An Anecdotal Perspective of the Current Pharmacist Job Market in North Carolina

My anecdotal perspective is that the pharmacy job market in North Carolina is tight right now.

He was 40 years old, had completed a pharmacy residency, and had run several Veterans Administration clinics in New York before coming to North Carolina to seek a pharmacist position. He said he was willing to work anywhere and would even take the night shift, but he was still unable to find a job.

At first, I thought he had a particular problem that was preventing him from obtaining employment. Then, I went to a continuing education program and casually asked some pharmacists about the current job market.

One 2014 PharmD graduate was working in a research lab and writing grants to support himself because he hadn’t been able to find a full-time pharmacist position. Another mentioned that a pharmacist from a state up north moved to North Carolina to be closer to his grandchildren but had been unable to obtain a full-time job with the same company that he worked for in the Northeast.

Interestingly, the latest Aggregated Demand Index (ADI) from the Pharmacy Workforce Center shows that the Northeast is seeing a slight oversupply of pharmacists, while the South, Midwest, and West are all seeing demand for pharmacists in balance with supply. However, North Carolina’s current 2.67 ADI indicates that demand for pharmacists in the state is slightly lower than the available supply, and my anecdotal perspective is that the pharmacy job market in North Carolina is tight right now.

Is it because pharmacy employers want new graduates rather than experienced practitioners, or is it because the economy isn’t as strong as some say, and so employers aren’t creating new positions? Maybe it’s a little bit of both along with some other factors, such as the changing health care system.

Twenty years ago, there was concern that there weren’t enough pharmacy graduates being produced. Remember when some pharmacy leaders were against the all PharmD movement because it would cause some schools to not graduate a class 1 year as they transitioned from a 5-year curriculum to a 6-year curriculum? Today, it seems like that was a non-issue.

It took 15 years to correct the former pharmacist shortage, and if it will take another 15 years for the marketplace to balance out the apparent surplus of pharmacists today, then I may be hearing more stories about pharmacists having trouble finding jobs in North Carolina. I still feel that the marketplace is the best way to deal with issues of supply and demand.

What are you hearing about pharmacist employment? Share your perspective with me at fred@ncpharmacists.org.