From John Grisham to AJPE: Must-Reads for Pharmacists on Student Loan Debt


Check out the author's new fiction work and the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education's non-fiction take on this crushing burden.

Previous student loan articles on Pharmacy Times address how-tos on student loan repayment. Examples include "Refinancing Student Loans After Pharmacy School" and “Student Loan Forgiveness Options for Pharmacy Residents and Clinical Pharmacists."

However, these articles don’t address the associated stress and what it feels like to have a wall of hundreds of thousands of dollars between you and life satisfaction. Author John Grisham and the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education (AJPE) do.

His most recent book, The Rooster Bar (Doubleday, 2017), highlights the struggle of a group of third-year law students who have hundreds of thousands of dollars of crushing student loan debt and no job prospects. The story begins with 3 students coming to the realization that the money they invested in their education is coming due soon. They opt to pursue out-of-the-box somewhat entrepreneurial solutions that get them in a lot of trouble.1

As the average pharmacy student loan debt soars above $160,000, many pharmacy students will find this book to be a wonderful misery loves company read or listen. The emails between the main characters and their loan service processors are both spot-on and hilarious. Although the story is fictional, much of the backstory outlines accurate numbers regarding the student loan debt bubble and provides a welcome, if not brief, escape.

Meanwhile, on the non-fiction front, the AJPE recently published an article based on the results of a study, showing that student financial knowledge may help them borrow less.2 I applaud the researchers' efforts to bring to light the tie between student loan debt and pharmacy student well-being.

Another AJPE article helps frame why many pharmacists feel as if they are running on a financial treadmill.3 Results of the associated study show that though pharmacist salaries have been rising, that doesn't make up for an increase in consumer spending. A podcast episode, "The Impact of Rising Student Debt on a Pharmacist's Income" expands on the AJPE article.

In addition, the American Public Health Association provides several financial education videos, and the Pharmacy Podcast Network's segment, The Income Outcomes Show, provides emotional and financial guidance.

As students and new graduates grapple with student loan challenges, sometimes it is just nice to know that others are in the same boat.


1. Grisham, J. The Rooster Bar. New York, NY: Doubleday; 2017.

2. Chisholm-Burns MA, Spivey CA, Jaeger MC, Williams J. Associations between pharmacy students' attitudes toward debt, stress, and student loans. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. 2017;81(7):5918.

3.Mattingly II TJ, Ulbrich TR. Evaluating the changing financial burdens for graduating pharmacists. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. 2017;81(7)5990.

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