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Too many schools, not enough jobs

Breanne Doyle, PharmD
I received an excellent pharmacy education. I feel confident about joining the workforce as a pharmacy professional. Unfortunately, the opportunities I dreamed about when I began school in 2007 are no longer available.

In 2007, a career in pharmacy appeared to offer a promising future to someone medically inclined. I expected to enter a profession that would enable me to use my education and skills to achieve a reasonable income, job security, and a fulfilling life.

Little did I know that when I graduated I would have a difficult time finding a job in my geographical area. Or that some pharmacy students would be struggling just to get the internship hours they need in order to sit for the board exam.

What happened?

Only 5 years ago, all we heard was "pharmacist shortage, great jobs, great benefits, great pay." So what happened?

  • If we extrapolate from 2010 U.S. Census data to 2013, the U.S. population will be 316,942,609, a 12.6% increase from 2000.
  • In 2000, there were 80 pharmacy schools; now there are 120, a 50% increase.
  • In "From shortage to surplus: The hazards of uncontrolled academic growth," published in the American Journal of Pharmacy Education December 15, 2010, Dr. Daniel Brown puts the number of 2001 pharmacy graduates at approximately 7,000; the projection suggests that by 2014, that number could "easily surpass 14,000 when all is said and done —a literal doubling."

Where are the jobs for graduates?

I do not believe that Medicare Part D, the Affordable Care Act, and "baby boomer" healthcare demands will be sufficient to absorb the massive numbers of pharmacy graduates. And while programs such as medication therapy management are becoming increasingly important, pharmacists are not being compensated for this, nor are positions available. Meanwhile, automation and mail-order pharmacies proliferate, cutting into job opportunities.

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