Has Saturation in Pharmacy Affected Your Career Options?

February 23, 2015

Is the pharmacy job market on the incline or decline with the saturation of pharmacists?

In the past few years, there has been a steady increase in the number of pharmacy schools opening across the nation. This, in turn, has created saturation in pharmacy.

Some states are getting hit harder than others, so I ask the question: are there still positions available for pharmacists with specialties or advanced degrees?

I have found that a lot of the new graduates are looking to specialize in certain areas or seeking primarily clinical positions. Are these positions still in existence, and is having this goal realitistic?

Of course, there are always retail positions needing to be filled where clinical and management skills can be utilized, but are hospitals, health care systems, and long-term care facilities offering sole clinical and management positions anymore?

When I talk to new graduates, I always support and encourage their continued career growth, but I also warn them that they may not be able to find that “perfect” position, working 5 days a week, no nights or weekends. My train of thought is “make whatever position you currently have into the position you want it to be”.

There can be some limitations to doing everything you may want to do, but if you take the initiative to go over and beyond your job description, it can make the difference between monotony and satisfaction with your job.

For example, if you have an order entry position, there are many clinical interventions that can be made at the initiation of the order. With today's advances in technology and electronic medical records, you can go in and see the physician’s train of thought when he or she was making the decision to write certain orders. In addition, many health care systems require pharmacists to document clinical interventions in order to show cost savings for the facility.

Does additional training, certifications, or advanced degrees make you a better candidate for specific positions, or are they fair game for anyone who applies? Again, this could be a problem that is specific to certain geographical areas, but there is the perception that companies are hiring new graduates for less money to do the same jobs that established pharmacists are doing.

Whether this is true or not depends on who you talk to, but again, a position is what you make it.

What I love to do as a pharmacist is to train, mentor, educate, and manage operational staff. I have had positions in the past that allowed me to do this for 90% to 100% of my job. My current position does not officially carry this job responsibility, but I can carve out time during my day to do what I can. I also make it known to my boss that I have a certain skill set and desire to expand my job responsibilities to these areas.

Whether or not your requests are received or opportunities become available, all pharmacists have the ability to create and maintain a career niche. The amount of depth that you put into exercising your particular skill wherever you work is up to you.