May 30, 2013
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I caught up with some classmates today, and from speaking to other pharmacists all the time, I realized that pharmacists hate their lives. Main reasons are:

1) Jobs are stressful. CVS and Walgreens, where most people are employed. Enough said. People no longer have the option to leave due to saturation.

2) Student loan. Lots of pharmacists I know are paying back around $2000/month towards student loan, that is A LOT of cash post tax. PLUS 33+% tax for all the single people out there, the take home money after everything is not as much as people think. So post tax and student loan, people are hustling their lives away to get $4000 a month, could have learned that much with a bachelor or masters degree, or being a successful plumber with no degrees.

3) The way pharmacists are treated. Not every pharmacist, but lots of pharmacists are treated like dirt. No lunch breaks, no pee breaks, no breaks, working 14 hours straight on one's feet, one person doing three people's jobs, etc. There is no prescription to pharmacist ratio. we are expected to handle the maximum, even the impossible. And there is nothing we can do, because guess what, there is a LINE of new grads waiting to take your job if you don't want it. Have you guys ever told your non-pharmacy friends your daily life at work? I have, and my friends are shocked to learn the way pharmacists are treated, they don't even believe me!

4) Having to move to undesirable areas for work. This is happening more and more, pharmacists are moving to rural/undesirable areas due to saturation in any decent place to live. This means moving away from familiarity, family/friends, culture, things a metropolitan offers, or good school districts. Although I am lucky enough to have never done it, but I can only imagine how hard it is to move to a ghetto, undesirable, rural area by yourself. Your quality of life goes straight to hell.

5) Non M-F 9-5 jobs. Most pharmacy jobs are not your regular Monday through Friday, no holidays, no weekends, 9 - 5 jobs. Many pharmacists work late into the evening and work every other weekends, this means missing events, if you have some sort of social life. This also means missing spending at least some holidays with your loved ones.

6) No job satisfaction. Aside from being spit on, having your life threatened, and being disrespected constantly, many fields of pharmacy work are extremely boring and repetitive. You're verifying all day every day, very little to no variation from day to day. In retail chains, employers don't value you, you can be replaced anytime. There is hardly any room to move up, you become a pharmacy manager/PIC, then what? For hospital staff pharmacists, you MAY become a clinical pharmacist, or maybe the director of pharmacy, but most likely not happening, especially in a good area.

Any other reasons pharmacy sucks? Any happy pharmacists out there somewhere?
 
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Looks like fast food is better than pharmacy, no loans needed.
 
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BMBiology

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(7) It's a PRN job for new grads. They work when they are needed and only when they do a good job (based on metrics). Many of them don't work enough hours to get health benefits.

The chains love to overhire because they know many of the new grads won't make it. They are not guaranteed any hours. They just wait for the scheduler to contact them, sometimes just hours before they are scheduled to work.

(8) The professors are training students for a job that does not exist outside of academia. They love to talk about clinical pharmacy but ask them how they are getting paid. Their cushion job in their little clinic doesn't pay them a dime....your tuition does.

(9) Even new grads who completed a residency are struggling. Hospitals have been cutting their budget and it is becoming harder to justify paying someone 130 k a year for clinical works that he can't even bill.

That being said, I am a pretty happy pharmacist mainly because I graduated during the "golden days" of pharmacy (2000-2008) when there was a major shortage of pharmacists. I landed a well paying position without a residency. I was able to pay off my loans within a few years and I invested early. It is not the same anymore and I feel bad for the new grads. People in academia got greedy and the new grads are paying the price.
 
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OP
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(7) It's a PRN job for new grads. They work when they are needed and only when they do a good job (based on metrics). Many of them don't work enough hours to get health benefits.
People might not believe this, but its true. It was happening at the chain I was working for. Floaters are now getting around and sometimes dipping below 30 hours. Better marry someone with health benefits.
also, you graduated plus or minus 10 years ago, its not THAT far back. its just crazy how pharmacy changed in the past 10 to 15 years. can you imagine what the next 10 years will bring?
 
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Gombrich12

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Dec 4, 2013
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10) Uncompensated time. Due to declining reimbursements tech hours have been cut drastically in retail. You may end up staying 30 minutes late or coming in 30 minutes early (or more) each day. This adds up to a lot of unpaid hours over the course of a year. Also, if you take a pharmacist-in-charge position you will most likely be going to unpaid corporate meetings throughout the year, possibly on your day off.

11) Increasing liability without compensation. Pharmacists no longer just dispense medications, they are now expected to provide all sorts of immunizations with very little training. Do you know the guidelines for the 15 immunizations allowed in your state? Do you have time to read them carefully when you are doing 500 scripts a day? You will have an incident while immunizing, just hope it is minor.
 
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10) Uncompensated time. Due to declining reimbursements tech hours have been cut drastically in retail. You may end up staying 30 minutes late or coming in 30 minutes early (or more) each day. This adds up to a lot of unpaid hours over the course of a year. Also, if you take a pharmacist-in-charge position you will most likely be going to unpaid corporate meetings throughout the year, possibly on your day off.

11) Increasing liability without compensation. Pharmacists no longer just dispense medications, they are now expected to provide all sorts of immunizations with very little training. Do you know the guidelines for the 15 immunizations allowed in your state? Do you have time to read them carefully when you are doing 500 scripts a day? You will have an incident while immunizing, just hope it is minor.
while i havent had an incident while immunizing, as far as i know. my friend just told me today that she gave a flu shot to someone who was getting a pneumonia shot. lol also, i know a coworker gave a wrong shot to a patient too.
generally, i just give the shot and hope for the best. i tell my parents to NOT go to any pharmacy because we all know pharmacists are so careless and got no time to take care of their patients. just come to me and i will take my time and double check everything for them lolol
 
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PumpkinSmasher

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I agree with most of everything listed by the OP but I must say I am one of the happy pharmacists. I landed a great job in ambulatory care, fully clinical with no dispensing duties.
1) 7:30-4pm hours and I can flex as I see fit to allow for scheduling my patients. no weekends/holidays, 40hrs/week, pension/health/401k matches/ great PTO package.
2) Fully funded by health system, no academia funding
3) I bill two insurance carriers right now, don't make money but break even for my time when I am billing.
4) Medical and pharmacy management are proponents of clinical pharmacy, they see the value to pts and the other providers on site. It also helps that the doctors/NPs/PAs I work with consistently report that they feel more confident and better supported with clinical pharmacy in house, and find great value in being able to refer pts for mgmt or consult questions.
5) Located in major metro city, highly desirable city for young professionals. Saturated pharmacy market though...

When my interns ask me how they get my job, I am honest with them..there just are not that many of these positions out there and you will probably need PGY2 in ambcare these days. Pharmacy is a tough gig these days, retail is a poor use of the education you paid out the ass for and the other jobs are few and far between. Best of luck to the students, you are going to need it...it is dog eat dog out there.
 

farmadiazepine

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Jul 10, 2011
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These are all problems of working in chain retail pharmacy. I am a firm believer that pharmacy is what you make of it. Not everyone is ready to jump in and get their feet wet. Not everyone is willing to take risk. I quit my job at CVS. I am now unemployed. I am going to make myself successful. It's what you make of it and what opportunities you make for yourself. Also, a little bit of luck wouldn't hurt.
 
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Jun 20, 2014
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I caught up with some classmates today, and from speaking to other pharmacists all the time, I realized that pharmacists hate their lives. Main reasons are:

1) Jobs are stressful. CVS and Walgreens, where most people are employed. Enough said. People no longer have the option to leave due to saturation.

2) Student loan. Lots of pharmacists I know are paying back around $2000/month towards student loan, that is A LOT of cash post tax. PLUS 33+% tax for all the single people out there, the take home money after everything is not as much as people think. So post tax and student loan, people are hustling their lives away to get $4000 a month, could have learned that much with a bachelor or masters degree, or being a successful plumber with no degrees.

3) The way pharmacists are treated. Not every pharmacist, but lots of pharmacists are treated like dirt. No lunch breaks, no pee breaks, no breaks, working 14 hours straight on one's feet, one person doing three people's jobs, etc. There is no prescription to pharmacist ratio. we are expected to handle the maximum, even the impossible. And there is nothing we can do, because guess what, there is a LINE of new grads waiting to take your job if you don't want it. Have you guys ever told your non-pharmacy friends your daily life at work? I have, and my friends are shocked to learn the way pharmacists are treated, they don't even believe me!

4) Having to move to undesirable areas for work. This is happening more and more, pharmacists are moving to rural/undesirable areas due to saturation in any decent place to live. This means moving away from familiarity, family/friends, culture, things a metropolitan offers, or good school districts. Although I am lucky enough to have never done it, but I can only imagine how hard it is to move to a ghetto, undesirable, rural area by yourself. Your quality of life goes straight to hell.

5) Non M-F 9-5 jobs. Most pharmacy jobs are not your regular Monday through Friday, no holidays, no weekends, 9 - 5 jobs. Many pharmacists work late into the evening and work every other weekends, this means missing events, if you have some sort of social life. This also means missing spending at least some holidays with your loved ones.

6) No job satisfaction. Aside from being spit on, having your life threatened, and being disrespected constantly, many fields of pharmacy work are extremely boring and repetitive. You're verifying all day every day, very little to no variation from day to day. In retail chains, employers don't value you, you can be replaced anytime. There is hardly any room to move up, you become a pharmacy manager/PIC, then what? For hospital staff pharmacists, you MAY become a clinical pharmacist, or maybe the director of pharmacy, but most likely not happening, especially in a good area.

Any other reasons pharmacy sucks? Any happy pharmacists out there somewhere?

your user name is very misleading. you should be named glass half empty. lol
 

MatCauthon

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Sep 15, 2008
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(7) It's a PRN job for new grads. They work when they are needed and only when they do a good job (based on metrics). Many of them don't work enough hours to get health benefits.

(9) Even new grads who completed a residency are struggling. Hospitals have been cutting their budget and it is becoming harder to justify paying someone 130 k a year for clinical works that he can't even bill.
I tried to make a post about this 2 years ago and nobody took me seriously. Employers love PRN jobs. The pharmacies I've been working at have 1-2 staff pharmacists and fill the rest of their hours with prn. I work at one chain that hires all new graduates as PRN (unless they are really lucky) with no benefits. Even if one works 40 hours a week for 2 years they are not eligible for benefits, according to our chain. Chains love being able to weed out the problem pharmacists before they have to commit to them.

PRN jobs can actually be great for a time, but just wait until they decide to cut hours. I've had a few very stressful months where I lost all of my hours at one particular chain. If employees are ever laid off in a pharmacy, the PRN employees are first to get chopped.

When I graduated, it was still possible to accept PRN jobs to obtain training in hospital pharmacy and other areas. This is how I got into hospital pharmacy. Now there are too many residency trained pharmacists, out of work that are applying to these PRN jobs.
 

Sugoi Travis

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Love SDN! Thanks for the post!

While I'm not a happy pharmacist, nor anywhere near that road (I still have to get into school first, if I feel like committing self-inflicted harm later, haha) - would you mind telling us how you a student can gain an "advantage" over his fellow competitors (those graduating from the same class) into retail?
Here's your question.

Seems like the best route to gain an advantage in getting a foot into retail as soon as possible is to work at a CVS/Walgreen's/supermarket DURING pharmacy school as an intern after P1, ALL YEAR-round through the P4 year, as opposed to just a summer, in order to establish some continuity and trust with fellow employees and bosses.
And here's your answer. On top of that, you can reinforce what you learned in your drug classes while working as an intern.
 

Aznfarmerboi

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I do not recommend pharmacy to anybody who asks me so. I tell my interns to find back up plans now a day when talking to them about life. I tell them to network, be AMAZING during their rotations, out going with pharmacy managers, etc in case they do not get an offer with us.

But I, like BMBiology graduated during the golden years of pharmacy. Tuition was around 20k... (versus 30-40k now). I graduated with a lot of loans but paid them off quickly. In my first few years, I was making 160-200k thanks to overtime.

I got good raises (over 6 percent) back then, and negotiated hard because good pharmacy managers are hard to find, and still highly in demand now. I am capped making over 150k base.. in a "unicorn" store. I tell grads that there's no good stores... it is what you make out of it. All stores have their own challenges whether it is the market, work flow, etc. I worked in a lot of these stores and turned them into "unicorn" stores.

I am also lucky because I graduated during the 2nd greatest recession so all of my investments did extremely well. My 401k has 6 figure balances thanks to my generous match.

I do not regret going into pharmacy. I dont think I could have done better else where. Every profession has its own challenges. Most lawyers are currently struggling, making 40 to 60k if not unemployed, went to school longer, and have more debt than we do. I have friends in finance that will eventually do better but they work long hours. They also dont have that job security like we do. I think we are also better off than primary care and pediatricians when you think about the extra years they spend in medical school and residency. Im already 600k ahead from having 6 extra years of working. They work more hours to make that 2-250k... (55 versus our 40), and have more debt. After taxes and proper investments, we come out ahead...
 

BMBiology

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I tried to make a post about this 2 years ago and nobody took me seriously. Employers love PRN jobs. The pharmacies I've been working at have 1-2 staff pharmacists and fill the rest of their hours with prn. I work at one chain that hires all new graduates as PRN (unless they are really lucky) with no benefits. Even if one works 40 hours a week for 2 years they are not eligible for benefits, according to our chain. Chains love being able to weed out the problem pharmacists before they have to commit to them.

PRN jobs can actually be great for a time, but just wait until they decide to cut hours. I've had a few very stressful months where I lost all of my hours at one particular chain. If employees are ever laid off in a pharmacy, the PRN employees are first to get chopped.

When I graduated, it was still possible to accept PRN jobs to obtain training in hospital pharmacy and other areas. This is how I got into hospital pharmacy. Now there are too many residency trained pharmacists, out of work that are applying to these PRN jobs.
It works well for employers. Add hours during winter and cut hours during summer. No benefits. No paid time off. Some just hire contract workers so they can just pass the employer's portion of the social security and medicare tax to the pharmacist. I am sure they can save at least 30% by doing all of these things.

It is what it is. I just report what I see and think is happening.
 

stoichiometrist

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Aug 2, 2011
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Agree with #2. Pharmacy has become a horrible investment relative to other fields. The people I know who went the computer science or engineering routes seem immensely more satisfied with their jobs than the pharmacists I know. Most of them have little or no student debt remaining, and some are already buying houses. Not all of them have to spend long hours at work, contrary to popular belief.
 

PhoenixFire

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3) The way pharmacists are treated. Not every pharmacist, but lots of pharmacists are treated like dirt. No lunch breaks, no pee breaks, no breaks, working 14 hours straight on one's feet, one person doing three people's jobs, etc.
I noticed that pharmacists at places I worked as a tech didn't take lunch breaks. Is it because they don't want to, or because they are not allowed to?
 
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Agree with #2. Pharmacy has become a horrible investment relative to other fields. The people I know who went the computer science or engineering routes seem immensely more satisfied with their jobs than the pharmacists I know. Most of them have little or no student debt remaining, and some are already buying houses. Not all of them have to spend long hours at work, contrary to popular belief.
i did flu clinic at a huge local software engineering place, from chatting with the people there, i realized that software engineering is a growing field, whereas pharmacy is dying down. their company is expanding tremendously, added many buildings in my city in the past few years, whereas pharmacies, mail order, hospitals and here closing down, laying off people, are cutting hours. also, a starting salary of a software engineer in that company is $90k, for someone with bachelor degree. i gave girl a flu shot who just graduated college at the age of 22, shes already making $90k with very little student debt (from going to a great public university locally). Also gave a flu shot to a senior engineer who has been working for that company since the 1990s, hes making well into $200k with bonus.

after giving flu shots to like 100+ software engineers that day, i realized, theyre doing really well, and almost all said the job market is great, they were able to negotiate their offers, and they continue to get calls from difference companies and recruiters all the time.

on the other hand, my pharmacist friends here in coastal socal are doing horribly, most people here in california went to undergrad for 4 years and pharmacy school for another 4 years, so theyre at least 26 - 27 when they start, also they are paying back $2000 +/- post tax a month for 10 +/- years to pay back debt plus the high cost of living and also the a 2 bedroom condo in my area cost $350 - 400k to buy a 2 bedroom apartment rent is around 1800 a month, then again, the lovely little bubble i live in is really expensive, not as bad as the bay area though, pharmacists are going to be renting well into their 40s here in the good parts of socal and the bay area. lol
 
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MatCauthon

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i did flu clinic at a huge local software engineering place, from chatting with the people there, i realized that software engineering is a growing field, whereas pharmacy is dying down. their company is expanding tremendously, added many buildings in my city in the past few years, whereas pharmacies, mail order, hospitals and here closing down, laying off people, are cutting hours. also, a starting salary of a software engineer in that company is $90k, for someone with bachelor degree. i gave girl a flu shot who just graduated college at the age of 22, shes already making $90k with very little student debt (from going to a great public university locally). Also gave a flu shot to a senior engineer who has been working for that company since the 1990s, hes making well into $200k with bonus.

after giving flu shots to like 100+ software engineers that day, i realized, theyre doing really well, and almost all said the job market is great, they were able to negotiate their offers, and they continue to get calls from difference companies and recruiters all the time.

on the other hand, my pharmacist friends here in coastal socal are doing horribly, most people here in california went to undergrad for 4 years and pharmacy school for another 4 years, so theyre at least 26 - 27 when they start, also they are paying back $2000 +/- post tax a month for 10 +/- years to pay back debt plus the high cost of living and also the a 2 bedroom condo in my area cost $350 - 400k to buy a 2 bedroom apartment rent is around 1800 a month, then again, the lovely little bubble i live in is really expensive, not as bad as the bay area though, pharmacists are going to be renting well into their 40s here in the good parts of socal and the bay area. lol
All careers go in cycles. Everybody and their brother is trying to get into software and computer engineering right now. It is the hot field. Competition is massive-- there will be a glut of these engineers soon enough. The engineering life can be brutal: long hours during projects, potential for moving often, layoffs, frequently having to learn new coding languages, etc. It is all project-based. Anyway, just wait a few and this field will be saturated as well. International competition also raises the bar.
 
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Everybody has different reasons for choosing their field or career, it's not always just about compensation but interest, etc. I do know plenty of happy pharmDs in my graduating class and pharmacists who were happy with their career (more or less) as my preceptors. I should also add I have friends who just did their bachelors and are very happy, earning a pretty decent salary, living in the city they want to, and doing job they like or somewhat related to their major( not the case for everybody but many).

Personally, I more or less regret picking this field. I was 17 years old when I got into the pharmacy program and wanted to do medicine, not for the money, but because I was incredibly passionate about it, but after talking to other family members who were once pre-med and switched, a lot of docs/pharmacists in my family, and parental encouragement, pharmacy sounded more practical in a sense: reasonable hours, good pay, stability, easy to find work and in the health field.

If you read the new republic pharmacy bubble is about to burst article, many of the points there were good as to what are some limitations in pharmacy. First, you have very little diversity of opportunities as to what you can do as a pharmacist. A huge majority go into this field to do retail, the rest hospital, and the less in other sorts of jobs. I had mainly gone into pharmacy for hospital pharmacy, which wasn't realistic given the saturation and the fact that most of the jobs are available in retail. Otherwise, there are very rare opportunities to do something else, especially considering the saturation and the upsurge in residency interest which are making these opportunities incredibly rare and difficult to obtain.
Most of the time in school too, pharmacy students just stuck to the program niche and there was no encouragement for us to venture out and seek research opportunities or do something with heavier clinical or broad healthcare involvement. I've seen research involvement, public health interest, international development/global health interest in other professions but there was none at my pharmacy school. I used to sometimes attend meetings that were primarily nursing students, MD students or public health students from a different school because my school didn't have the interest nor encouragement for that type of involvement.
And even in many residency programs, they're still interested in students who are moreso sticklers for pharmacy. I was an EMT, did research with a post-doc student, health-related stuff that I put on my resume but one of the residency directors who was interviewing me said "you seem to be involved in way more things than I've ever been in my life" and he had his HR recruiter with him too co-interviewing me who told me I seemed "too serious about school". lol. I unfortunately didn't have retail experience or hospital experience due to the saturation, and they weren't too happy about that even though I tried to back it up by talking about the other experiences I did have.
The worst part about it all is the saturation. There aren't ideal 9-5 jobs anymore, there actually are very few jobs in comparison to the number of graduates, the work environment is not "easy" at all. Going to pharmacy specifically for hospital or clinical opportunities is very tough these days.

I regret not going down my initial intended pre-med pathway or doing a double-major/minor in some computer science field to work in a public health/epidemiology capacity but what can I do. All I can do is move forward. I have my first pharmacy interview tomorrow so I'm hoping for the best and trying to stay positive, but have accepted alternatives and will keep my head up even if it doesn't pan out.
 
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Jul 2, 2013
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i did flu clinic at a huge local software engineering place, from chatting with the people there, i realized that software engineering is a growing field, whereas pharmacy is dying down. their company is expanding tremendously, added many buildings in my city in the past few years, whereas pharmacies, mail order, hospitals and here closing down, laying off people, are cutting hours. also, a starting salary of a software engineer in that company is $90k, for someone with bachelor degree. i gave girl a flu shot who just graduated college at the age of 22, shes already making $90k with very little student debt (from going to a great public university locally). Also gave a flu shot to a senior engineer who has been working for that company since the 1990s, hes making well into $200k with bonus.

after giving flu shots to like 100+ software engineers that day, i realized, theyre doing really well, and almost all said the job market is great, they were able to negotiate their offers, and they continue to get calls from difference companies and recruiters all the time.

on the other hand, my pharmacist friends here in coastal socal are doing horribly, most people here in california went to undergrad for 4 years and pharmacy school for another 4 years, so theyre at least 26 - 27 when they start, also they are paying back $2000 +/- post tax a month for 10 +/- years to pay back debt plus the high cost of living and also the a 2 bedroom condo in my area cost $350 - 400k to buy a 2 bedroom apartment rent is around 1800 a month, then again, the lovely little bubble i live in is really expensive, not as bad as the bay area though, pharmacists are going to be renting well into their 40s here in the good parts of socal and the bay area. lol
I don't know how software engineering/CS will ultimately fare as interest is surging quite quickly, but one of the great things is the diversity of opportunities you can have. I'm from the bay area, so there are a lot of cool startup company opportunities here. I have a friend who works at Google (not a software engineer/CS), which looks like a cool place to work in for a few years, although I have heard mixed things about working there. There is a digital health center at UCSF too which seems to be doing interesting things in the health startup sector. Unfortunately, with pharmacy, one of the problems is that your work as a pharmacist is pretty standard, more or less. Unless you can manage a residency in a specialty area and find a job in that area, then you're lucky, but most go into retail which is the same across retail chains. Clinical pharmacy seems like one of the better areas of pharmacy, but opportunities are still a bit limited unfortunately.
 

msweph

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As long as I make if another 10 years making this kind of money I'll be happy.
 

BidingMyTime

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A big selling point for pharmacy, is that you can literally (at least theoretically) work absolutely anywhere in the country. Pretty much every city, no matter how small has a pharmacy. If one has a spouse who must move often due to their job, then one doesn't have to give up their pharmacy career to move with their spouse. With software engineering, the jobs are very geographically based & limited to certain cities, not a problem if one wants to live in that city and if one doesn't have a spouse who needs to move for their job....but for many people, any perks of the job would be outweighed by that negative.
 
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I don't understand why more pharmacy students aren't interested in industry or managed care. It's a 9-5 gig usually and you can transition from one to the other which offers an opportunity to learn something new. Also you pick up on "non-pharmacy" stuff which can be quite interesting to some students.
 
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fewaopi

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is software or computer programming really that great a field? i know it's pretty limitless, probably more satisfaction, but probably competitive too and it's not available everywhere in the country. but in my area, it's being overrun with foreign H1B visas who are willing to work for 40k instead of 90 or 100k. just take a ride on the train and you'll see how many h1b's there are, tens of thousands. i even know that the programmers are stacked into rooms of 3-4 in one room for housing (not as bad as China but for American standards, pretty bad). computer fields are usually a young man's game too, read how the older workers get phased out, though that's the same everywhere. i also know a double E, comp sci major who said there are no engineering jobs except in finance.

same w/trade school. I see people saying how that's a better field than pharmacy but a trade school instructor i met said the schools are diploma mills and that the market for people coming from vocational schools is really bad and many aren't hired. i'm wondering if the grass is really greener on the other side or perhaps the grass is dead pretty much everywhere, some more so than others.

i like pharmacy for its flexibility and i do enjoy the moments where i help people and make their day a little easier or better. it can be monotonous but starting out i'm learning about myself and working with different people, good/bad almost constantly. years later i'll probably be whining and jaded but i feel fortunate compared to others.
 

BMBiology

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I don't understand why more pharmacy students aren't interested in industry or managed care. It's a 9-5 gig usually and you can transition from one to the other which offers an opportunity to learn something new. Also you pick up on "non-pharmacy" stuff which can be quite interesting to some students.
Could it be because < 1% of the jobs are in industry? Plenty of people are interested...just not enough jobs for them.

If you don't count academia, I would say about 5% of the jobs are non retail, non hospital.
 
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Could it be because < 1% of the jobs are in industry? Plenty of people are interested...just not enough jobs for them.

If you don't count academia, I would say about 5% of the jobs are non retail, non hospital.
True, you make a valid point.

But given all the perks, I would think it'd be more competitive to get a gig like that...most students want to compete for a retail spot at CVS rather than a Medical Science Liaison at Pfizer, where you get treated like a real professional since you get a credit card to expense dinners and the opportunities to travel...
 
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Everybody has different reasons for choosing their field or career, it's not always just about compensation but interest, etc. I do know plenty of happy pharmDs in my graduating class and pharmacists who were happy with their career (more or less) as my preceptors. I should also add I have friends who just did their bachelors and are very happy, earning a pretty decent salary, living in the city they want to, and doing job they like or somewhat related to their major( not the case for everybody but many).

Personally, I more or less regret picking this field. I was 17 years old when I got into the pharmacy program and wanted to do medicine, not for the money, but because I was incredibly passionate about it, but after talking to other family members who were once pre-med and switched, a lot of docs/pharmacists in my family, and parental encouragement, pharmacy sounded more practical in a sense: reasonable hours, good pay, stability, easy to find work and in the health field.

If you read the new republic pharmacy bubble is about to burst article, many of the points there were good as to what are some limitations in pharmacy. First, you have very little diversity of opportunities as to what you can do as a pharmacist. A huge majority go into this field to do retail, the rest hospital, and the less in other sorts of jobs. I had mainly gone into pharmacy for hospital pharmacy, which wasn't realistic given the saturation and the fact that most of the jobs are available in retail. Otherwise, there are very rare opportunities to do something else, especially considering the saturation and the upsurge in residency interest which are making these opportunities incredibly rare and difficult to obtain.
Most of the time in school too, pharmacy students just stuck to the program niche and there was no encouragement for us to venture out and seek research opportunities or do something with heavier clinical or broad healthcare involvement. I've seen research involvement, public health interest, international development/global health interest in other professions but there was none at my pharmacy school. I used to sometimes attend meetings that were primarily nursing students, MD students or public health students from a different school because my school didn't have the interest nor encouragement for that type of involvement.
And even in many residency programs, they're still interested in students who are moreso sticklers for pharmacy. I was an EMT, did research with a post-doc student, health-related stuff that I put on my resume but one of the residency directors who was interviewing me said "you seem to be involved in way more things than I've ever been in my life" and he had his HR recruiter with him too co-interviewing me who told me I seemed "too serious about school". lol. I unfortunately didn't have retail experience or hospital experience due to the saturation, and they weren't too happy about that even though I tried to back it up by talking about the other experiences I did have.
The worst part about it all is the saturation. There aren't ideal 9-5 jobs anymore, there actually are very few jobs in comparison to the number of graduates, the work environment is not "easy" at all. Going to pharmacy specifically for hospital or clinical opportunities is very tough these days.

I regret not going down my initial intended pre-med pathway or doing a double-major/minor in some computer science field to work in a public health/epidemiology capacity but what can I do. All I can do is move forward. I have my first pharmacy interview tomorrow so I'm hoping for the best and trying to stay positive, but have accepted alternatives and will keep my head up even if it doesn't pan out.
keep up the good work! good luck on your interview. hope itll be good news.
 

BMBiology

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True, you make a valid point.

But given all the perks, I would think it'd be more competitive to get a gig like that...most students want to compete for a retail spot at CVS rather than a Medical Science Liaison at Pfizer, where you get treated like a real professional since you get a credit card to expense dinners and the opportunities to travel...
I have to disagree with you again. It is not that students/pharmacists do not want to compete for MSL jobs. I am sure many prefer these jobs over retails. Industry jobs are very competitive and are only located in certain locations. So most students/pharmacists do not have the exposure and since experiece is the key to landing these jobs, many do not have the qualification. Of course I am not saying you can't do it but I think it is wrong to believe people are not competing for these jobs. These jobs are probably the hardest to get.
 

BMBiology

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I have my first pharmacy interview tomorrow so I'm hoping for the best and trying to stay positive, but have accepted alternatives and will keep my head up even if it doesn't pan out.
Good luck to you! Emphasize on your willingness to learn. Tell them if you are hired, you would prepare for the position before you start to work there. Send them a thank you email right after the interview and then follow up with a thank you card. Contact them within a week and tell them why you feel the position would fit you well.
 

lisinopril

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This should be "sticky" thread in the pre-pharmacy forum, not just pharmacy forum. We should alert/warn the pre-pharm as much as possible. A lot of students don't do research well enough before entering this profession.
 
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IndustryPharmD

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But given all the perks, I would think it'd be more competitive to get a gig like that...most students want to compete for a retail spot at CVS rather than a Medical Science Liaison at Pfizer, where you get treated like a real professional since you get a credit card to expense dinners and the opportunities to travel...
Because your chances of getting a retail spot at CVS as a fresh pharmacy school grad are infinitely higher (and if you get out of the "golden times of pharmacy" mindset, they are pretty easy odds still) than nearly zero chance of landing an MSL job as a fresh grad.
 

BidingMyTime

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is software or computer programming really that great a field? i know it's pretty limitless, probably more satisfaction, but probably competitive too and it's not available everywhere in the country. but in my area, it's being overrun with foreign H1B visas who are willing to work for 40k instead of 90 or 100k. just take a ride on the train and you'll see how many h1b's there are, tens of thousands. i even know that the programmers are stacked into rooms of 3-4 in one room for housing (not as bad as China but for American standards, pretty bad). computer fields are usually a young man's game too, read how the older workers get phased out, though that's the same everywhere. i also know a double E, comp sci major who said there are no engineering jobs except in finance.
same w/trade school. I see people saying how that's a better field than pharmacy but a trade school instructor i met said the schools are diploma mills and that the market for people coming from vocational schools is really bad and many aren't hired. i'm wondering if the grass is really greener on the other side or perhaps the grass is dead pretty much everywhere, some more so than others.
I totally agree. There are no unicorn career fields anymore. Pharmacy still has less competition than many other jobs, and pretty much every job has crushing debt compared to the expected salary. (except with trades, the key is NOT to go to a diploma mill school which ups someone chances of being hired as much as a technician going to tech school has their chances of being hired up.....the key is to get a real apprentice/journeymanship, of course the competition for these jobs is extremely tight, but if one is going into the trades, that is the by far the best way to do it.)
 

stoichiometrist

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Software engineering is just about as "unicorn" as you can get. $100k starting salary out of undergrad (4 years of professional education and $200k+ debt not required) with a much better work environment and the freedom to switch jobs. Many companies provide complimentary shuttle buses, catered food, nap pods, on-site gym and dry cleaning facilities, etc. Try getting those perks at a chain retail store. Yet some people still think pharmacy is more secure and higher paying (not factoring in to $40k/year in student loan payments) than software engineering...
 
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Jul 2, 2013
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Idk, most people I know who graduated with 4 year degrees have jobs, plenty have pretty decent first-time jobs obtained within few months after graduation. These ranged from accounting, business, engineering (biomedical-even in a small niche, I know of ppl who found jobs, mechanical, computer science, software, EE), federal jobs, etc. There are a bunch of kids who move on to more than one company for the first few years and finally settle down at a certain point. The drawbacks with the intention to move around jobs is a lack of knowing what to expect, salary variability, etc. but I think this works in favor for some people who probably like being in different environments, like not always knowing what to expect and having various skill sets they can work with. Pharmacy is becoming like every other job in the sense of saturation, competition, salary cuts.
There are goods and bads, for sure. You know what your job task is no matter where you work, stability, and being able to stick to one defined task as oppose to searching around and doing different things per different company, although some people may consider this a drawback. The assurance that there are pharmacies everywhere is def a plus although realistically saturation in certain areas is making this harder. At the end of the day, I just think it's beneficial to just do what you are at least mildly interested in as long as you have some realistic plan at the end. No job can give you "certainty" and I think that's what's frustrating a lot of folks in pharmacy as it is a changing environment from what it used to be
 

type b pharmD

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Ok so end of the day most days, I am obsessively in love with pharmacy.. I know I may enjoy something else , but several key factors exist that really can't be overplayed in this debate..

No other job is going to pay me 150k in an area where I can afford 100 acres of land and build my own house at this age, and not have to deal with humanity on my time off .. and this is very important to me.

No non healthcare jobs pay close and are portable to outside of major metro areas anywhere in the country. Major metro areas are going to be cesspools of class warfare, scarcity, and overcrowding over the next 30 years .

Nobody I know with a 4 year degree is making over 50k .. and they all have loans. Making 90k as an engineer or scientist in a tech city puts you pretty much at the absolute bottom of middle class... And that is if you are an all star and get hired by a hot firm.

If you are 'great' as an engineer and end up making 200k late career in silicon valley or SF .. you have not 'made it' relative to your industry .. ..
 

stoichiometrist

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No other job is going to pay me 150k in an area where I can afford 100 acres of land and build my own house at this age, and not have to deal with humanity on my time off .. and this is very important to me.

No non healthcare jobs pay close and are portable to outside of major metro areas anywhere in the country. Major metro areas are going to be cesspools of class warfare, scarcity, and overcrowding over the next 30 years .

Nobody I know with a 4 year degree is making over 50k .. and they all have loans. Making 90k as an engineer or scientist in a tech city puts you pretty much at the absolute bottom of middle class... And that is if you are an all star and get hired by a hot firm.

If you are 'great' as an engineer and end up making 200k late career in silicon valley or SF .. you have not 'made it' relative to your industry .. ..
I would also have to add that few jobs other than in software engineering can get you a $100k+ salary straight out of undergrad, or in some cases even without a degree. I would agree with you about the portability of healthcare jobs - you can live practically like a king if you're willing to relocate outside of a large metro area. However, many people on this forum (and in general) do not seem willing to move to a rural area and would like to stay in or near a major city, even if they have to accept poor job prospects, higher living costs, and take-home pay that is less than that of their peers in finance and engineering. Even rural areas will likely become saturated soon as pharmacy schools continue to pump out new grads who are desperate to pay off loans.
 

TheTao

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May 13, 2011
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"4 years of professional education and $200k+ debt not required"

Attend a state Pharmacy school and loan problem solved. Just like an English major shouldn't attend Harvard to become an English teacher, then complain about student loans.

And all those talking about software/computer science were obviously in elementary during the last dot.com bust.
 

TheTao

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May 13, 2011
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@ Phoenix,

I purposely moved to a state with cheap tuition for residents and a low cost of living, from a state that had high resident tuition and a high cost of living.

All it took was some SMART planning.
 
Apr 21, 2015
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(
"... can you imagine what the next 10 years will bring?"


In the next ten years, students will 'catch-on' and realize how many graduates cannot get jobs, and how not-so-rosy the whole financial/time picture looks...... (unless, of course, there is a miracle and somehow a massive amount of more pharmacists are needed)
I would predict that enrollment in pharmacy school would then drop dramatically. A lot of the 'selling' of pharmacy school was in the notion that there would presumably be many more avenues for where pharmacists would work other than simple dispensing -- including the relatively failed 'collaborative' positions that allowed the pharmacists to actually be involved in treatment, other than just dispensing medications..... About all that's come out of 'collaborative' is making extra money for the chain pharmacies by adding-in vaccinations -- in which the pharmacist was given no extra time to do, nor any other sort of compensation.....
Two things going on there: first, the chains do not want to compensate anyone for anything; second, the physicians do not want any of their 'power' usurped by pharmacists.
 
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Apr 21, 2015
5
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I would also have to add that few jobs other than in software engineering can get you a $100k+ salary straight out of undergrad, or in some cases even without a degree. I would agree with you about the portability of healthcare jobs - you can live practically like a king if you're willing to relocate outside of a large metro area. However, many people on this forum (and in general) do not seem willing to move to a rural area and would like to stay in or near a major city, even if they have to accept poor job prospects, higher living costs, and take-home pay that is less than that of their peers in finance and engineering. Even rural areas will likely become saturated soon as pharmacy schools continue to pump out new grads who are desperate to pay off loans.
Rural areas have far less pharmacist positions available than do suburban and urban areas. There's far less population (i.e., far less people to sell prescriptions to). If something were to happen to cause a job loss, and you're already rooted in a rural area, you might find it much harder to get an equivalent job again in that rural area.
 
Apr 21, 2015
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I think that you're right about the 'cycles' thing -- to a certain point. But computer science (not as much engineering in general) is growing in a different and larger way. It permeates everything and touches every other field (including pharmacy), unlike anything else.

What might be true though, is if there's enough growth in the number of students and schools for ComSci, then there would be a trend toward a saturation. But, with the supposed predictions, that won't likely happen to easily.

Otoh, I remember in pharmacy school how much they tried to sell the whole 'endlessly expanding demand' for pharmacists notion.
That NEVER happened, and with the expansions of schools and thus number of grads, we now have a significant glut of pharmacists. Not sure if the schools were just sales pitching for the pharmacy programs, or if something happend to 'squash' things. (well, of course, however, they are always trying to 'sell' the programs).

All careers go in cycles. Everybody and their brother is trying to get into software and computer engineering right now. It is the hot field. Competition is massive-- there will be a glut of these engineers soon enough. The engineering life can be brutal: long hours during projects, potential for moving often, layoffs, frequently having to learn new coding languages, etc. It is all project-based. Anyway, just wait a few and this field will be saturated as well. International competition also raises the bar.
 
Apr 21, 2015
5
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Because your chances of getting a retail spot at CVS as a fresh pharmacy school grad are infinitely higher (and if you get out of the "golden times of pharmacy" mindset, they are pretty easy odds still) than nearly zero chance of landing an MSL job as a fresh grad.
Oh, I have to disagree somewhat. The big chains WANT to displace the current pharmacists, and would love to hire cheaper younger new pharmacists. And I've personally seen it happen at CVS. Don't discount the factors of less cost for benefits for a younger person with no 'tenure' (healthcare plan costs, vacations, etc.). The way to get pharmacists desperate for work, is to start turning that revolving door. That acts to drive down salaries.
In fact, it's my belief that chains would gleefully embrace a work environment where only techs are needed locally in the stores, and maybe have a single pharmacist working in a central location to oversee several individual pharmacies... The only thing stopping that is regulations.
 

Sparda29

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One of my buddies just self taught himself Linux server administration and made $60k starting. The guy who told him to go into it makes $160k doing DevOPs with Linux and also self taught himself. How much debt are they in? Nothing.
 
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knight on horse

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Low upward mobility, poor hours for not enough compensation and prestige.

And most damning, the taxing on attention span, working memory and the frontal lobe. The same brainpower that the superrich use to succeed
 
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PharmDstudent

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PharmDstudent

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(there's more than one reason to blow up you brain!)
 

SClENCE

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I'd say the top reasons not to go into pharmacy are:

1. Job competition due to increase in pharmacy schools
2. Chain retail does not treat employees very well and pressures them with low tech hours and difficult metrics
3. The customers in chain retail are generally rude, self centered, and honestly not very intelligent. I think this point and the previous are quite relevant considering most jobs are in chain retail

A combination of poor work conditions and high saturation means high turnover and perhaps low job security.
 
Apr 27, 2015
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These are all problems of working in chain retail pharmacy. I am a firm believer that pharmacy is what you make of it. Not everyone is ready to jump in and get their feet wet. Not everyone is willing to take risk. I quit my job at CVS. I am now unemployed. I am going to make myself successful. It's what you make of it and what opportunities you make for yourself. Also, a little bit of luck wouldn't hurt.
Was just reading this thread, if you don't mind me asking what are you doing now? If you don't want to answer that's totally fine though! I understand it's an imposing question lol.