Jul 10, 2015
17
2
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Pre-Medical
I start pharmacy school in a few weeks, but I've been having second thoughts. Similar to others, I am worried about the job outlook and debt. If I go to pharmacy school, I will have about 200k in student loans counting undergrad. I enjoy working in a pharmacy, but I am nervous about taking on such a debt in an unsure job market.

For the last few months, I've been contemplating doing something else. I have a BS in biology. I enjoy nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle. It would take about two and a half years for me to become a nutritionist. I would have significantly less debt, but also a much lower salary.

I am torn. I do not want to work for years and spend thousands of dollars only to find that there aren't any jobs available. However, I am already enrolled in a pharmacy program. I could use some advice.
 

gwarm01

10+ Year Member
Oct 7, 2009
2,459
3,236
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Pharmacist
You kind of spelled it out already. If I were you I would make a decision and do it fast.
 
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Lnsean

10+ Year Member
May 26, 2009
2,331
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Medical Student
if you love pharmacy then do it...if not don't go into 200k+ debt for it. simple. do you see yourself doing this for 30-40 years?
 
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Rukn

5+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Feb 24, 2012
331
257
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Pharmacist
if you love pharmacy then do it...if not don't go into 200k+ debt for it. simple. do you see yourself doing this for 30-40 years?
It's not about love, it's about being reasonable

Even CVS the most undesirable chain to work for (or tied first with Walgreens ) is being selective with their hiring.

You won't love anything if it puts you in debt and you can't get a chance to even practice it.
 
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Lnsean

10+ Year Member
May 26, 2009
2,331
1,540
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Medical Student
It's not about love, it's about being reasonable

Even CVS the most undesirable chain to work for (or tied first with Walgreens ) is being selective with their hiring.

You won't love anything if it puts you in debt and you can't get a chance to even practice it.
I'd never discourage anyone from pursuing their dream or goals. It's up to them to decide if it's worth it...not us.
 

stoichiometrist

7+ Year Member
Aug 2, 2011
2,190
2,178
There are other fields, i.e. computer science, accounting, finance, engineering, physician assistant, etc. that provide high pay, job prospects as good as pharmacy if not better, and a better work environment without you having to take out $200k+ in loans and spend another 4 years in school.
 
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winnguyen

5+ Year Member
Jun 1, 2013
51
14
Status
Pharmacist
Talk about this with someone that you trust. Right now your asking strangers on an anonymous internet chat room to make the biggest decision of your life for you.
 

med77

5+ Year Member
Feb 4, 2013
64
33
I start pharmacy school in a few weeks, but I've been having second thoughts. Similar to others, I am worried about the job outlook and debt. If I go to pharmacy school, I will have about 200k in student loans counting undergrad. I enjoy working in a pharmacy, but I am nervous about taking on such a debt in an unsure job market.

For the last few months, I've been contemplating doing something else. I have a BS in biology. I enjoy nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle. It would take about two and a half years for me to become a nutritionist. I would have significantly less debt, but also a much lower salary.

I am torn. I do not want to work for years and spend thousands of dollars only to find that there aren't any jobs available. However, I am already enrolled in a pharmacy program. I could use some advice.
I just started yesterday and am having the same fears/doubts. I'll graduate with $110k in student loans including accrued interest. Prior to school I'm debt free...so you can see my reluctance. So far (granted it's only been one day), it's been a whole lot of blowing BS up our bums about emerging careers and how the field is growing. I don't know where they're getting their stats to suggest that, because everything I read about and look up shows that it's stagnating. The state I'm in just granted pharmacists prescriber status so maybe there's some truth to it, but I'm very worried about finding a job in 4 years. It's already tough enough to find a pharmacy intern position as most corporations are cutting hours and funding.

I talked to my SO last night about alternatives. I'm nervous to withdraw and forgo what potentially could be a fairly high earning career, but I'm also so incredibly worried about this debt load and the job prospects. I don't want my life to turn out like those many underemployed lawyers out there.
 

gwarm01

10+ Year Member
Oct 7, 2009
2,459
3,236
Status
Pharmacist
I just started yesterday and am having the same fears/doubts. I'll graduate with $110k in student loans including accrued interest. Prior to school I'm debt free...so you can see my reluctance. So far (granted it's only been one day), it's been a whole lot of blowing BS up our bums about emerging careers and how the field is growing. I don't know where they're getting their stats to suggest that, because everything I read about and look up shows that it's stagnating. The state I'm in just granted pharmacists prescriber status so maybe there's some truth to it, but I'm very worried about finding a job in 4 years. It's already tough enough to find a pharmacy intern position as most corporations are cutting hours and funding.

I talked to my SO last night about alternatives. I'm nervous to withdraw and forgo what potentially could be a fairly high earning career, but I'm also so incredibly worried about this debt load and the job prospects. I don't want my life to turn out like those many underemployed lawyers out there.
They told my class about emerging careers when we had concerns about oversupply back in 2009. Still waiting for that butterfly to emerge from its cocoon.
 

BMBiology

temporarily banned~!
15+ Year Member
Feb 26, 2003
7,702
2,744
I just started yesterday and am having the same fears/doubts. I'll graduate with $110k in student loans including accrued interest. Prior to school I'm debt free...so you can see my reluctance. So far (granted it's only been one day), it's been a whole lot of blowing BS up our bums about emerging careers and how the field is growing. I don't know where they're getting their stats to suggest that, because everything I read about and look up shows that it's stagnating. The state I'm in just granted pharmacists prescriber status so maybe there's some truth to it, but I'm very worried about finding a job in 4 years. It's already tough enough to find a pharmacy intern position as most corporations are cutting hours and funding.

I talked to my SO last night about alternatives. I'm nervous to withdraw and forgo what potentially could be a fairly high earning career, but I'm also so incredibly worried about this debt load and the job prospects. I don't want my life to turn out like those many underemployed lawyers out there.
Pharmacist provider status? Are you talking about California. That is just a bunch of BS. It is very limited and until insurance company pays for it, it is just hype.

I have told this story before. I used to work in a trainer store. This one pharmacist graduated from my school 20 years earlier. I was telling him about MTM and how it would change our profession. He just laughed and shot back, "that is what they told me, too!"

Schools don't want you to drop out and get your money back. This is why they are blowing hot air up your and your classmates behind.


Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile app
 
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rph3664

7+ Year Member
Jul 5, 2010
2,465
366
Status
Pharmacist
OP, are you here, and what did you decide to do?

As things stand now, I'd go the dietitian route. That genuinely is an expanding field, even if you don't have a Jennifer Aniston haircut. :p
 
OP
L
Jul 10, 2015
17
2
Status
Pre-Medical
OP, are you here, and what did you decide to do?

As things stand now, I'd go the dietitian route. That genuinely is an expanding field, even if you don't have a Jennifer Aniston haircut. :p
I am leaning toward withdrawing. As the poster above said, I am nervous about leaving a field where I could potentially earn a good living. I think I would be happier in another field, but the uncertainty has stopped me from sending in the paperwork.
 
Jan 12, 2016
35
8
Status
Pharmacist
I work in Oregon where pharmacists do have provider status. One of the biggest changes so far is the ability for pharmacists to prescribe birth control in community pharmacy settings. Although it's a small step towards what pharmacists are capable of doing, it's still a step. Do not let others discourage you on possible shifts in the healthcare setting when it comes to pharmacy.

With that said, the job outlook depends on where you are willing to live. If you only want to practice in a state with numerous pharmacy schools and big cities, your job outlook may not be that great in the saturated areas. On the other hand, for Oregon, there is always, at the very least, a retail position open for a pharmacist (staff or manager). I get emails regularly of companies who are desperate to hire. Sometimes they are in the popular cities, most of the time they are in rural settings. If you are willing to be flexible with where you work, stick it out after graduating for the first few years, then apply to somewhere you truly want to be.

Pharmacy will always be there. Especially now that the baby boomers are coming to the elderly age. There will always be an opportunity. You just need to know where to find it and be willing to go there.
 

med77

5+ Year Member
Feb 4, 2013
64
33
I work in Oregon where pharmacists do have provider status. One of the biggest changes so far is the ability for pharmacists to prescribe birth control in community pharmacy settings. Although it's a small step towards what pharmacists are capable of doing, it's still a step. Do not let others discourage you on possible shifts in the healthcare setting when it comes to pharmacy.

With that said, the job outlook depends on where you are willing to live. If you only want to practice in a state with numerous pharmacy schools and big cities, your job outlook may not be that great in the saturated areas. On the other hand, for Oregon, there is always, at the very least, a retail position open for a pharmacist (staff or manager). I get emails regularly of companies who are desperate to hire. Sometimes they are in the popular cities, most of the time they are in rural settings. If you are willing to be flexible with where you work, stick it out after graduating for the first few years, then apply to somewhere you truly want to be.

Pharmacy will always be there. Especially now that the baby boomers are coming to the elderly age. There will always be an opportunity. You just need to know where to find it and be willing to go there.
That's encouraging. I just looked at the ADI for pharmacists in various states. SO and I would love to move to Alaska at some point, and their demand is at 4.5 right now. Current state I live in is a 3 and surrounding are close to 4. I just am so nervous that there won't be a job available upon graduation, but I'm also content with rural. SO and I worked in very isolated (I mean VERY isolated...like Barrow, AK isolated) communities previously so rural/isolated would almost be ideal for us.
 

lcow2004

10+ Year Member
Nov 11, 2008
136
43
New York
Status
Pharmacist
That's encouraging. I just looked at the ADI for pharmacists in various states. SO and I would love to move to Alaska at some point, and their demand is at 4.5 right now. Current state I live in is a 3 and surrounding are close to 4. I just am so nervous that there won't be a job available upon graduation, but I'm also content with rural. SO and I worked in very isolated (I mean VERY isolated...like Barrow, AK isolated) communities previously so rural/isolated would almost be ideal for us.
Honestly I think you have nothing to worry about. The key is to get work experience while you're in school. I would say work at least 1-2 shifts a month. Once you've developed a long term track record with an employer and have shown that you can do the work, you will be in high demand. I work and precept students all the time in one of the most saturated cities in the country. I always make every effort to keep my students after graduation and make them full time pharmacists because they've demonstrated themselves but that doesn't always happen because they often get snatched up by other employers. From what I've seen, the ones that have work experience always have multiple job offers lined up and have their pick of where they want to work and this is happening in a supposedly very saturated city. If you are open to other areas including rural, which sounds like you are, I'm sure you will have no problems if you are willing to get work experience while in school.
 
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Wickett

7+ Year Member
Mar 28, 2012
342
376
Status
Pharmacist
I start pharmacy school in a few weeks, but I've been having second thoughts. Similar to others, I am worried about the job outlook and debt. If I go to pharmacy school, I will have about 200k in student loans counting undergrad. I enjoy working in a pharmacy, but I am nervous about taking on such a debt in an unsure job market.

For the last few months, I've been contemplating doing something else. I have a BS in biology. I enjoy nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle. It would take about two and a half years for me to become a nutritionist. I would have significantly less debt, but also a much lower salary.

I am torn. I do not want to work for years and spend thousands of dollars only to find that there aren't any jobs available. However, I am already enrolled in a pharmacy program. I could use some advice.
It is definitely getting harder to find jobs, and I would be leery about starting now when many think if it comes to a head, many project it in 2020. However, this site has always been doom and gloom to the max, so take what you read here with a grain of salt.....it's a very small sample size of the actual profession. Read posts all the way to 7+ years ago and you will read similar things to today about the market being dead.

That being said, if you do start pharmacy now, I would only do it under these circumstances (my perspective is mainly retail based):

1. Go to an established school, not a new diploma mill. While your school doesn't have to be tops in the nation, you want to go to one with a good rep and an established record/network with hospitals and chains in your state to land a job afterwards. Now with more students pumped out, employers are looking more and more at where you went to school. They can be more picky and trust me, they will. If you can only get into an overly expensive lower tier school, I would improve my resume and reapply to a better school next year....it simply isn't worth the money and risk, to me.

2. Bust your ass/don't think you can just show up to class and graduate and be handed a job. If you want clinical/hospital, get good grades, have leadership in clubs, present a research poster, etc. If you want retail, get a job by at least summer after P1 and make a good impression and work at least several shifts a month. With retail, work exp trumps being in all those school clubs, and is how most people get a job now after graduation. Don't just go home and study and have no exp and expect a job to be waiting for you.

3. Be flexible. Gone are the days of multiple job offers for having a pulse and a degree. Be willing to move or take on a starting job that isn't ideal. The key is to start working soon after grad. Just realize it may take years before you land a job and location you really want (aka what most people have to do when starting a career in general). Location especially you may have to sacrifice starting out.

4. Realize if you do land a job, now the real work begins. Esp in retail, most will only offer 32 hr/part time float starting out unless it's an area desperate for pharmacists. Consider if your lifestyle and loan payments are doable if worse case, you only get 32 hrs. Also be willing to drive to pick up extra work and don't just do the bare minimum...if you show you want to be a help and not a pain in the ass, managers will want you when a full time home store position pops up.

If you can do these things, you should still be able to find something. Just know that it will now take much more work and effort than it used to. If you truly like the job and are confident you will work to separate yourself, then go for it, under the right circumstances. If you just see pharmacy as a big paycheck and want to just punch the clock at school and work, run.
 
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giga

U.S. Public Health Service
10+ Year Member
Aug 23, 2005
767
1,267
On the land and the sea for humanity
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Pharmacist
That's encouraging. I just looked at the ADI for pharmacists in various states. SO and I would love to move to Alaska at some point, and their demand is at 4.5 right now. Current state I live in is a 3 and surrounding are close to 4. I just am so nervous that there won't be a job available upon graduation, but I'm also content with rural. SO and I worked in very isolated (I mean VERY isolated...like Barrow, AK isolated) communities previously so rural/isolated would almost be ideal for us.
If you are willing to work in rural areas, you shouldn't be concerned about finding a job. For one thing, Indian Health Service is always hiring pharmacists. They also offer loan repayment for pharmacists, even in today's current market. Not to mention, APhA's current strategy for trying to get pharmacist provider status on the federal level is by focusing on rural underserved areas: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/592

There really is still a lot of work out there for a PharmD, although some of it is in public service jobs that don't pay as much as retail (but still a decent salary, usually starting around the high $80,000s with promotion potential to those six-figure salaries), and other jobs will require additional postgraduate training (residency or fellowship). And there are still retail and hospital jobs out there, just not always in the most desirable locations. The ones in the more saturated markets require a bit more effort (connections, grit, etc.) to get, but they still exist. Salaries are stagnating, but you'll still make a decent living as a pharmacist, and should be able to make 6-figures within the first few years of your career (if not the first).

As long as you like the idea of doing pharmacy-related work, I say go for it. Even though the times of where just having a pulse and a license would get you several job offers is over, there is still plenty of work out there that pays well, especially in rural underserved areas.