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Pharmacists in the US

Discussion in 'Pre-Pharmacy' started by P'??sT, Apr 10, 2004.

  1. P'??sT

    P'??sT Student Pharmacist
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    Hi all,

    I'm a Pharmacy student from Australia. I am looking at working in the US for a while after I finish my degree.

    I just have a few questions. Firstly, while I was over there late last year, it seems that Pharmacists don't really consult customers over there? Or they don't really seem approachable unless you specifically ask for one. Pretty much all the Pharmacists I saw working were at the back or behind the counter not really accessible.

    Over here, at the moment, only qualified Pharmacists are allowed to set up a store whereas over in the states, I know chains (eg Walgreens) are allowed to open stores even though they aren't Pharmacists, but hire them for work. I would assume some of the smaller shops are Pharmacist owned. Is there a difference working in either environment?

    Also, how does the Pharmacy course work over there? ie. how long does it take to complete and what is the average age of the graduates?

    Lastly, what sort of wage can be expected working over there? In terms of both before and after tax?

    Thanks in advance,

    Kev
     
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  3. pharmd-08

    pharmd-08 Member
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    Hi, let's exchange information then. I was wondering about how pharmacists in Australia work too. I read in the Australia Immigration website that pharmacist is in demand in Australia. How "hot" is the profession there? What type of job do they work there? How much the common salary is? and How to get a licence?

    In the US, pharmacists are also in demand.To be a pharmacist here typically you will need 6-7 years of school. Pharmacy is a professional school and your degree will be Pharm.D (Doctor of Pharmacy). For your undergraduate you can major in whatever you want but you have to complete the prerequisites. They are usually general chemistry, general biology, physics sequence, organic chemistry sequence, microeconomics, speech, anatomy, english compositions, microbiology, statistics, and other liberal education courses. Currently, as long as you satisfy the prereqs, you can get in without a bachelor's degree. But it is likely that they are going to need a bachelor degree in a few future years because the application pool is getting tougher and tougher.
    For example, in the last three years, the number of applicants for 120 seats have tripled, from about 360 two years ago, to 600 last year, and about 900-1000 this year. It's going to be an upward trend.
    For more information you can check www.pharmcas.org , it is the website for centralized application.

    In terms of salary, I heard that the biggest one is in retail, the statistics say that a typical pharmacist in retail chain can make about $75-95 k/year. For clinical pharmacist, it is going to be a little lower.
    I hope this helps.
     
  4. P'??sT

    P'??sT Student Pharmacist
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    Yes, Pharmacists are in high demand over here as well. Job rate for graduates is like 98%. I reckon the 2% choose to do something different.

    Type of jobs fall in two main catagory.
    -Community/Retail Pharmacists: more people getting their prescriptions. Pharmacists dispenses and consults patients. Patients sometimes just need consultation for common illness eg colds and the Pharmacists can recommend a product (non-prescription) or offer alternative course of action
    -Hospital Pharmacists: I'm pretty sure were be the same as a clinical Pharmacists. More making up products, actually working out dosages for patients instead of doctor, recommending products and consulting with doctors (and patients) etc.

    I believe you can expect $70k AUD in mainstream, which isn't a lot compared to you guys considering a big bite of that will be taxed. If you own a Pharmacy owner however, you can easily get into and well beyond the seven figures (AUD) depending on how successful the business is.

    As for getting a licence, I have no idea...

    Can you (or someone) please try and answer some more of my original questions.

    Thanks
     
  5. LVPharm

    LVPharm SDN Moderator
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    If the pharmacists did not at least offer counseling to patients on new prescriptions, they are violating a provision of a piece of US federal law called OBRA '90, and state pharmacy law. Here in Nevada, we have to at least offer counseling (Nevada Administrative Code 639.707 if anyone cares to look it up ;)), and if it's refused, it's now recorded via electronic means...we used to have patients sign a refusal slip and the pharmacist would initial it. Now...this is what's supposed to happen. I have seen some "green" pharmacists not make the effort at all, except to maybe say how a medication should be taken...basically a brief read of the label and accessory labels, reiterating the prescriber's directions. It's their license and their potential lawsuit.

    As far as differences between chain and independent pharmacies, I can't speak of independents from experience because I've never worked in one. But my current preceptor just left a job at an independent. Less pay, high prescription volume (needed to make a profit), and lack of any real automation to keep up with that high volume was what he dealt with. His was the only independent/compounding pharmacy in his California Mojave Desert community, and a community fixture...so they had loyal customers and lots of referrals, so he was always busy. He "escaped" to a grocery store pharmacy to relax, a bit ;).
     
  6. P'??sT

    P'??sT Student Pharmacist
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    Yeah, but taht's with a prescription. Over here, we also get lots of patients without prescriptions that have general problems and just have questions or need counselling on how they can improve their health. We can either recommend them a product or a alternative course of theropy. Maybe it was just what I encounted. I remember going in to a NY Pharmacy needing some cream for a bit of skin problem. Asking for his recommendation, "[Insert Complex Name] in aisle three", was the only response I got.

    So it seems over in the states, you are better off working in a chain. Over here, since ONLY Pharmacists can open up stores, we don't have them huge chains. Only the independent ones really. They may or may not change though.
     
  7. LVPharm

    LVPharm SDN Moderator
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    Sorry, I think I misunderstood that first question there Kev ;)

    I think counseling as it pertains to OTC products really does depend on the policies of the particular chain, the workload of the pharmacist, and the pharmacist's willingness to come out and do what he is supposed to be doing. I intern at a Vons (a supermarket chain) pharmacy, and we basically have to ask customers that even walk into the OTC area if they need any help. We have "secret shoppers" that come in and grade employees on their customer service, so there is some incentive there in the form of bonuses. Most pharmacists I know do come out and help patients with an OTC selection. After all, we are trained to counsel on the most common OTC meds in school (cough/cold, allergy, pain relief, etc). It's the one area where pharmacists can actually help a patient make therapeutic decisions and avoid problems associated with misuse of OTC meds.
     
  8. P'??sT

    P'??sT Student Pharmacist
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    Gotcha LVPharm. Guess it's not that much different then.

    Over here, most Pharmacists work for a independent Pharmacies and aim to open up their own business when they get enough capital (mega incomes when you own one). I guess over in the states, most Pharmacists don't look at doing this as they are mostly chain owned. However, I think because you guys seem to get a higher wage, maybe owners don't get as much as over here (since anyone can open one up)

    There's debate at the moment whether or not to allow chains to open up Pharmacies as well. One of the main factors was that the quality of service would not be the same, and the role of a Pharmacists would be more like the "check out person" in a supermarket. Also, the fact that Pharmacists may not be treated with the same professionism both from the store and the shoppers. I'm surprised your chain encourages active counsultation. After all, as you say, that's what we're taught, and the area where we can make the biggest difference using our knowledge.
     
  9. jdpharmd?

    jdpharmd? Turning lead into gold
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    I'm not a finance major or anything, but I think 70k AUD (Aus pharmacist salary) is about 54k USD. Or, if you go the other way, 85k USD (US pharmacist salary) is about 110k AUD. Seven figures is.. well still a lot, no matter what currency it's in. :)
     
  10. LVPharm

    LVPharm SDN Moderator
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    Sounds like pharmacy in the US about 20-30 years ago. One of the pharmacists I worked with used to own two pharmacies in Santa Barbara, CA and Santa Maria, CA. When he graduated from USC pharmacy school in the 60s, everyone got into pharmacy for the entrepreneurial possibilities. For the most part those days are long gone here in the US, except for the current interest in starting up independent compounding pharmacies. You guys must have powerful pharmacy guilds and government support to keep the status quo. We never had that, regrettably...and we still don't.
     
  11. pharmd-08

    pharmd-08 Member
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    I was curious, which uni do you go in Australia Kev? I was searching in some schools' website and I didn't find too many pharmacy schools there. In Perth I found Curtin and then Monash University for Melbourne. From what you described, it sounds like there are no major differences between pharmacist duties in the US and in Australia.
     
  12. P'??sT

    P'??sT Student Pharmacist
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    Yeah, thats right jdpharm. I have heard of Pharmacy owners in big malls that make $500k AUD. Early seven figures would be from Pharmacies in the more quiet roads.

    That's an interesting insight there LVPharm. We do have a powerful Pharmacy Guild that works closely with the govenment. However, the power of the chains that want ownerships is also very strong. They have always wanted to open up Pharmacies in the past, but it's getting big at the moment (in the press etc). It's only a matter of time I reckon.

    pharmd, I go to the Victorian College of Pharmacy. It was a independent school, but several years back it joined up with Monash Univeristy (as you mentioned which teaches everything else from Med to Law to Business to Arts etc) to share resources. Thus, its more known as Monash University now. We should have seven Pharmacy schools I believe, one for each state.
     

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