLOYED pharmacist responders (49%) felt as though 4-6 months would typically be enough time to find a job if you were unemployed. While the majority of UNEMPLOYED pharmacist responders (42%) thought that > 1 year was more realistic.
Looked at another way, 78% (29% + 49%) of EMPLOYED pharmacists believed 1-6 months would be enough time to find a job while 71% (29% + 42%) of UNEMPLOYED pharmacists said it would be at least 7 months to more than a year.
WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?
As I said, I am not suggesting this data is ready to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine. It probably isn’t even good enough for Drug Topics. But I do think it hints at the reason why the flooded job market is able to continue to get worse with a very small outcry from the pharmacist community. Perception matters. And if you are working full time and believe that finding a job would be relatively easy, then you are unlikely to raise a fuss about another pharmacy school being opened down the street.
It’s like the proverbial frog in the boiling pot of water. We’re all slowly cooking away, unaware that the temperature is getting hotter and hotter, until finally it is too late. We’ve croaked.
WHAT ARE YOUR CONCERNS?
I was also interested in knowing, in general, what are the BIG concerns that most pharmacists have today. with respect to the job market and their careers. So I listed a bunch of options and allowed pharmacists to pick as many as they wanted.
Here are some of the top 5 responses:
JOB MARKET SATURATED: 55%
STRESS LEVEL TOO HIGH: 51%
LACK OF JOB SECURITY: 45%
MY AGE PUTS ME AT A DISADVANTAGE: 35%
FEEL STUCK IN MY PRESENT POSITION: 34%
Once again, this doesn’t paint a great picture of our profession. It sounds like most pharmacists are pretty frustrated. Of course, once again, this is not a huge sampling (only 100 responders). However, it does give some glimpses into how many are feeling.
My personal advice to all pharmacists is to be mindful of your career and its development. Be careful about your job, and be regularly involved in activities which can help promote your job security. Better yet, think about ways to get out of the “job” situation altogether. Being financially savvy, paying down debt and avoiding unnecessary expenses are all things that will help promote your overall fiscal security.
Maybe begin by reading You Own Your Career, and then think about what you can do this week to make some changes.
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