Are there still jobs for pharmacists? According to data from the Pharmacy Workforce Center we have entered a period of balance between pharmacists and available jobs. However, a closer look at the latest data reveals important career considerations for pharmacists as they look for new opportunities.
One tool used to assess the availability of jobs for pharmacists in the U.S. market is the Pharmacist Demand Index (PDI), formerly known as the Aggregate Demand Index (ADI). This information comes through research coordinated by the Pharmacy Workforce Center which seeks to “collect, analyze and disseminate data on the supply of licensed pharmacists in the United States, the demand for pharmacy services and related pharmacy student and workforce issues for educational, scientific, or charitable purposes.”
The website publishes data quarterly. The current information covers panelist responses through June, 2017. A number scale of 1 to 5 is used to rank the difficulty encountered filling a pharmacist opening. A rating of 5 would indicate a very difficult to fill position (high demand). A rating of 1 would be the easiest to fill position (low demand, saturated market).
Here are the numbers for 3 broad pharmacist job categories:
Maybe the most concerning figure is the slight oversupply of pharmacists in the “specialized” category. Schools encourage pharmacy students to pursue lengthy additional training in the form of residencies. But while this may equip pharmacists with extensive experience, it may come at the expense of narrowing career choices.
Another breakdown of the data looks at the split between jobs available in a community setting vs. jobs on the institutional/hospital side. It might be surprising, given the consolidation going on in retail that more openings are on the community side.
The PDI is admittedly an imperfect measurement. The data is subjective, based upon information received from anonymous panelists across the U.S. But as a pharmacist who has written on career-related issues for many years, I have reminded readers that more objective data is hard to obtain.
We know, for example, about 140 pharmacy schools are currently operating in the U.S. We know that we graduate about 15,000 new pharmacists each year. Although now the overall data suggests a relative balance between available jobs and available pharmacists, some folks predict we are soaring toward an oversupply situation.
How Should We Use This Data?
One thing that pharmacists can be doing is to contemplate positioning themselves for management roles. Jobs in management are harder to fill. I suggest finding a good mentor, reading books on management and leadership, and keeping an open eye for opportunities within your organization to move up.
Another important consideration is your location. Pharmacists may want to pursue licensing in several states and think about their willingness to relocate as a part of their career strategy. The Q2 data from the PDI tell us that the highest demand for pharmacists is currently in Alaska, Mississippi and northern California. Lowest demand areas include Hawaii, Illinois, North Carolina, Nevada and Wyoming.
Finally, pharmacists need to look at their careers from an employer’s perspective. An employer looking to fill an important position will want to work with a reputable and experienced company like Pharmaceutical Strategies. Therefore, partnering with them in your own career planning and job search is a good idea.