Pharmacist: Still a good career to pursue?

Discussion in 'Pre-Pharmacy' started by CogNeuroGuy, 09.30.14.

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  1. CogNeuroGuy

    CogNeuroGuy 2+ Year Member

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    I have a question which I believe has been answered many times in the past (there are a lot of posts from years ago I have seen). I wanted to ask some questions that I hope some of you can answer for me. According to the BLS data, pharmacists have a 14% job growth rate between 2012-2022. Psychologists for example have about a 12% growth rate, so it is about as fast as average. I also have read many of the horror stories about how poor the actual retail pharmacy environment is. I used to work plenty of odd end retail and customer service jobs and frankly couldn't stand them. I remember I had my roommate bring up some of my medication so I could handle the stress of being a manager for Blockbuster (when they were all closing down).

    Questions:

    1. Is retail pharmacy the "major" source for pharmacist jobs? (I understand there are clinical pharmacy jobs, but the last time I check, they make up 5% of yearly available jobs)

    2. Is getting into pharmacy for the purposes of high pay a good enough reason to go?

    3. How fluctuating is the actual job market? (I read a post about pharmacists being laid off left and right at major retail firms).

    4. Admissions: How competitive is it these days?

    5. Ultimately, is the amount of time and money put into becoming a pharmacist worth it?

    The last one is pretty broad and subjective, but I am sort of in limbo at the moment. My background is very diverse. I have an undergrad in sociology and psychology as well as a master's in cognitive neuroscience with a good deal of research (with publications, abstracts, etc.) in clinical neuropsychology. I have yet to take really any of the required pre-reqs specifically for pharmacy, but that can be remedied at a local 2-year college. I was a musician for over 15 years and left the industry to pursue the aforementioned academics. My goal then was to become a psychologist, but after working in it, doing research (which I really didn't care for in the end) and doing psychometrics, I found that I didn't enjoy it like I thought I would have. I am a pretty nervous person, even as a musician I would always have to take an anti-anxiety pill before an audition or for some concerts I performed.

    I am 26, so I know that if I put in the 2-3 years of time to complete the pre-reqs, I will be fine. My overall undergrad GPA is a 3.24, my graduate GPA should be a 3.7(ish) by the time I graduate this coming May. My husband is a pharmacist from Brazil and will be attending Nova's Pharm.D. (International) program, so, when we move to the Miami area, I will be left without a clear path for a career as well as $92K in debt. The only plan I have at the moment is to try to pick up some playing and teaching gigs around Miami and get back into music, but I have done very very well in neuroscience, taking advanced/graduate work in many neuroscience courses without having any knowledge in physics, chemistry or biology. So, academically, I am a pretty flexible person and I know if I were in the Pharm.D. program, I would be able to learn the material and do great at it. Becoming a psychologist is a very demanding and competitive process by which <5% of applicants are admitted to a program (e.g. n=8-12 people at most in one year). The salary for a psychologist can range from the low $50's to the upper $80's depending on years of experience, but out of the gate is most likely in the high $50's (at least statistically speaking, I don't deal with outliers or exceptions).

    So, there you have it, my "brief" quarter-life crisis in a nutshell.
     
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  3. Sugoi Travis

    Sugoi Travis 2+ Year Member

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  4. CogNeuroGuy

    CogNeuroGuy 2+ Year Member

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    Awesome! Thanks again for the feedback. I have spent hours combing through the various threads. I have decisions I will need to make, perhaps taking some years off of school after I finish the M.S. this May will help give me some perspective. For someone who studies and researches human behavior, I have terrible coping skills, so I would think with such a high-intense setting such as retail pharmacy, I would struggle dearly.
     
  5. stoichiometrist

    stoichiometrist 5+ Year Member

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    1) Yes. Retail pharmacists account for about 2/3 of pharmacist jobs.

    2) No. There are other fields that pay well and do not require an additional $150k+ debt ($92k in your case, which isn't bad) and 4 years of schooling. Computer science is one such field that can net you as much as a pharmacist in salary without the additional loans and schooling. There is a shortage of computer programmers, so it is not uncommon to start out with $70-120k/year straight out of school.

    3) Maybe someone else can chip in on more details. The number of pharmacy school graduates has doubled in the last 10-15 years, so saturation will be here for a while.

    4) Not competitive at all if you do not mind the quality of the school and/or are willing to move out of state.

    5) Only if you absolutely love the profession and are okay with working in chain retail if all your other options fall out.
     
    Last edited: 09.30.14
  6. kaidou1412

    kaidou1412 2+ Year Member

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    Actually getting into pharmacy school is not as competitive as before because of too many new pharmacy schools. Other than top-tier pharmacy schools like UNC, UCSF, Purdue, etc.. pretty much you have a good chance with 2.8 GPA and 50 PCAT (if you apply broadly). How do I know? I've seen it all the time last year.
     
  7. oldstock

    oldstock Banned Banned

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    I have seen many on SDN with 10s - 20s percentile on the PCAT....
     
  8. ramizlol

    ramizlol 2+ Year Member

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    Second this... I called LECOM's campus in Florida, they said their average is in 40's... I might have heard it wrong but if i did hear it correctly than it is pretty sad.
     
  9. oldstock

    oldstock Banned Banned

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    ^^ this and they will keep opening more schools until all u can do with your pharmd degree is working at McD or WalMart.... (sigh)
     
  10. PCOM_Pharmacy_2015

    PCOM_Pharmacy_2015

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    i don't know why you guys keep telling people not to go to pharmacy schools. If you encourage all excellent students to be pharmacists, we will have a future generation of all good pharmacists. Stop scaring people!!!
     
  11. Vatic

    Vatic Account on Hold Account on Hold

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  12. fewaopi

    fewaopi 7+ Year Member

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    Read this: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119634/pharmacy-school-crisis-why-good-jobs-are-drying

    You will find endless threads and increasing amount of threads devoted to this topic, and it's not coming from nowhere, it's happening now.

    1. Retail is the major source of pharmacy jobs, I'd say least 70% of them are but it depends on your area. Some states have industry, more hospitals, businesses with other opportunities outside retail but nationally, I'd say well over, maybe 80%.
    2. Going into a profession for high pay is a fine reason. Don't think just about enjoyment. You have to pay bills, put food on table, raise family perhaps, you make dozens of financial decisions a day around money so you're gonna need more money. But expect pharmacist salary to go down or be frozen which I'm starting to see. There's nothing wrong with entering a profession for high pay.
    3. Job market isn't good. There are more layoffs than new hires. Some companies in retail will age discriminate, it all depends and can fluctuate. Be flexible when you need it though.
    4. Not competitive, if you have the money and willing to take astronomical debt, all you need is a pen for your signature, very easy to get in.
    5. Only worth going into pharmacy if you will have no debt when you graduate. Otherwise don't do it. That can depend on which school you go to, private, in-state, and scholarships (which I wish I focused more on)

    Ask is it a good idea to enter a field with a poor outlook year by year to make tens of thousands more but also take in more debt to the 92K you have?
     
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  13. kaidou1412

    kaidou1412 2+ Year Member

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    This is the article many of us should read... Look at what has happened to the law schools. It's all about supply and demand. I'm very sad to see this happening.
     
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  14. PharmD2011_Chi

    PharmD2011_Chi

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    As a practicing Clinical Pharmacist and preceptor to students from Chicago area Pharmacy schools.. I speak from experience.

    In Chicago, jobs are sparse. Actually.. it's pretty pathetic. Residency doesn't guarantee anything and retail is so saturated in all suburbs and the city. It is extremely difficult to compete now against 150-200+ grads in each of now, 7.... yes, 7 schools of pharmacy.

    I hate being discouraging, but if you're not willing to or ready to move out of state... be very careful. It is a risk that you have to take into account, especially in the Midwest. I know from colleagues that this is the trend on both coasts as well.

    Being >$150k in debt sucks.. just saying.
     
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  15. Sgriz97

    Sgriz97

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    All I have been hearing recently is how saturated the pharmacist career is becoming, More pharmacy schools are opening, and the older schools are increasing the amount of seats for their classes. I am a high school senior and reading about all of this is making me nervous to go into the profession, but I believe in myself and know that this is what I want to do.
     
  16. kaidou1412

    kaidou1412 2+ Year Member

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    make sure to shadow, work at retail/hospital pharmacy first, or how would you know that is what you want to do? good luck:)
     
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  17. owlbright

    owlbright Chubbic Bowman 2+ Year Member

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    Make sure you have thick skin and know how to balance your mood at work. Techs at retails get cussed by patients all the time and you could do nothing but smile back. Also be alert to your finances and minimize your debts/loans.
     
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  18. lisinopril

    lisinopril Account on Hold Account on Hold 2+ Year Member

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    close to 14,000 new graduates pumping out at this time every year....and we have approximately 2000 jobs openning....Do the math and you will see if pharmacy is still a good career.
     
  19. TactFR44

    TactFR44

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    Pharmacy is nothing like it used to be. If you look through the countless threads online you will be able to see what people are talking about. I know many of my friends who just aimlessly applied to Pharmacy school and got in because of the aforementioned reasons you described. Is it worth it? Well I guess the better question is will you be happy with your decision. The only person that can answer this is yourself. From personal experience, I realized after shadowing and researching that Pharmacy school was just not worth the time (4 year Doctorate), money (4 year Doctorate), and eventual job (most likely retail, slim chance of clinical position, less patient contact which was something I needed). I took a gap year and looked into other health professions and figured out where I would be HAPPY. After undergrad, I was similar to you, looking at careers in the form of monetary pay out as the primary motivator. Incorrect. This will lead to a life of misery. Find your passion. Explore other health professions. Don't feel like you need to rush your life. Rushed decisions usually don't end well.
     
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  20. PharmDCandidate2014

    PharmDCandidate2014 Organ Donor

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    Times are really changing right now. Automation is SLOWLY creeping in to the retail setting, and it's only a matter of time before it becomes a significant player. Having said that, your concerns/questions are absolutely valid:

    All I can say is: shadow, shadow, and shadow. If this means getting technician work at $10/hour for a few months, DO IT. By the way, please don't attend pharmacy technician school - the certification test does not require it! Talk to the pharmacists and see what their opinions are on the field. Chances are, they'll tell you it's all a game of musical chairs, hot potato, whatever you wanna call it. But, if that's the environment you thrive in - to each his or her own.

    Not sure what the salary will look like, but I can assure you 6 figures will be a number of the past. SIMPLE economics dictates this: supply/demand/equilibrium. As the SUPPLY of pharmacists INCREASE, by A LOT, with decreased demand, the equilibrium will shift toward the LOWER-INCOME side. If you want to get that 6 figure salary, I'm pretty sure you'll have to pursue the residency (PGY-1/PGY-2/fellowship) training to obtain that really rare clinical job, but with that amount of years invested...wouldn't it be better if you just went to medical school? Those 7 years are exactly the same number of years that a physician would pursue if interested in Internal Medicine, Family medicine, or something similar along those lines.

    If you want articles that aren't considerably biased, try ones written for the NIH. For example: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3930253/ is somewhere good to start. I find that the Pharmacy Times gives off a rather optimistic outlook of the future rather than being realistic and using hard-data to support their stand.

    Keep posting questions for all of us - it helps us all get a better insight believe it or not! Good luck :)
     
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  21. DesertPT

    DesertPT ` 2+ Year Member

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    Ya except you can't get into medical school with a 2.8 and 10th percentile on the MCAT. You could apply to every DO school in the country and still not get in with those numbers.

    Heck even for PT school, where you have a lot higher percentage of getting in somewhere than you do for med school, if you had a 2.8 and 10th percentile on the GRE and you applied to every program in the country that had no 3.0 minimum and no GRE minimum (of which there are only a few) you still probably wouldn't get in.

    You guys saying there are people with 10th percentile PCATs and 2.8's that have gotten into pharmacy school is really saddening. :( I'm not knocking the profession by any means, but I'm definitely knocking what the pharmacy educational industry has come to.
     
    Last edited: 11.05.14
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  22. DesertPT

    DesertPT ` 2+ Year Member

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    Excellent article. Doesn't go into a lot of detail on job prospects, but gives pretty solid proof of the unreasonable growth of pharmacy school tuition.
     
  23. SoCalPharm

    SoCalPharm

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    Earlier in this thread people are mentioning how the standards to get into school are lower.

    I am trying to apply to UMD, I did so as Early Decision, they said everything was good except your PCAT Score of 45. and bumped me to regular pool
    Verb 43
    Bio 17
    Chem 76
    Reading 64
    Math 27

    (My gpa is 3.55, still have a 4 classes to go)

    What do you guys think about my shot? Take the pcat again?
     
  24. TactFR44

    TactFR44

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    I'm not an expert on Pharmacy admissions but it's kind of a no brainer to retake your admissions exam if you tanked your admissions exam...
     
  25. kaidou1412

    kaidou1412 2+ Year Member

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    all you need to work on is Bio and Math. Unlike Reading and Verbal, they can be studied in short period of time.
     

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