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Pharmacy Commentary

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Hermes 2000

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The economy is deep in recovery. You seek employment stability and so you consider a career in healthcare. Pharmacy appears respectable. And so you hop on the internet, mouse over to Google, type in "pharmacy" and find yourself at Student Doctor Network. You navigate through the threads and end up here. Good. I am a 2012 graduate and the following is my commentary concerning pharmacy. Continue reading for stark feedback on pharmacy academia and pharmacy employment.

Let us begin with the nature of the job itself. Major options for pharmacists essentially boil down to the following: retail, hospital, clinical specialist, and industry. Retail pharmacy is what it is. There are countless blogs and narratives populating corners of the internet enunciating the calamity of retail pharmacy. I can't add much more. Hospital is a popular choice because it offers respite from inimical retail conditions. That was then. Now, it is more difficult to obtain employment in a hospital. The advent of new technology is decreasing need for pharmacist and hospitals are now beginning to require new hospital pharmacist to complete PGY1 residences. What's a residency? PGY stands for "post graduate year", the number "1" indicates year one. Pharmacy students complete residencies to better familiarize themselves with clinical aspects of pharmacy. The PGY1 year is a general residency meaning that residents rotate throughout different subject areas. Residents then have the option to continue on to a PGY2 residency. PGY2 residencies are purposed for specialization into a clinical pharmacist. Clinical pharmacists can specialize in oncology pharmacy, transplant pharmacy, infectious disease pharmacy and &c. The clinical pharmacist route gained much popularity during its inception around the year 2000. And so many pharmacy graduates went this route. For them, the move was beneficial because they at least had the promise of employment post residency. Things have changed. The number of pharmacy students applying for PGY1 residencies now significantly outnumbers available residency locations. Additionally, pharmacists who completed PGY1 and PGY2 residencies in the early 2000s are still young. There isn't an age continuum. Across the board they're in their 30s, well removed from the peace of retirement. One could therefore lie in wait for years for a clinical pharmacist job opportunity to arise. Do keep in mind that pharmacy residents work long hours only to be compensated less than half salary. Industry is now popular. Many industry fellows I met at ASHP midyear were elated to work for the pharmaceutical industry because they are not burdened with patient interaction. School connections are important for breaking into the industry and southern pharmacy schools are devoid of such connections. Attend pharmacy school in the northeast should you want to work in industry or otherwise do your homework and attend pharmacy placement service (PPS) at midyear well prepared to wow industry employers.

CNN Money's "Best Jobs in America" ranked pharmacy as number nine on the list of top professions in 2006. Pharmacy fell to number thirteen in 2009. And remarkably, pharmacy didn't make it onto CNN Money's 2010 list. It is astonishing that in four years pharmacy fell from number nine to completely out of the top one-hundred ranking. Especially considering that the top 50 career options have stayed relatively constant. Such declines lead one to question if certain factors are having a direct influence.

Below is table 1 and figure 1 pulled from an article in the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education (see: Walton et al.). Table 1 separated states into different quartiles based on pharmacist per population ≥ 65 years of age. Quartile 1 represents states that had the lowest number of pharmacist per population ≥ 65 years of age. Notice Florida highlighted in yellow. Observe that it is in quartile 1. According to this data, Florida had three colleges of pharmacy (COP) in the year 2000 and four COPs in the year 2009. Presently, there are six Florida COPs: University Of Florida COP, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) COP, Nova Southeastern University COP, Palm Beach Atlantic University COP, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) COP, and University Of South Florida COP. A total of 4,844 pharmacists graduated between the years 2000-2009. Currently, UF COP's graduation class has ballooned to approximately 300 graduates per year. Summating this along with an estimated average of 100 graduates per year from the other five schools and the number of graduates equates to 800 graduates per year; meaning that in Florida new pharmacists are graduating yearly in numbers proportional to approximately 16.5% of the total number of graduates over a nine-year time span. Keep in mind that 800 graduates per year is a conservative estimate.

30pcZ.png


Figure 1 below is a composite graphic representing the total number of graduates (bar graph) and the total number of schools producing graduates (line graph). Note the red arrow marking a significant change in the slope of total schools producing graduates. Correlations don't prove cause and effect. But one can't ignore the climb in COPs in 2006 imbibing with pharmacy's decline in the CNN Money's Best Jobs in America ranking.

taqEr.png


Those considering pharmacy school are no doubt curious of the academic rigors and expectations. And so I'll expand on my experience at UF COP. First year studies centered on biochemistry, microbiology, and other basic sciences that could've (and should've) been pre-requisite course material. First year was time wasted; time spent during year one of the curricula could've been used to alleviate the crowded academic space of year two. Every bit of primary pharmaceutical knowledge (all of pharmacology, dose optimization/pharmacokinetics, statistics and other pertinent classes such as pharmacotherapy) was compacted within second year. This is quite distressing considering that students are expected to grasp the science of pharmacy within the one year time frame of the second academic year. First half of third year focused on pharmacy law and the philosophy of evidenced based medicine. Second part of third year marked the beginning of rotations. First half of fourth year entailed completing rotations. Pharmacotherapy VI and extracurricular classes finished up the second part of fourth year.

Rotations are freshest in my mind and I can attest that they are not up to par. Pharmacy students are supposed to grow (even blossom) on rotations. Unfortunately an environment for such transformation is not provided on rotations. Majority of the rotations I had the displeasure to traipse through were nothing more than free labor. Not even technician work; just pure free labor. Below are brief summaries of the worst.
Omnicare. This rotation site bills itself as an ambulatory care rotation. Lies. Students are placed in an Omnicare warehouse and instructed to place stickers on bags day long. No patient interaction. That's it. Period.

Medication Therapy Management (MTM) Call Center. This rotation is a student-ran call center. Approximately twelve students are assigned to this rotation at two month intervals - the largest number of students per rotation. The actual work of MTM is not unsavory; it's straightforward. It is the work environment that is inhospitable. MTM preceptors collude with human resources (a singular blonde woman) to beat rotation students into submission through threats and fear tactics.

St. Mary's Hospital in West Palm Beach, FL: St. Mary's Hospital is a hospital populated with kind doctors and nurses. The problem is the pharmacy manager who is preceptor for all rotation pharmacy students. The preceptor of this rotation is a horrendous man who takes his frustrations out on students; I learned absolutely nothing there and his constant irate attitude made the work environment a hell-on-earth.
Words can't describe the level of shear disappointment I have in my university for knowingly placing students in significantly subpar rotation sites.

Only two of my rotations were worth their tuition: Veterans Affair (VA) and the Ft. Lauderdale HIV rotation. To be fair not all rotations are trash worthy. Students who rotated with sites affiliated with UF COP (id. est. Shands or extensions of Shands) were paired with preceptors accustomed to having students and thus had a genuine concern to ensure that their students were academically challenged. It is the rotations at private institutions (retail & private hospitals) that students are used solely for remedial tasks. It's cheaper to have rotation students' check for expires, place stickers on bags, fill prescriptions and pick up trash than to employ others to do so. Many UF COP students aren't exposed to quality rotations due to the school's enormous student body of approximately three hundred students. There are too many students to place. Fortunate ones are placed at locations willing to teach students and the rest are dropped in the morass of free labor. Whilst studying for the MPJE, I laughed at Florida Statute 64B16-26.2032 paragraph 7-(a) which reads, "The pharmacist shall willingly accept the responsibility for professional guidance and training of the intern and be able to devote time to preceptor training sessions and to instruction of the intern." Paragraph 6-(e) reads "No pharmacist may be responsible for the supervision of more than one intern at any one time." Yeah right!

Without hesitation I give my UF COP collective rotation experiences a D grade. Rotations are purposed to reinforce knowledge and prepare one for licensing examinations, residency interviews, job interviews &c. The blatant disregard of teaching and the silent agreement between school and preceptor sites (providing students for grunt work) is enough to irritate. Peers of mine have stated that they were completely unprepared for residency interviews relative to students from other schools and so were subsequently passed over for opportunities. A great deal of time and money is expended on rotations. Rotations are expensive. They will make you broke. UF COP has too many students to place and so students are placed at unfavorable sites. Driving literally all over the state to different cities and commuting extended distances burned a whole through my wallet. UF's advice is to stay with friends and family; this of course assumes that one has friends and family located in areas that will satisfy rotation requirements. UF COP has no housing options for students. The question "what am I paying for" ran across my mind many times throughout rotations. I spoke to students at midyear who expressed that their rotations were more structured in that they had greater availability of locations and housing options. Some students were fortunate enough to attend schools up north that had partnerships with industry companies that provided five weeks housing for students interested in industry. Not at UF COP. You are on your own.

Academics aside, it is equally (if not, more) important for a university to have respectable partnerships that students can take advantage of. I didn't realize this until I attended ASHP midyear. There I met students from other schools fortunate enough to attend a university in tune with their needs. Progressive schools up north, for example, recognize the importance of ASHP midyear (all the pharmacy jobs condense at ASHP midyear) and thus facilitate student ASHP midyear attendance by either ensuring that no exams fall on the week of ASHP midyear or by manipulating the school's academic calendar so that a break falls on the week of ASHP midyear. UF COP does not do this. These same schools go a step further by having electronic portfolios than can be electronically sent to prospective employers and these academic institutions make sure to educate students on other jobs outside the realm of clinical pharmacy. UF COP does not do this.

Importance of ASHP midyear can't be stressed enough. A university isn't worth its tuition if it doesn't make it simple and easy for students to attend the full ASHP midyear event (especially while on rotations). Other universities understand the unfavorable employment situation that their pharmacy students are facing and so ensure that students are rightfully educated. UF COP apparently didn't receive the memo.

UF COP has three satellite campus sites but the bulk of the students attend the Gainesville campus. Gainesville is in complete isolation. No more than ever is it important to network with potential employers given the current distasteful pharmacy employment market. Career day at UF COP was laughable. I witnessed the UF COP career fair dwindle in employer attendance for four consecutive years.

UF COP leaders are out of touch; there actions are those of employees bidding their time until retirement. Pharmacists were in great demand when they were recent graduates. During their heyday one could graduate from pharmacy school with employment offers in hand. This is most certainly not the case now. I suspect this is the first time that pharmacy is experiencing a condition of supply equaling demand and UF COP is not prepared. UF COP has no job resource network. Not even basic classes to explain employment opportunities. UF COP needs to provide a rudimentary class that explains in very small words the following: pharmacist employment opportunities (there's more than just retail and clinical pharmacy); how to apply for employment opportunities (UF COP touts clinical residences and yet provide absolutely no guidance on applying to prospective residencies); what events to attend (attend midyear twice; once to prepare for the second time); who to meet (UF COP is not well networked). The aforementioned are in place at other schools that recognize the crowded pharmacy job market and thus provide resources for students. UF COP used to ride on the wings of its national ranking (which recently slipped). Simply going to a well recognized academic institution is no longer copacetic.

My commentary of the pharmacy employment market and pharmacy academia is...strong. But consider the time and financial investment required to obtain a pharmacy license. Six years is the minimum to become a licensed pharmacist. Most students will go into major financial debt ($100,000+) to pay for pharmacy school. And tuition is increasing. It is only natural to expect a payoff post pharmacy school. One attends a university to obtain employment. And universities that hinder or do not facilitate this process deserve criticism.

New pharmacy schools opened across the nation within the past decade in response to the pharmacist demand thus increasing the number of pharmacy gradates. Pharmacy graduates are outpacing pharmacy job growth. From an employer perspective this is fantastic news because the ball is now in the employer court. Negotiating with potential employees is no longer a necessity. Today's pharmacist supply ensures that there will be pharmacist around the corner thirsty for employment. Does academia care? Large pharmacy schools have worked hard to build up their student body to the point that student body contraction would ruin the budget. It's business. Pharmacy students are hamsters providing movement to the academic money wheel. UF COP accepts roughly three hundred students, each paying approximately $100,000 for education which amounts to $30 Million over the course of the education. The school can't financially afford to decrease the number of students. Eventually, the pendulum will swing and UF COP's class size will succumb to market pressures. By then UF COP chain of command will be in the sweet embrace of retirement unconcerned with the employment market. I assume that this academic denial is parroted across many other COPs.

While at midyear, standing in line to return home, the man in front of me asked if I was a pharmacy student. After confirming to him I was, he proceeded to express the sorrow he felt for me. This man was an elderly pharmacist who voiced to me that pharmacy was once a fantastic career and that it is shame that the COPs aren't monitoring the number of students graduating each year. He continued to say that the other healthcare professions --nursing, medical doctors, and dentistry -- protected their professions by keeping graduate numbers in check. He was correct in his concerns for pharmacy. The palpable truth is that if the schools don't regulate the number of graduates then pharmacists will. I have actually met pharmacist who stopped accepting intern students as a means of decreasing the number of pharmacy graduates. The logic is simple: less rotation sites leads to diminished quality of rotations, in turn resulting in student frustration and increased preceptor agitation. Preceptor agitation will inevitably lead to preceptor attrition. And so logically there will be less pharmacy students graduating. Academia can lay in denial and ignore the 12,000lb pink elephant front and center. Doing this hurts students and ultimately harms COPs.

If you've made it this far in this wall of text then I commend you. If you're still considering pharmacy as a career option then I salute you. I recommend that you look at the entire cost associated with pursuing a career in pharmacy and not just the cost of tuition. In evaluating a COP take time to research and make sure that it will not grab you by the ankles, invert you, shake coins from your pockets, and cast you aside. Ensure that the university is committed to building partnerships with private sectors that students can take advantage of. Double check to make certain the university is not only interested in taking your money. Look at future projections. Is pharmacy in a state of boom or bust? My opinion is that pharmacy is in its twilight hours. Whatever the case, be wise in how you spend your money.


Citations
(1) Best Jobs in America. Source: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/bestjobs/2010/
(2) Walton, Surrey M, Ph.D. and et al. "Association Between Increased Number of US Pharmacy Graduates and Pharmacist Counts by State from 2000-2009." American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education volume 74(4), Article 76 (2010): 1-9.
 
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Rx MPLS

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This is a greatly realistic, if somewhat bleak, post. I would encourage anybody interested in pharmacy to read the whole thing; there is a lot of good information whether you choose to pursue this career or not.
 

ACE Rx

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This is a well thought out post.
 

ChEStud

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This is an aside, but I know it seems like every Tom, Dick, and Harry is pre-med, pre-pharm, pre-opt, pre-something. Many of these kids get into professional graduate schools , whether the academics are of quality or not (IE. Carribean med schools that accept pretty much anyone as long as you are willing to pay the 300k tuition + fees + housing).. Does anyone see that acquiring such high debt plus infiltrating the job market (causing a large supply) would cause a steady decline in demand? Honestly, I'm not going to lie, I see kids coming straight out of high school going pre-med or whatever then getting into some Top 600 med school just cause of the salary. I understand some are truly passionate for the field and all, and are willing to take upon themselves the cost. Some are just confused as to what profession they want to do and just chose one because of parental force . I don't think many are aware of the enormous cost associated with going into such professional programs (student loan debt, malpractice insurance, establishment cost, etc.) plus I know some are not willing to relocate into rural areas where their is such demand. Just trying to see if anyone gets my viewpoint or not. I know a family friend who went to dental school and opened his own practice and is currently drowning in private student loan debt as well as business loan debt.
 
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scienceguy13

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This is an aside, but I know it seems like every Tom, Dick, and Harry is pre-med, pre-pharm, pre-opt, pre-something. Many of these kids get into professional graduate schools , whether the academics are of quality or not (IE. Carribean med schools that accept pretty much anyone as long as you are willing to pay the 300k tuition + fees + housing).. Does anyone see that acquiring such high debt plus infiltrating the job market (causing a large supply) would cause a steady decline in demand? Honestly, I'm not going to lie, I see kids coming straight out of high school going pre-med or whatever then getting into some Top 600 med school just cause of the salary. I understand some are truly passionate for the field and all, and are willing to take upon themselves the cost. Some are just confused as to what profession they want to do and just chose one because of parental force . I don't think many are aware of the enormous cost associated with going into such professional programs (student loan debt, malpractice insurance, establishment cost, etc.) plus I know some are not willing to relocate into rural areas where their is such demand. Just trying to see if anyone gets my viewpoint or not. I know a family friend who went to dental school and opened his own practice and is currently drowning in private student loan debt as well as business loan debt.

:beat:
 
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Great analytical writing. Excellent post! :thumbup: Stickied and favorited.

Much of what you say is VERY true and mirrors what I have seen with many, many other students.. The profession is not heading in a good direction, to say the least...
 
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mustang sally

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Great post overall. Agreed with most of it, though I'm not sure industry is the mecca it once was (though it is undoubtedly still competitive due to saturation of the PharmD market).

I guess one moral of the story is don't go to UF. I'm sorry your school experience was so poor. And I'm wondering if you are now graduated and working somewhere as a pharmacist? Just curious what your happy ending turned out to be, because it is a very bleak post.
 

Member 5149

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Great post overall. Agreed with most of it, though I'm not sure industry is the mecca it once was (though it is undoubtedly still competitive due to saturation of the PharmD market).

I guess one moral of the story is don't go to UF. I'm sorry your school experience was so poor. And I'm wondering if you are now graduated and working somewhere as a pharmacist? Just curious what your happy ending turned out to be, because it is a very bleak post.

About ten years ago my COP was ranked number 1. Over the years, we've had research faculty retire and we've lost a ton of NIH research money. We're not even top 40 anymore. Our dean was replaced w another baby boomer, and a significant portion of our P1 classes were also taught by pharmacists who are "on their way out." I can't help but get the feeling that these guys are going through the motions, just milking their paychecks. The lack of effort on some of their parts is evident on some days when it feels like my time is being wasted. Some of these older pharmacists that are still around have honestly just become greedy and sold out. The good ones retired when it was time, and the greedy ones lost their investments in 08, which is why they're trying to double back down again w these new freakin schools. Just look at CNCP, they're quality of education is subpar, even they're students think the school is just in it to make money. Who started it? Some greedy old baby boomer
 

owlegrad

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Very thoughtful post. Thank you for sharing. :thumbup:

I ain't gonna rain on anyone's parade, but let me just say that not everyone who goes to UF would agree with everything written here, though some of the criticism hits close to home. It is factually incorrect to say that pharmacology and therapy start in the second year though, both of those classes start in the spring of the first year. It is true that first year is largely a waste and that the second year is just ridiculously compacted. It sucks that your rotations were so subpar. I disagree with some of the charges leveled against the faculty as well, but obviously everyone is initialed to your own opinions.
 

Hermes 2000

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My original post garnered quite a few views. I even received a number of private messages from concerned pharmacy students and inquisitive practicing pharmacists. My aim was not to scare but to inform readers of what is not explicitly being said to would-be pharmacists in academic spheres. I walked across the stage at graduation in May of 2012. It has now been seven months; time for an update.

Post graduation I moved in with a relative here in the great state of Florida in an attempt to conserve money and to (perhaps) find employment. I am still without employ. Pharmacy employment is dire for sure. I am now preparing for licensure in two other states where I have family. Florida, especially South Florida, is saturated to the brim.

I have been searching for employment on the internets in earnest to no avail. My searches lead me to one of two ends:

(1) Not hiring
(2) Hiring with the provision that applicants possess additional training in X, Y, and Z


In regard to the second scenario I have observed that one to five years experience is the normal request. A number of these job postings make mention of first year clinical residencies with an emphasis on IV training. I, however, refuse to complete a clinical residency*.

Florida is populated with an older demographic. This is the nation's retirement state. I haven't done the requisite literature search to obtain data to back up the following claim but I think it is reasonably safe to assume that pharmacists in their forties and fifties who are considering retirement in the great state of Florida relocate here. And so I as a relatively recent graduate am in direct competition with pharmacist possessing years, perhaps decades, of work experience.

UF COP should be ashamed of itself for doing the bare minimum to retain their accreditation. The curriculum currently rhapsodized is an antiquated curricula meant for the late 1990s. It is as if the UF COP decided upon a curriculum twenty years ago and invested minimal updates in the logic, structure and flow in what is taught despite apparent changes in private job sectors. I attended UF COP between the years 2008 - 2012 and during those years I had to sit through classes on how to make power point slides (ICS). One would be hard pressed to find an individual today ignorant in how to throw together a power point presentation. I even had to sit through a class on empathy! I told a few friends of mine in other careers about my empathy training and they immediately erupted in paroxysms of laughter and accused my profession of inventing ways to charge pharmacy students tuition. Complete time-wasters such as ICS and empathy training should be discarded and replaced with classes that teach marketable knowledge such as IV training.

Those of you reading this are perhaps thinking that I should just shut-up and apply for retail positions. I have! Why, just for fun the other day I downloaded a PDF that had the phone and fax number of each and every Walgreen's district manager (DM) in the United States and phoned the DMs in Florida in pursuit of employment. I encountered the following scenarios:

(1) Not hiring
(2) Not hiring but send us your resume and we'll call you when something opens up
(3) Person on phone: are you licensed?
Me: Yes
Person on phone: are you able to start now?
Me: Yes (hope building)
Person on phone: ...there's nothing open at the moment. But we'll keep you in mind. Make sure to fill out the job application online!
Me: *rolls eyes* Thank you for your time.​


During my MTM rotation I discovered that one of my preceptors was studying the MCAT. Clearly this preceptor saw no future in pharmacy and decided to shift to an alternate career. While attending the 2011 Midyear event in New Orleans I ran into a pharmacy student that was studying the MCAT in his hotel room. I couldn't help but laugh that a pharmacy student was studying the MCAT while at the biggest pharmacy networking event of the year. During my community rotation one of the floater pharmacists** told me to graduate and reapply to school, he recommended med school. Pharmacist returning to school early in their careers (and in some cases before they actually enter the pharmacy career) is trending. I have decided to make a career shift myself. Not med school, something else. I'm still young and without any real responsibilities (id est children). I might as well course correct while I still have my youth and vitality!

I am not the only one having trouble securing employment. A classmate of mine could not find work for approximately six months. This individual in fact made an appearance at one of the UF COP distance campuses career fair only to find six companies present and only two actually hiring.

It is interesting to note that there appears to be a trend of companies making appearances at career fairs with explicit instructions to only interview candidates, not hire them. Friends of mine currently in their fourth year of pharmacy school have reported this strategy to me. One of course wonders "why interview in the first place?" I believe it has to do with keeping up appearances. I do not have data to support this but a charade is only as good as the effort put into maintaining the illusion. University of Florida, as well as many other pharmacy universities, receive funding from pharmacy companies. CVS is UF COP's chosen sugar daddy. It only benefits companies that employ pharmacist to increase the supply of pharmacists and so one would-be pharmacy company must send recruiters to academic institutions to affect hiring.

I have heard various and sundrous accounts from classmates of mine of their difficulties in obtaining employment post graduation and I would report them here but I assured them complete anonymity and so will refrain.

Very thoughtful post. Thank you for sharing. :thumbup:

I ain't gonna rain on anyone's parade, but let me just say that not everyone who goes to UF would agree with everything written here, though some of the criticism hits close to home. It is factually incorrect to say that pharmacology and therapy start in the second year though, both of those classes start in the spring of the first year. It is true that first year is largely a waste and that the second year is just ridiculously compacted. It sucks that your rotations were so subpar. I disagree with some of the charges leveled against the faculty as well, but obviously everyone is initialed to your own opinions.


UF COP faculty members are either clueless or apathetic. I suspect the latter. There is no way that the collective UF COP faculty is ignorant of the current state of affairs concerning pharmacy employment. Impossible. It's as if the faculty members are duty-bound to make no mention of the saturation of the pharmacy market. They too are collectively part of this game. My take on UF COP is that it is a place for aged pharmacists coasting until retirement. I heard that the UF COP head-dean recently retired. I'm not surprised. He saw the damaged wrought from universities saturating the market - which he took part of; he's seen the decrease in the number of UF COP alumni securing employment immediately post graduation (the school sends surveys to graduates to collect data on post-graduate employment); and he has witnessed the almost exponential decline in the number of pharmacy companies attending career fair. The neon writing is on the wall. I don't at all blame him for jumping ship.

My observations and analysis of pharmacy throughout my time at UF COP oft resulted in me being classified as pessimistic by academic peers. Many of my classmates maintained an overt positive attitude in regards to future job outlook. This lasted until about the middle of the third year when the job searches began. The cool, icy mist of reality made its macabre presence known in-between third and fourth year. By then my fellow students began to confide to me their displeasure in their academic education and the lack in job opportunity. These were the same students who during their first and second years were euphorically up-beat and optimistic. Why, a fellow student who was considered to be a "leader in pharmacy" expressed to me that if time could be reversed, pharmacy wouldn't have been the career path chosen. True, not all of the UF COP class of 2012 agreed with me. By the end of fourth year most, however, did.

I sometimes sit back and make attempts to prognosticate the pharmacy breaking point. Current modus operandi of too many pharmacists graduating annually is not sustainable. Academic institutions of pharmacy will eventually become insolvent and close their doors should the current state of affairs remain as they are.

* I have reasons for not doing a clinical residency and, in the spirit of not writing another wall of text, decided not to include said opinions in this particular post.

** This pharmacist had been floating for Walgreens for three years. Not sure why but the company has yet to find him a singular location to call his own.



References:

1) www.walgreens.com/images/pdfs/District_Listing.pdf
 
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Kwiz

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The solution to this problem is very simple. Lets look at pre-med, pre-dds, etc. What's different? They need a bachelors degree. This will happen eventually. Why not now? Grandfather in the people to whom deserves it. Require it for graduating HS seniors starting next year. Lets start a petition.
 

rxtech2012

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I don't disagree with anything you say. It's true that nowadays just having your degree in pharmacy does not equal multiple guaranteed job offers. While the market may be tough in most areas, from my observation from working in the field it's so important to make yourself stand out when your interning or on rotations. I am still determined to become a pharmacist even if I have to find employment in less desirable areas. I will keep you on my thoughts and I hope you find something that you enjoy. Have you considered looking into Texas?
 

rxtech2012

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Kwiz-
I completely agree with that. Just think, at some schools over 50% of accepted students have bachelors or higher, so if they mandated it be required then wouldn't that technically decrease the applicant pool by half or more?
 
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confettiflyer

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Kwiz-
I completely agree with that. Just think, at some schools over 50% of accepted students have bachelors or higher, so if they mandated it be required then wouldn't that technically decrease the applicant pool by half or more?

Wishful thinking. BS/BA degrees are a dime a dozen. If magically every school suddenly required it, you'd mmmaybe see an artificial drop the first year, but the masses will keep on coming at you.

I'd make the argument that you'd end up with a *worse* pool of students entering because just having a BS/BA degree doesn't automatically make you a better candidate than someone without.

Many applicants who matriculate w/out a BS/BA degree are probably within 1-2 years of obtaining one anyway just by the sheer # of prerequisites they need to apply to pharmacy school.
 

Kwiz

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Those are both good points, and are possible. Think about it though:

IN GENERAL, from the high school senior perspective, in regard to traditional pharmacy schools, what's a major advantage of going to pharmacy school over medical school?

2 years of undergrad, apply to pharmacy school, get in and get out, and next thing you know you're 23-24YOA and you're called "doctor". Whether or not this will actually happen is irrelevant right now, because I'm speaking in terms of intended pre-pharmacy majors. I have heard this argument, or a very similar one from dozens of high school students from my high school alone over the years.

Point being:
Not only will there be less students in pursuit of pharmacy, but students will have all of the major top level health professions on an even level in terms of year and degree requirements. MD? Need a BS. DDS? Need a BS. DO? OD? DC? DPM? DVM? DNP? Need a BS. If PharmD requires A BS there will be, at the very least, a shift towards saturating the other fields that require a BS. If you can get your MD in the same number of years as a PharmD, and you're a high school senior, why pursue pharmacy? It might be easy for pharmacists or pharmacy students or even some prepharmacy students to justify pharmacy over MD school, but if you take the average high school senior or junior or whatever, and you take into consideration their knowledge (or lack thereof) of the practice of pharmacy, it would be pretty difficult to justify to themselves pursuing pharmacy, and perhaps rightfully so. Ethically speaking, it would give these students a better shot at choosing the career they truly wish to pursue, rather than picking pharmacy by default, due to shorter length of time for what they perceive as a similar prestige as some other health professions.

Considering the shift of students away from pharmacy toward the other health professions that require a BS,

Along with standards already in place for getting into pharmacy school,

And it will change. It might take 5 years to show a dramatic change in numbers (5 cycles of high school seniors across the US, etc. having to choose b/w professions of an equal length), but it would definitely change things.

Additionally, it would eventually decrease the ignorance of other health professionals to the education required by a pharmacist. Sure, there's a boat load or two of physicians that know to become a pharmacist takes more than 4 years, but it's pretty sad when some think that it's a 4 year degree, that its a two year degree, and that "you need to go to school for that?".

Eventually, it might even lead to a dramatic shift away from pre-pharmacy vs pre-med vs pre-DDS vs pre-vet. Within 10 years of the BS implementation in pharmacy, we could easily see simply "pre-health care professions" as a undergraduate path or "pre-health doctorate" or "pre-health" or something creative unlike those 3 suggestions.

I don't know if I'm making sense to anyone, but do you see what I mean?

If you were to ask 10,000 incoming freshman in fall 2013, "Why are you pursuing a career in pharmacy?" And then after the majority's bull$h1t answer about caring for people, you ask them "So why not a career in medicine (MD)?" Chances are a large number of those 10,000 would say something relatively shorter to the time required to attain a PharmD degree vs longer for attaining an MD degree. Without discussing the time for required residencies, internships, etc. unless (a) specific student(s) are already aware of the time it takes for those.

Also, if you have a semi-difficult major as an undergrad, it may very well be a better indicator of one's abilities when you look at the applicants GPA. Bac when I was a freshman, there were about 15 people on my floor alone that did jack $h1t for studying prerequisites and got >3.8GPA and got into pharmacy.

I think it's pretty sad that you can get into a large number of pharmacy schools, without knowing the name of a single drug, without knowing or being able to hypothesize a single mechanism of action, without knowing a single bone or gland or hormone in the body. Sure, you'd miss a few MCQs in the Bio section of the PCAT but no one would ever really know your lack of knowledge. That's not to say those people are not capable of succeeding in pharmacy school or practice, but if they can succeed in that, than why not require that biochem, physio, anatomy, patho, micro, an intro to pharm as prereqs?? You're going to be learning the $h1t eventually, so why not do it before pharmacy school? Why not make them pre-reqs? At the very least it'll bring down the average applicant's GPA, even if ONE of those was incorporated universally by pharmacy schools as a prereq. To be fair, it'll also give students a clue as to complexities of the human body before getting into pharmacy school. It'll give more time for more of the "real" pharmacy school classes (therapeutics, kinetics, etc.), or more time for the b.s. pharmacy school classes. They want more time to teach pharmaceutical care and the MTM of fatsomyalgia, well there's a win-win proposition for everyone involved in pre-pharm, pharm, pharmaceutical education, etc.
 

Hermes 2000

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... If you can get your MD in the same number of years as a PharmD, and you're a high school senior, why pursue pharmacy? ...

Agreed!

Obtaining a PharmD doesn't require four years of graduate course work. One could purchase a pharmacy review book (I recommend Rx Prep), study the material for a few months and pass the NAPLEX. Medical school is the limit. If medical school required five years of graduate course work, so would pharmacy school. If medical school required two years, four months and three days of graduate course work, so would pharmacy school. It's all about tuition. The two years of undergraduate coursework is the selling point for pharmacy institutions. Require a bachelor degree for admission into pharmacy school and expect students to shift to other healthcare careers.

I once recommended to a professor on the academic committee that the school require a bachelor degree for admission. This would allow useless first year pharmacy coursework to be completed in undergrad thus freeing up space for more pressing matters to be addressed. The response I received was something along the lines of "...if students are required to have a four year undergraduate degree in addition to a four year graduate degree then they will graduate expecting greater compensation form their employers and so pharmacy companies will decrease their donations to the school." It's all about money (surprised?).

And let's not forget about the abundance of pharmacy students completing PGY-1 and PGY-2 residencies. Hospitals are now requiring residences for employment. As it stands a would-be pharmacist interested in working in a hospital is looking at a minimum of seven to eight years of education. Require a bachelor of science for pharmacy school admission and we're talking about nine to ten years of education. And I've heard rumors of a possible PGY-3 in the works (again, rumor). One might as well go to medical school.
 

confettiflyer

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If you can get your MD in the same number of years as a PharmD, and you're a high school senior, why pursue pharmacy?

1) Don't like touching people
2) There's still that pesky residency requirement MD's need to actually practice
3) 40 hour work week doesn't really exist that much in physician-land (for most, I think).
4) Hypercompetitive process for residency match - may not get into the field that you originally wanted to/get the lifestyle you want.

Just a few reasons.
 

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For you knowing that a high school senior, I commend you. Now that that .00001% is out of the way and everyone has put their stubborn nuances out of the way, does everyone understand that doing this would put an end to pharmacy being the academic path of least resistance for aspiring health care professionals?
 

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^^^ Agreed Kwiz. It would definitely reduce saturation.

Pharmacy Commentary

Sorry if I missed it in your posts, but did you work during pharmacy school? How well do you feel like you networked during school? Just wondering since word on the street is that those are extremely important if you want to land a job after school in this market. If you did network and work, then the market out there is definitely suffering. The east and west coast seem to be the most difficult places to get a job, and south Florida has gotta be one of the most sought after locations.
 

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1) Don't like touching people
2) There's still that pesky residency requirement MD's need to actually practice
3) 40 hour work week doesn't really exist that much in physician-land (for most, I think).
4) Hypercompetitive process for residency match - may not get into the field that you originally wanted to/get the lifestyle you want.

Just a few reasons.

This is basically my reasoning as well. I dont really like blood/guts either.

In regards to the OP,

There has been 3 new pharmacy schools opened in area (Chicago,IL) and from what I am told there's a bit of saturation going on. At the pharmacy that I work at, there are graduates who have been floating (working as a sub for a number of pharmacies) for 3-4 years, when the norm used to be about a year or 2 before you are on staff at your own site. Now, as a pre-pharm students, I am ecstatic to know that there are a number of new schools being opened...but realistically speaking, its not good for the profession.

I really would hate to have gone through 4 years of undergrad and 4 years of pharm school just to have to work in a rural area for a couple years before I can find a retail job from where I am from....this is discouraging to say the least.
 

Kwiz

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Discouraging is the point. The point is to discourage less students from getting into the profession, less graduates, less ability for saturating jobs. 7 years? Good. 9 years? Good. 20 years? Even better. Prestige and salary will be lost with continuous saturation. 2 extra years of undergrad is discouraging to pay for? Perfect! When the switch from BS pharm to PharmD went universal, people got over it and the old timers were grandfathered in, reaping their deserved benefits of having came to the profession early, essentially they were served first because they came first. The same thing will have to happen again. Don't people get it? The reason why there was an "unexpected shortage" in pharmacists ~5-15 years ago? Because of the dramatic decrease in quantity of pharmacists supplied, with the same relative increase in quantity demanded per capita. Sure Medicare Part D and blah blah blah, but you look at the subsequent increase in the number of applicants to medical school, relative to the change from BS pharm to PharmD, and you see that it comes down to the number of people choosing to pursue pharmacy. Then the quantity of pharmacists demanded fueled nearly a double in the number of pharmacy schools across the nation. Now that's saturated. We need to increase the number of years again (to get that supply down, eventually demand up) and put it up to the point where there's no distinction in number of years required to ATTAIN THE DEGREE as that of other top level health professions. I am not saying its a panacea for all things pharmacy, I'm saying given the hand we were dealt, it's the only thing keeping us from eventually becoming in-dispense-able pharmacists.
 

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...but you look at the subsequent increase in the number of applicants to medical school, relative to the change from BS pharm to PharmD, and you see that it comes down to the number of people choosing to pursue pharmacy...

:laugh:
 

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...Sorry if I missed it in your posts, but did you work during pharmacy school? How well do you feel like you networked during school? ...

I networked as well as I possibly could. Though, in retrospect, if I could go back in time I would expend absolutely no energy on UF COP events! UF COP is isolated and knows nobody. In my first year I would immediately plan for Midyear and completely bypass UF COPs laughable career fair. Were I interested in pharmacy corporations I would, in my first year, immediately contact companies up north and find out the dates of their networking events and attend them. And so on.

...I really would hate to have gone through 4 years of undergrad and 4 years of pharm school just to have to work in a rural area for a couple years before I can find a retail job from where I am from....this is discouraging to say the least.

This profession has already reached that point. Professors now advise graduating students to seek employment in rural areas. I had a preceptor try to talk me into a PGY-1 residency by telling me to seek work in rural settings (she was stern in making it clear that she was nowhere close to retirement and had no thoughts of leaving her job in South Florida). It's quite discerning. I don't see how pharmacy schools are going to continue to attract young students with the selling point of "Attend pharmacy school, spend $100,000+ all so you can work in the middle of nowhere!". I recently spoke to friends in other fields and posed the question to them of "Would you attend school with thoughts of working in rural settings?". I was laughed at, of course.
 
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Hermes 2000

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I got my internship (which lead to a job offer for post graduation) through the laughable career fair. :shrug:

Congratulations. I don't know what company you work for but I hope the management doesn't change and result in you being fired before you're technically hired. This very thing happened to a number of classmates of mine who were with CVS in the Miami area.

I stand by my comments. I watched the career fair dwindle year after year. It became palpable sometime in my second year when Target stopped offering food after therapy class (I knew something was up when the food was no longer offered). The military didn't bother making an appearance by third and fourth year.

In any case, be well.
 

owlegrad

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Oh yes, I have noticed the same thing. The first year it was packed with students and booths. Every year there are fewer booths and it seemed to me fewer students (attendance is mandatory now though so I guess that isn't going to be an issue going forward). I just wanted to point out ignoring the career fair is probably not the best way to network or land a job. ;)
 

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Interesting that the university now requires students to attend career fair. It seems weird to require students to attend career fair when employer attendance continues to decline.
 

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1) Don't like touching people
2) There's still that pesky residency requirement MD's need to actually practice
3) 40 hour work week doesn't really exist that much in physician-land (for most, I think).
4) Hypercompetitive process for residency match - may not get into the field that you originally wanted to/get the lifestyle you want.

Just a few reasons.

Okay, it is getting to the point where you could argue #4 applies to pharmacy as well. Granted you don't need a residency to practice but you do need it for a lot of positions that people may find more desirable for a variety of reasons.
 

BMBiology

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UF COP faculty members are either clueless or apathetic

No surprise there. I am sure it is not just at UF COP. Here's a big secret that most pharmacy schools do not tell you - most of the faculty who are working in a hospital are not being paid by the hospitals for their "clinical service". They are just volunteers. Guess who pays their salary? You and your hard earned tuition. So, they are training you for a job that doesn't even exist outside of academia.
 

JohnFe

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No surprise there. I am sure it is not just at UF COP. Here's a big secret that most pharmacy schools do not tell you - most of the faculty who are working in a hospital are not being paid by the hospitals for their "clinical service". They are just volunteers. Guess who pays their salary? You and your hard earned tuition. So, they are training you for a job that doesn't even exist outside of academia.

That sucks.

:(

I read the wall of texts. YAY!
 

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The economy is deep in recovery. You seek employment stability and so you consider a career in healthcare. Pharmacy appears respectable. And so you hop on the internet, mouse over to Google, type in "pharmacy" and find yourself at Student Doctor Network. You navigate through the threads and end up here. Good. I am a 2012 graduate and the following is my commentary concerning pharmacy. Continue reading for stark feedback on pharmacy academia and pharmacy employment.

Let us begin with the nature of the job itself. Major options for pharmacists essentially boil down to the following: retail, hospital, clinical specialist, and industry. Retail pharmacy is what it is. There are countless blogs and narratives populating corners of the internet enunciating the calamity of retail pharmacy. I can't add much more. Hospital is a popular choice because it offers respite from inimical retail conditions. That was then. Now, it is more difficult to obtain employment in a hospital. The advent of new technology is decreasing need for pharmacist and hospitals are now beginning to require new hospital pharmacist to complete PGY1 residences. What's a residency? PGY stands for "post graduate year", the number "1" indicates year one. Pharmacy students complete residencies to better familiarize themselves with clinical aspects of pharmacy. The PGY1 year is a general residency meaning that residents rotate throughout different subject areas. Residents then have the option to continue on to a PGY2 residency. PGY2 residencies are purposed for specialization into a clinical pharmacist. Clinical pharmacists can specialize in oncology pharmacy, transplant pharmacy, infectious disease pharmacy and &c. The clinical pharmacist route gained much popularity during its inception around the year 2000. And so many pharmacy graduates went this route. For them, the move was beneficial because they at least had the promise of employment post residency. Things have changed. The number of pharmacy students applying for PGY1 residencies now significantly outnumbers available residency locations. Additionally, pharmacists who completed PGY1 and PGY2 residencies in the early 2000s are still young. There isn't an age continuum. Across the board they're in their 30s, well removed from the peace of retirement. One could therefore lie in wait for years for a clinical pharmacist job opportunity to arise. Do keep in mind that pharmacy residents work long hours only to be compensated less than half salary. Industry is now popular. Many industry fellows I met at ASHP midyear were elated to work for the pharmaceutical industry because they are not burdened with patient interaction. School connections are important for breaking into the industry and southern pharmacy schools are devoid of such connections. Attend pharmacy school in the northeast should you want to work in industry or otherwise do your homework and attend pharmacy placement service (PPS) at midyear well prepared to wow industry employers.

My commentary of the pharmacy employment market and pharmacy academia is...strong. But consider the time and financial investment required to obtain a pharmacy license. Six years is the minimum to become a licensed pharmacist. Most students will go into major financial debt ($100,000+) to pay for pharmacy school. And tuition is increasing. It is only natural to expect a payoff post pharmacy school. One attends a university to obtain employment. And universities that hinder or do not facilitate this process deserve criticism.

New pharmacy schools opened across the nation within the past decade in response to the pharmacist demand thus increasing the number of pharmacy gradates. Pharmacy graduates are outpacing pharmacy job growth. From an employer perspective this is fantastic news because the ball is now in the employer court. Negotiating with potential employees is no longer a necessity. Today's pharmacist supply ensures that there will be pharmacist around the corner thirsty for employment. Does academia care? Large pharmacy schools have worked hard to build up their student body to the point that student body contraction would ruin the budget. It's business. Pharmacy students are hamsters providing movement to the academic money wheel. UF COP accepts roughly three hundred students, each paying approximately $100,000 for education which amounts to $30 Million over the course of the education. The school can't financially afford to decrease the number of students. Eventually, the pendulum will swing and UF COP's class size will succumb to market pressures. By then UF COP chain of command will be in the sweet embrace of retirement unconcerned with the employment market. I assume that this academic denial is parroted across many other COPs.

While at midyear, standing in line to return home, the man in front of me asked if I was a pharmacy student. After confirming to him I was, he proceeded to express the sorrow he felt for me. This man was an elderly pharmacist who voiced to me that pharmacy was once a fantastic career and that it is shame that the COPs aren't monitoring the number of students graduating each year. He continued to say that the other healthcare professions --nursing, medical doctors, and dentistry -- protected their professions by keeping graduate numbers in check. He was correct in his concerns for pharmacy. The palpable truth is that if the schools don't regulate the number of graduates then pharmacists will. I have actually met pharmacist who stopped accepting intern students as a means of decreasing the number of pharmacy graduates. The logic is simple: less rotation sites leads to diminished quality of rotations, in turn resulting in student frustration and increased preceptor agitation. Preceptor agitation will inevitably lead to preceptor attrition. And so logically there will be less pharmacy students graduating. Academia can lay in denial and ignore the 12,000lb pink elephant front and center. Doing this hurts students and ultimately harms COPs.

If you've made it this far in this wall of text then I commend you. If you're still considering pharmacy as a career option then I salute you. I recommend that you look at the entire cost associated with pursuing a career in pharmacy and not just the cost of tuition. In evaluating a COP take time to research and make sure that it will not grab you by the ankles, invert you, shake coins from your pockets, and cast you aside. Ensure that the university is committed to building partnerships with private sectors that students can take advantage of. Double check to make certain the university is not only interested in taking your money. Look at future projections. Is pharmacy in a state of boom or bust? My opinion is that pharmacy is in its twilight hours. Whatever the case, be wise in how you spend your money.
[/LEFT]


Citations
(1) Best Jobs in America. Source: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/bestjobs/2010/
(2) Walton, Surrey M, Ph.D. and et al. "Association Between Increased Number of US Pharmacy Graduates and Pharmacist Counts by State from 2000-2009." American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education volume 74(4), Article 76 (2010): 1-9.
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[/CENTER]


This post has me questioning everything. Is the pharmacy profession this bad everywhere? I'm thinking of applying to pharmacy school this fall, and feel this it is the right fit for me. If there is this much competition for jobs then why are so many students going into this profession?
 

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This post has me questioning everything. Is the pharmacy profession this bad everywhere? I'm thinking of applying to pharmacy school this fall, and feel this it is the right fit for me. If there is this much competition for jobs then why are so many students going into this profession?

Well first of all, this is one students apparent take on the profession and it must therefore be put into perspective. If you take the time to read and deconstruct the post it is rather obvious that Hermes 2000 is not necessarily condemning a career choice in pharmacy as much as he is providing a cautionary tale warning future students of the pitfalls inherent to UF's COP.

A few items of supporting evidence:

  • Without hesitation I give my UF COP collective rotation experiences a D grade
  • UF COP has no housing options for students
  • Not at UF COP. You are on your own
  • UF COP apparently didn't receive the memo
  • UF COP's class size will succumb to market pressures
  • UF COP touts clinical residences and yet provide absolutely no guidance on applying to prospective residencies
  • Career day at UF COP was laughable
  • UF COP is not well networked
  • UF COP used to ride on the wings of its national ranking (which recently slipped).

He starts his tirade against UF COP with this statement:

The following is my commentary concerning pharmacy. Continue reading for stark feedback on pharmacy academia and pharmacy employment.

this tempts you into believing that soon you will be privy to an insider's glimpse of the pharmacy profession. Unfortunately, the post throws some data at you without really incorporating it into the overarching argument. Eventually, the entire post derails and then becomes a scathing indictment of Hermes 2000's alma mater.

In the concluding paragraph one would typically refer back to their thesis to tie the entire post together, but instead Hermes 2000 simply warns future students of the following:

In evaluating a COP take time to research and make sure that it will not grab you by the ankles, invert you, shake coins from your pockets, and cast you aside.

Overall I felt cheated out of my time with this rather perfunctory review of "pharmacy academia and pharmacy employment." Unfortunately, I believe that Hermes 2000 really missed a golden opportunity to write a solid (and helpful) post.

Honestly, I really don't want to judge a forum post on the merits of how well it conforms to proper paper writing. I'm not an English professor nor do I claim that my skills as a writer exceed that of Hermes 2000. I can sense the seething passion conveyed by his post and I can agree with him on many of the points. However, I believe that the title of this "article" should be reworded to properly reflect the content and purpose of his writing. Perhaps something such as: "Choosing a pharmacy school: A cautionary tale for future pharmacy students." Also the post should be wholly refocused to highlight some areas that potential and soon-to-be pharmacy students should be aware of when choosing a COP, rather than talking about how much UF COP fails in each of these regards.

If you read through the article and solely reached the conclusion that the pharmacy profession is in trouble.. then I really wonder as to which article you were reading and I may even question your critical thinking skills. If some outdated (and sorry to say, poorly utilized) data and a second-hand reporting of words of misgiving from an "elderly pharmacist" are enough to dissuade you from pursuing a career in pharmacy, then perhaps you should reevaluate what you want to do with your life. Hermes 2000 is very correct that the pharmacy profession currently is not what it was just a few years ago. The difference is rather stark. The profession went from nearly universal $20-$40,000 sign-on bonuses, to areas with a very competitive job market and pay cuts, all in under a decade. It is not surprising for anyone that went through these dramatic changes to do a double take. I don't believe that pharmacy will reach that point again, especially in the wake of the recession. It was somewhat of a perfect storm and those lucky few that were there to take advantage of it should count their blessings. To the rest of us looking to continue and start careers in pharmacy, we should look at Hermes 2000's post and see it for what it is, a warning that those "glory days" of easy money are gone. If you are coming into pharmacy with an outstretched palm and excited to ring that old school chant: "C's for 100g's," then I pity you. You will live a harder life than the rest of us and I fully expect you to soon be one of the more vocal antagonists here on these forums spending copious amounts of time complaining about how the field is going to hell.

Instead, if you go in with open eyes; minimize your student debt, choose your school well, do your best in school, diversify your education, network as you develop your skills as a pharmacist, and truly become involved in the profession, then you will not have a cause for concern and indeed will even thrive in the profession. Work your ass off as a student and continue the trend into your professional career and you will want for nothing as a pharmacist. It is true that in the relative short-term, pharmacy is in for a "bumpy ride" as it goes through "growing pains" and continues to adapt to a rapidly evolving, technologically advanced, and fiscally conservative healthcare environment. As future pharmacists, we can either learn to adapt or see aspects of our profession become obsolete. I personally look forward to this challenge and believe that these changes will provide a setting that allows for greater development of our profession. It is all a matter of perspective. You can look at the future with uncertainty and loathe it, or you can look at that uncertainty as a means to separate yourself from the crowd and redefine what it is to practice pharmacy. Either way I hope that my "brief" post here will give you reason to pause and further research the current and future prospects of the pharmacy profession for yourself, rather than take my word or the word of anyone else on these forums.
 

BMBiology

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Instead, if you go in with open eyes; minimize your student debt, choose your school well, do your best in school, diversify your education, network as you develop your skills as a pharmacist, and truly become involved in the profession, then you will not have a cause for concern and indeed will even thrive in the profession. Work your ass off as a student and continue the trend into your professional career and you will want for nothing as a pharmacist.

Most pre pharmacy, pre med students think like this. If I just do this and that, things would work out for me. Life is not that simple and doesn't work like that.

It is true that in the relative short-term, pharmacy is in for a "bumpy ride" as it goes through "growing pains" and continues to adapt to a rapidly evolving, technologically advanced, and fiscally conservative healthcare environment. As future pharmacists, we can either learn to adapt or see aspects of our profession become obsolete. I personally look forward to this challenge and believe that these changes will provide a setting that allows for greater development of our profession.

You can "adapt" all you want but when there's no budget for a position, there's no opportunity for you. The problem is not that the profession is "rapidly evolving". The problem is the number of pharmacists greatly exceeds the number of positions and it's going to get worse in 3-4 years when more students graduate from pharmacy schools.
 
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Skrumpy

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Most pre pharmacy, pre med students think like this. If I just do this and that, things would work out for me. Life is not that simple and doesn't work like that.

There is no IKEA manual to life and no one is claiming that there is.. so I'm unsure where you are coming with your nonsensical sophistry. Also, I'm not your typical “prepharm” student, so if you really want to compare CV let's have at it, but please hold back your condescension as to the difficulties of life. You are hardly privy to some “secret knowledge” of it that I, and the others here, are not. However you want to twist it, I brought up some valid points especially in light of today's market. Someone with 100k in loans will live a very different life after school than someone coming out with 300k. To some extent we have a direct hand in controlling how much we are willing to invest (at the top end) in our education. I could have gone out of state and paid 3x more for mine, but I chose not to. Some don't seem to care and some of these are the type of people I see flying to Mazatlan every spring break and getting new cars while they are in school. Hey I don't judge, it's their life, my point was that even in this harrowing job market pharmacy school is still lucrative for those wise enough to exercise caution in how they handle their financial affairs.

Educational diversification, such as getting a dual degree (very cost effective way of setting yourself apart from the pack), can help tremendously in a competitive job market. Getting out of school with a PharmD +MBA/MPH/PhD/JD/MS/MSHI/MHA/etc means that someone can potentially use their combined degrees in a way that a PharmD may not be able to. Networking is also very important and getting into these dual degrees allows for more of it. For example someone going for a PharmD/MBA can develop ties to those in the business world as well as those in pharmacy. You take courses with business students, engage in their program, and make meaningful connections that you can use later in your career/life.

You can "adapt" all you want but when there's no budget for a position, there's no opportunity for you. The problem is not that the profession is "rapidly evolving". The problem is the number of pharmacists greatly exceeds the number of positions and it's going to get worse in 3-4 years when more students graduate from pharmacy schools.

More students = more pharmacists = less available jobs, isn't that true for any profession? Sure we get the “math,” we know CA is turning out pharmacy schools left and right. We're all aware of some of the problems facing pharmacy in the near future. Welcome to free-market economics. The way it works though is that eventually the market will adjust. Until that happens, this type of environment will allow those of us who can “adapt” and innovate to rise to the top of the faceless mass of diploma mill PharmD's. Those who can't hack it can make way for the rest of us who are hungry for a challenge.
 

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Your post offers no specifics but just general, obvious comments.

Educational diversification, such as getting a dual degree (very cost effective way of setting yourself apart from the pack), can help tremendously in a competitive job market. Getting out of school with a PharmD +MBA/MPH/PhD/JD/MS/MSHI/MHA/etc means that someone can potentially use their combined degrees in a way that a PharmD may not be able to. Networking is also very important and getting into these dual degrees allows for more of it. For example someone going for a PharmD/MBA can develop ties to those in the business world as well as those in pharmacy. You take courses with business students, engage in their program, and make meaningful connections that you can use later in your career/life.

You sound just like a commercial from the University of Phoenix. Dual degree? Really? Taking on more debt? You do know that an MBA is useless if you don't have at least a couple of years of business experience and if your school is not prestigious right?

More students = more pharmacists = less available jobs, isn't that true for any profession?

Please stop comparing pharmacy to other professions. Their students do not graduate with 250-300 k in student loans.
 
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UTsto

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Your post offers no specifics but just general, obvious comments.



You sound just like a commercial from the University of Phoenix. Dual degree? Really? Taking on more debt? You do know that an MBA is useless if you don't have at least a couple of years of business experience and if your school is not prestigious right?



Please stop comparing pharmacy to other professions. Their students do not graduate with 250-300 k in student loans.

Since you've been a member on these forums since 2003, I have to ask why do you still post on here? I'm sure you have a job and a lot of other more important things in your life than just coming on SDN and being a cynic. A lot of what you say is very true and ill give you that but at some point can you just please stop posting and get on with your life?
 

PreciousRoy

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Since you've been a member on these forums since 2003, I have to ask why do you still post on here? I'm sure you have a job and a lot of other more important things in your life than just coming on SDN and being a cynic. A lot of what you say is very true and ill give you that but at some point can you just please stop posting and get on with your life?

Quoted because I'm also curious.
 

BMBiology

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Since you've been a member on these forums since 2003, I have to ask why do you still post on here? I'm sure you have a job and a lot of other more important things in your life than just coming on SDN and being a cynic. A lot of what you say is very true and ill give you that but at some point can you just please stop posting and get on with your life?

You can attack me all you want but lets see you dispute what I am saying.
 

PreciousRoy

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You can attack me all you want but lets see you dispute what I am saying.
You're right just because I can flush a turd down the toilet, it doesn't mean it stops smelling. I still don't see your point.

Expect your prize for being such a hero to the profession in the mail tomorrow.
 

BMBiology

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Yes, I post on a public forum so I can gain popularity and notoriety. I want people to say, "oh that's BMB!". Give me a break.

I know what I am saying is not popular but I am more concerned about being right than being popular. I will leave it as that.

A lot of what you say is very true
 

PharmtoCS

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Since you've been a member on these forums since 2003, I have to ask why do you still post on here? I'm sure you have a job and a lot of other more important things in your life than just coming on SDN and being a cynic. A lot of what you say is very true and ill give you that but at some point can you just please stop posting and get on with your life?

Don't shoot the messenger; telling BMB off isn't going to change anything about our profession. In fact, I would like to hear some insight from someone who has been in the field for a while when most others have moved on with their life and do not have the time or will to share information with us who are relatively new to the field.
 

batteen1

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Well this thread has gone downhill. I just wanted some insight from those of you in the profession or working your way to getting into the profession. If recent grads in Florida are having a difficult time finding a job in Florida will it be just as bad everywhere else in 3-4 years?
 

Hermes 2000

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...Instead, if you go in with open eyes; minimize your student debt, choose your school well, do your best in school, diversify your education, network as you develop your skills as a pharmacist, and truly become involved in the profession, then you will not have a cause for concern and indeed will even thrive in the profession...

Are you a pre-pharmacy student? I ask because you sound naive. Many students, including myself, executed the quoted formula only to receive a sobering smack across the face with reality. Old rules of success simply don't apply when decreasing demand mixes with increasing supply. It is not my intention to attack you but lets keep it real. Being a new pharmacy graduate isn't awesome.

BMBiology is absolutely correct:
...You can "adapt" all you want but when there's no budget for a position, there's no opportunity for you...

Budget is law. I don't care how valuable you think you are to the healthcare team. You're only worth what your employer is willing to pay you, and that's if they are willing to hire you. I saw a number of PGY-1 and PGY-2 graduates turn down jobs in the hospitals I rotated in because they thought they were worth more than what hospitals were willing to pay. It is what it is.
 
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Skrumpy

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Your post offers no specifics but just general, obvious comments.



You sound just like a commercial from the University of Phoenix. Dual degree? Really? Taking on more debt? You do know that an MBA is useless if you don't have at least a couple of years of business experience and if your school is not prestigious right?



Please stop comparing pharmacy to other professions. Their students do not graduate with 250-300 k in student loans.

General obvious comments? Oh like your general obvious comments about how the pharmacy profession sucks? "you do know an MBA is useless," hey thanks for the specifics there. It looks as if I'm not the only one who can post vague commentary without any supporting evidence. Looking at your post history it is quite obvious that you are drawn to these types of threads like a moth to a flame. You hate your life.. we understand. You wish you had chosen something else.. trust us we wish you had as well. No one in my state could graduate with 250-300k in loans, even if they tried. I could go get 3 PhDs, a PharmD/MBA, and add in my undergrad and still come out well under that. I honestly don't know what random number generator you get your "facts and figures" from but the one kid on the forums who made idiotic life choices doesn't make up the vast majority of us. I don't expect that we'll have any affect on your continuing to post this type of trite, my only hope is that those coming to this thread (and the others you attempt to poison) will research for themselves what they are getting into and make intelligent choices before buying whatever crap you're trying to shove down their throat.

Don't shoot the messenger; telling BMB off isn't going to change anything about our profession. In fact, I would like to hear some insight from someone who has been in the field for a while when most others have moved on with their life and do not have the time or will to share information with us who are relatively new to the field.

The messenger? Did I miss the memo that made BMB the universal spokesperson for the pharmacy profession? If you want to hear some insight from someone who has been in the field for awhile then you should ask others, not just one crabbed viewpoint from someone who obviously has a heavy negative bias. It's as if you are using only 1 person who happens to have a deadly peanut allergy for information on what a peanut tastes like. I happen to have 5 years of retail experience and 8 years of hospital experience, I work at an educational hospital attached to the 3rd ranked pharmacy school (yea yea who cares about rankings). We have several interns come through each year, we have several residents each year. We employ pharmacists from all over the US in our many hospitals/clinics. I've seen hundreds of pharmacists and future pharmacists come through our facility. I speak to a lot of these people as they pass through (before going to one of our sister facilities). I ask each of them about their thoughts on the future of the profession. I've heard trepidation from a few about the market, but each one says they would do it over again. So sorry if I'm not buying into the crud some forum brat is slinging about the profession. I'd rather take the word of people that I know and trust out in the real world, but then again that is me. If you choose to believe everything you read here, by all means that is your prerogative.

Well this thread has gone downhill. I just wanted some insight from those of you in the profession or working your way to getting into the profession. If recent grads in Florida are having a difficult time finding a job in Florida will it be just as bad everywhere else in 3-4 years?

The market is getting tighter and none of us are soothsayers so take everything you read with a grain of salt. I do believe the trends with as many schools opening and that are planned to open, will lead to saturation, mostly in areas with a large number of schools (east/west coasts). Though it is difficult to predict what the future will hold while we are still in recession. My GF works for CVS and started before the recession (back with all those nice sign-on bonuses), and the number of new stores opening at that time was about 3-4 times higher than it is now. They were also acquiring a lot of independents and assimilating their customer base. That slowed dramatically during the recession. I think making a life decision (such as going to pharmacy school) based solely on current market trends is ludicrous. Many of the people who went in right before the boom and came out into the recession are no doubt upset about the market conditions. I don't think we'll ever see the pre-recession boom we had just a few years ago again (at least in our lifetime), but that doesn't mean that the profession is going to be going up in a puff of smoke either. We are still in the recession and that is a fact that many of the naysayers here on the forums seem to continually dismiss.
 

Skrumpy

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Are you a pre-pharmacy student? I ask because you sound naive. Many students, including myself, executed the quoted formula only to receive a sobering smack across the face with reality. Old rules of success simply don't apply when decreasing demand mixes with increasing supply. It is not my intention to attack you but lets keep it real. Being a new pharmacy graduate isn't awesome.

Wait.. you executed the quoted formula? Did I misread your entire article? So you went to a "good school"? I'm not talking about choosing a school based on some meaningless ranking. "Look my school is good it's ranked #34!!!." Who is the naive one? I'm talking about looking at the program in depth, talking to the students (not just the 5 people the put in front of you at the interview process) as well as talking to some recent grads from the school. I actually printed out the syllabi for each class and compared them to the syllabi from other schools. I played 20 questions with some of the staff and the admissions coordinator. I then broadened my scope to people who are currently working in the field. From both retail to hospital settings, new hires and established staff members. I daresay that I am not naive, but then again I am going in with the knowledge that the profession is not what it was 4 years ago. So I do have an advantage that you did not. I believe that I understand where you are coming from, but because you had a bad experience doesn't mean the entire profession is tumbling around you. I have no basis to believe you over the school. Maybe part of your problem was yourself? Though I doubt that could be it.. most people won't admit they could have tried harder or done more. It is always much easier to blame something or someone else. Either way I truly wish you the best of luck.
 

Hermes 2000

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...Either way I truly wish you the best of luck...

Thank you and I appreciate it.

But in my defense I must state that I was in no way a lazy or thoughtless student. The school I attended was decent. The faculty changed during my academic years and the value system of the fearless head dead moved from an area of academic excellence to an area of pure capitalism. I'm well aware that you have no reason to believe me over an academic institution. But, really, the school is going to tell you the truth? Like they're going to turn away potential business?! They care more about your tuition then the profession itself. Student enrollment dropped for the class of 2013 and my Alma mater responded by decreasing admission standards in order to fill tuition requirements. They'll do and say anything to ensure the continued spinning of the money wheel. Why, I once confided in a professor that I had ideations of returning to school for another career and this professor reflexively said, "Do it. Don't wait. Get out".

Yes, what I type here are reflections of my personal experience. And yes, I did attend pharmacy school at a weird time; 2008 was right in the midst of the Great Recession and so I'm now dealing with the realities of graduating into a weaker economy. All true. But I do want to impress on those reading this thread that I was not an apathetic student mindlessly traipsing through the pharmacy world. I, technically, did everything correct: went to a decent school for me and my budget; did well in school; participated in extra curricular activities; networked as much as I could (I don't know everyone but I tried); and obtained my license. I, and others, did this and we were still met with friction.

Judging from your typing you sound convinced that things will work out smoothly for you and I genuinely hope that they do. I don't wish for others to be in the morass that I am now in. But I do want others considering a career in pharmacy to be realistic with themselves. I'm now in the process of moving to a different location in search of employment and I think this relocation will prove beneficial. We'll see. This last year, however, has been eye opening. Whatever the outcome I've decided that I'm going to devote my spare time preparing for a career shift. I simply don't trust where pharmacy is heading.

In any case, I wish you well.
 
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Skrumpy

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Thank you and I appreciate it.

But in my defense I must state that I was in no way a lazy or thoughtless student. The school I attended was decent. The faculty changed during my academic years and the value system of the fearless head dead moved from an area of academic excellence to an area of pure capitalism. I'm well aware that you have no reason to believe me over an academic institution. But, really, the school is going to tell you the truth? Like they're going to turn away potential business?! They care more about your tuition then the profession itself. Student enrollment dropped for the class of 2013 and my Alma mater responded by decreasing admission standards in order to fill tuition requirements. They'll do and say anything to enure the continued spinning of the money wheel. Why, I once confided in a professor that I had ideations of returning to school for another career and this professor reflexively said, "Do it. Don't wait. Get out".

Yes, what I type here are reflections of my personal experience. And yes, I did attend pharmacy school at a weird time; 2008 was right in the midst of the Great Recession and so I'm now dealing with the realities of graduating into a weaker economy. All true. But I do want to impress on those reading this thread that I was not an apathetic student mindlessly traipsing through the pharmacy world. I, technically, did everything correct: went to a decent school for me and my budget; did well in school; participated in extra curricular activities; networked as much as I could (I don't know everyone but I tried); and obtained my license. I, and others, did this and we were still met with friction.

Judging from your typing you sound convinced that things will work out smoothly for you and I genuinely hope that they do. I don't wish for others to be in the morass that I am now in. But I do want others considering a career in pharmacy to be realistic with themselves. I'm now in the process of moving to a different location in search of employment and I think this relocation will prove beneficial. We'll see. This last year, however, has been eye opening. Whatever the outcome I've decided that I'm going to devote my spare time preparing for a career shift. I simply don't trust where pharmacy is heading.

In any case, I wish you well.

I made those comments not to imply that you were lazy and incompetent, but most people tend to not look to their own faults as being contributing factors in their current situation. It's human nature and we all do it. Maybe you did do everything in your power to get the most out of your investment, I don't have all the facts, but from what I see on a daily basis that is not the norm. I fully agree with you that institutions are money making machines. Unfortunately, this is how life is and it will be something you encounter throughout your career. We all operate somewhat in response to reward, but businesses (as all institutions even "non-profits") are driven with this singular goal in mind. The question then becomes is your desire to remain a pharmacist greater than your desire to make "easy" money? Do you really love the profession or just the paycheck? If your answer is the former, I would ask you to list how you personally have been involved in pushing the field forward in the direction you believe it should be moving. You are more than just a cog in the wheel, you can get active in promoting pharmacy.. by figuring out what is "wrong" and helping to move the profession in a healthier direction. True, it would just be easier to sit back and watch the train wreck in slow motion, it is even easier to pretend that it doesn't exist, but it is hard as hell to get involved and to make a difference, simply because there is no immediate personal payoff (other than the personal satisfaction).

Your professor who said, "Do it. Don't wait. Get out", was he saying this because if you don't have the proverbial chops to wade through the current market you should find another job? That is what I would say to a pharmacy student that came up to me questioning whether or not they should be a pharmacist. If you don't have the resolve from day 1 that you are in it through thick and thin, then do it, don't wait, get out. What was your interest in going into pharmacy in the first place? Were you one of those straight out of high school, I want to go into pharmacy to help people (for that sweet 120k paycheck) after an easy 4 years? I see so many kids going into pharmacy without any knowledge of the profession whatsoever and it is really disturbing to say the least. They don't have any clue what they are getting themselves into, they only see the paycheck at the end of the rainbow. I feel sorry for those people. I truly enjoy pharmacy and I will do what I can to help the profession grow. I don't plan on being a mindless automaton, a worker-bee. Maybe it will end poorly for me, maybe the pharmacy profession will evaporate, maybe I'll be one of the last few waving the white flag, and maybe I'll be back here at some point in the future and I will have to eat my words. If that future does come to pass, it won't be from lack of working my ass off to promote a profession that many entering practitioners apparently have little to no respect for. I won't go down without a fight and I know that I'm not alone. I don't have any delusions that the path will be smooth, but I am certain that the path will still be there, even if I have to carve one myself.
 

BMBiology

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General obvious comments? Oh like your general obvious comments about how the pharmacy profession sucks? "you do know an MBA is useless," hey thanks for the specifics there. It looks as if I'm not the only one who can post vague commentary without any supporting evidence. Looking at your post history it is quite obvious that you are drawn to these types of threads like a moth to a flame. You hate your life.. we understand. You wish you had chosen something else.. trust us we wish you had as well. No one in my state could graduate with 250-300k in loans, even if they tried. I could go get 3 PhDs, a PharmD/MBA, and add in my undergrad and still come out well under that. I honestly don't know what random number generator you get your "facts and figures" from but the one kid on the forums who made idiotic life choices doesn't make up the vast majority of us. I don't expect that we'll have any affect on your continuing to post this type of trite, my only hope is that those coming to this thread (and the others you attempt to poison) will research for themselves what they are getting into and make intelligent choices before buying whatever crap you're trying to shove down their throat.

There's no need to make personal attacks because we don't agree. I, however, dispute your numbers. Sounds like you will be going to the University of Minnesota since you said it is the 3rd ranked pharmacy school. Here's the tuition and living cost from the school's website: http://www.pharmacy.umn.edu/pharmd/admissions/costs/index.htm

(1) Instate tuition: $23,096 per year (must pay an additional semester of fee in the 4th year)
(2) Living cost, fees and other expenses: $18,858

I did a similar analysis on the cost of pharmacy school in another thread where I used $25,000 for tuition and $20,000 for living cost, fees, etc., which is similar to the cost of attending your school: http://mobile.sdn.net/showthread.php?t=989770

Based on my calculation, you will owe more than $200,000 by the time you graduate. You can punch in the numbers yourself by using the calculator in that thread and I am sure you will get a similar number. That's the magic of compounding interest. In addition, other costs have not been included in the calculation so most likely, I am underestimating the true cost:

(1) There's a limit to how much Stafford loan (6.8% interest rate) you can borrow. Most students end up borrowing Grad Plus loan which has 7.9% interest rate and 4% federal origination fee.
(2) I am not taking into consideration that tuition and living cost tend to go up every year
(3) I am not including loans from undergraduate

I know you mentioned about applying for a scholarships but that's more of an exception, so is working full-time while you are in school. Your financial situation may be different since you seem to be an older applicant but I think it is fair to say your numbers are way off for most pharmacy students. You claimed to have done a thorough research but I don't think you have even calculated how much it will cost you to attend pharmacy school.

Here's the list of tuition at other pharmacy schools: http://www.aacp.org/resources/student/pharmacyforyou/admissions/documents/table 12.pdf

Would I have attended pharmacy school? Sure, I would. I graduated at the right time and like my colleagues, we did pretty well. I paid off my student loans in just 3 years. I don't think that's possible today. Things have changed and it's only going to get worse.
 

y0ssarian87

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There's no need to make personal attacks because we don't agree. I, however, dispute your numbers. Sounds like you will be going to the University of Minnesota since you said it is the 3rd ranked pharmacy school. Here's the tuition and living cost from the school's website: http://www.pharmacy.umn.edu/pharmd/admissions/costs/index.htm

(1) Instate tuition: $23,096 per year (must pay an additional semester of fee in the 4th year)
(2) Living cost, fees and other expenses: $18,858

I did a similar analysis on the cost of pharmacy school in another thread where I used $25,000 for tuition and $20,000 for living cost, fees, etc., which is similar to the cost of attending your school: http://mobile.sdn.net/showthread.php?t=989770

Based on my calculation, you will owe more than $200,000 by the time you graduate. You can punch in the numbers yourself by using the calculator in that thread and I am sure you will get a similar number. That's the magic of compounding interest. In addition, other costs have not been included in the calculation so most likely, I am underestimating the true cost:

(1) There's a limit to how much Stafford loan (6.8% interest rate) you can borrow. Most students end up borrowing Grad Plus loan which has 7.9% interest rate and 4% federal origination fee.
(2) I am not taking into consideration that tuition and living cost tend to go up every year
(3) I am not including loans from undergraduate

I know you mentioned about applying for a scholarships but that's more of an exception, so is working full-time while you are in school. Your financial situation may be different since you seem to be an older applicant but I think it is fair to say your numbers are way off for most pharmacy students. You claimed to have done a thorough research but I don't think you have even calculated how much it will cost you to attend pharmacy school.

Here's the list of tuition at other pharmacy schools: http://www.aacp.org/resources/student/pharmacyforyou/admissions/documents/table 12.pdf

Would I have attended pharmacy school? Sure, I would. I graduated at the right time and like my colleagues, we did pretty well. I paid off my student loans in just 3 years. I don't think that's possible today. Things have changed and it's only going to get worse.

I have to agree with BMBiology on this point. I, too, am looking at attending UMN (if I get off the waitlist) or University of Maryland, both of which I think are good schools. It scares the hell out of me that I have $40k in loans from 5.5 years in undergrad and that I will be taking out about $250k in loans before interest gets compounded, as both schools are out of state for me. I have a couple of scholarships pending, but I have no clue how big those will be. I am not exaggerating when I say it scares me; I have often thought about scrapping this entire idea and starting over, and I have had nightmares. I think the reason I keep with it despite the bleak outlook is that it's something I care about and want to do. Part of me is also scared to start all over when I know this is something I really enjoy. I can only hope that the job market gets better nationwide, but I certainly am not going into it with high expectations. Being in Los Angeles, I can definitely see the difficulty in the market here.

Maybe I'll marry into money...
 

Skrumpy

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There's no need to make personal attacks because we don't agree. I, however, dispute your numbers. Sounds like you will be going to the University of Minnesota since you said it is the 3rd ranked pharmacy school. Here's the tuition and living cost from the school's website: http://www.pharmacy.umn.edu/pharmd/admissions/costs/index.htm

(1) Instate tuition: $23,096 per year (must pay an additional semester of fee in the 4th year)
(2) Living cost, fees and other expenses: $18,858

I did a similar analysis on the cost of pharmacy school in another thread where I used $25,000 for tuition and $20,000 for living cost, fees, etc., which is similar to the cost of attending your school: http://mobile.sdn.net/showthread.php?t=989770

Based on my calculation, you will owe more than $200,000 by the time you graduate. You can punch in the numbers yourself by using the calculator in that thread and I am sure you will get a similar number. That's the magic of compounding interest. In addition, other costs have not been included in the calculation so most likely, I am underestimating the true cost:

(1) There's a limit to how much Stafford loan (6.8% interest rate) you can borrow. Most students end up borrowing Grad Plus loan which has 7.9% interest rate and 4% federal origination fee.
(2) I am not taking into consideration that tuition and living cost tend to go up every year
(3) I am not including loans from undergraduate

I know you mentioned about applying for a scholarships but that's more of an exception, so is working full-time while you are in school. Your financial situation may be different since you seem to be an older applicant but I think it is fair to say your numbers are way off for most pharmacy students. You claimed to have done a thorough research but I don't think you have even calculated how much it will cost you to attend pharmacy school.

Here's the list of tuition at other pharmacy schools: http://www.aacp.org/resources/student/pharmacyforyou/admissions/documents/table 12.pdf

Would I have attended pharmacy school? Sure, I would. I graduated at the right time and like my colleagues, we did pretty well. I paid off my student loans in just 3 years. I don't think that's possible today. Things have changed and it's only going to get worse.

They were not personal attacks, merely observations based on the evidence. Also you should not include living costs in terms of tuition. You can live in group homes (with 4-5 other students) for $200/mo RIGHT ON CAMPUS here in MN (thus no transportation costs). You can also live the life of luxury in your own private high-end "student" condo for $1500 a month also right on campus. These are actual figures not hyperbole from someone who is pulling numbers out of a magic hat. So should I calculate $1500/mo into the "costs" of higher education? My education will cost me $115,480 + $20,000 in fees and their health benefit plan. Those are costs that I cannot control. I can control my cost of living, i.e. if I am living in high-end condos and eating sushi every night I will pay much more than if I am living in group housing and eating ramen noodles. If you are taking loans out to cover the cost of living then you are "doing it wrong." You also don't seem to take into account any work during these 4 years. If you consider a FT job during the summer, work during the breaks and casual work during school (~2 weekends/mo at most) I am personally looking at $27,000 (before taxes) per year. This is working a single job without sacrificing time spent on studying or having a "life". Depending on the job/pay there are going to be tailored variations to this number but you seem to discount it outright in your estimations. This is enough to easily "subsidize" my loans AND cover the costs of living while going through school. This isn't something that is unrealistic for other students to incorporate into their plans as well. Live like a student now, so you don't have to later.

Now if I want to live the "easy" life through school and take out max Stafford loans and even private loans (yes I agree these people exist), go to Cancun every spring break and spend my summer money on clothes and shoes.. yea I could see how 300k wouldn't be out of the question. If anything your calculations are a good indicator of what irresponsible frivolity can amount to, but it is a far cry from what every pharmacy student will experience when they get out into the real world. I agree with you that paying off loans in 3 years would be difficult without the incentives that existed pre-recession, maybe even impossible (without working more than a single job or picking up readily available OT). However, even with modest pay estimates, well below what current practicing pharmacists are making, I've calculated (using the debt snowball method) that I can pay off my student loans comfortably in 4-5 years and be completely debt free in 7-8 (that includes home, car, etc). I personally don't think that is an unreasonable length of time. So while I appreciate your words of warning, and your keen insight into the dangers of unsubsidized compounding interest, there are those of us who are aware of those dangers and still see pharmacy as a highly lucrative field with good prospects for those who are willing to put in the time and effort.
 
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