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Rural Pharmacy Saturation circa 2018?

Discussion in 'Pharmacy' started by RootbeerConnoisseur, Jan 14, 2014.

  1. Hey guys,

    Long time lurker that has been considering various health care careers for a long time. I'll be graduating with my BA biology with a 3.84GPA this May and have to get serious about one career or another. I'm basically stuck between Anesthesiologist Assistant or Pharmacist. To be honest, I like the terminal field degree that the PharmD represents, but the saturation of the job market concerns me.

    I would probably shoot for a 3 yr program if I went the PharmD route.

    Also, I GREATLY prefer rural living (I'm from a town of only about 1500 originally) so I assume that is generally helpful. I'm also entirely willing to move anywhere in the US.

    So here is a general breakdown of my situation

    BA Biology with 80,000k debt (huge mistake I know)

    2.5 years education
    110-130k starting
    market beginning to saturate
    more interesting job to me personally
    more difficult admission
    mid-level provider

    3-4 years education
    80-115k starting (hospital/retail)
    market highly saturated apparently
    less interesting job to me (I've worked at CVS as a teenager), but more interesting base material to me
    less difficult admission
    terminal career degree

    Any thoughts?
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  3. StellargalS

    StellargalS lollipop! POP!

    Go all the way. MD/DO
  4. The thing about the MD/DO route is that I don't want a career that super interferes with personal life. plus the whole seven more years of education is a real put off for me.
  5. Gombrich12

    Gombrich12 2+ Year Member

    Dec 4, 2013
    Because it is a terminal degree that is the only reason you're interested in pharmacy? I'd go for my AA and not look back. The horizon is much wider with an AA/CRNA/NP.
  6. Not just that it is a terminal degree. I enjoy the idea of studying medications and their effects on the body as well. The thing that kills me about the AA degree and career path is that I feel like you are stuck with no room to grow and totally dependent on physician employers. That said, the practice of anesthesia is more interesting to me than that of retail pharmacy, which I'm led to believe is 80% of the job market for PharmD's.

    To be perfectly honest, I enjoy science, but I have yet to find a career that I'm "passionate" about. At this point, it's more about pushing through to something in healthcare so I can escape the student loan debt I've accrued.
  7. StellargalS

    StellargalS lollipop! POP!

    Residents get paid. You arent sitting in a class room.
  8. Right, but I believe they get paid in the 45-50k range, which is really just enough to control the compounding of loan interest. After medical school tuition, I would be looking at roughly 250-300k in debt which comes to roughly $17000-$20400 in interest annually. I wish there was a public school for NH, but even then it would be a stretch to consider it without some sustaining level of genuine interest in the subject matter.
  9. BMBiology

    BMBiology temporarily banned~! 10+ Year Member

    Feb 26, 2003
    This professor is predicting 20% unemployment of new grads by 2018:

    I think you also need to consider "underemployment". Many new graduates are only getting 30-32 hours a week and their starting salary has been dropping. Coupled with student loan debt, many of them are also doing per diem at another pharmacy which only makes the job market worst for everyone else.

    It's obviously your decision. I recommend working in a retail at least 6 months just to get a taste of the profession. It's not for everyone and even during the "good" days, many people regreted going into this profession.

    But who knows? maybe you will get lucky like I did.....
    BF7 likes this.
  10. That's a real bummer. I think Optometry is cool as well, but that field appears even worse by all appearances. I wish Med school wasn't such a lifestyle/time commitment/tuition nightmare.
  11. uicgrad

    uicgrad 7+ Year Member

    May 20, 2009
    Have you shadowed AAs at all? I would do that first and pretty quickly since you have already worked at CVS. (Don't know if you actually worked in the pharmacy.) We have a tech at my hospital who is completing a bachelors and was thinking about PharmD but is now leaning toward AA. The problem with AA is I think they will eventually have supply demand imbalance pretty quickly as well. Plus you are limited to work in only certain states. With your GPA, if you get good shadowing and clinical experience in a hurry you would probably easily get into PA school which is relatively short schooling (only a couple years) but generally with lower starting salary. Once you have been a PA for a couple years if you are interested you could go back and train for AA. My hospital uses a lot of PAs. Depending on the specialty of the physician you work with the work can be very interesting, more interesting than either hospital or retail pharmacy.
  12. I have yet to really get into the OR, but we don't have many AA's in NH as they are mostly in the south. I know they can work in Vermont and New Hampshire currently though. I figured that if the AA market goes to hell (hopefully I would have paid my debts and saved some since then) I would just enroll in a PA program from there and continue on. However, that would mean roughly 4 1/2 years of post-undergrad education total, which suggests that I should just ante up for med school.
  13. BMBiology

    BMBiology temporarily banned~! 10+ Year Member

    Feb 26, 2003
    You never want this. You want admissions standards to be very selective so when you graduate there will be a job waiting for you. Just take a look at the pre-pharmacy forum. People with subpar GPA are getting accepted to multiple schools. It's very difficult to distinguish yourself in this profession so don't think you will be much better off than people who graduated from a diploma mill.
  14. uicgrad

    uicgrad 7+ Year Member

    May 20, 2009
    Call anesthesia departments or anesthesiology groups now at nearby hospitals if you are at all serious about AA. They will let you shadow/observe for a day or two. You are already in your last semester so you need to get a move on rather than waste a year post graduation. All these programs are competitive with admissions. After shadowing AAs you may even decide it is too routine and not what you want to do. Many hospitals are happy to host shadowers. Talking with practitioners when you shadow will help you make a more informed career decision. Look into the military if you are interested as well. My biggest advice to you is do not let reluctance to relocate to another area of the country (it may only be for a couple years) hinder your career options.
  15. BestDoctorEver

    BestDoctorEver Banned Banned Account on Hold 5+ Year Member

    Sep 25, 2009
    Not every physician jobs interfere with lifestyle. There are physicians who work M-F (8-5pm) and make good gig. I know an IM doc who has that schedule with no calls.
  16. From what I understand, that schedule is an exception to the rule. The physician specialty workweek tables that I have been privy to have all indicated a 50+ hour workweek. I would rather be brewing or hunting in those other 10+ hours.
  17. knight on horse

    knight on horse 2+ Year Member

    Jul 1, 2013
    You know, there are those MDs who set 9:30-4pm hours, 4 days a week, with hour and a half lunch breaks

    But granted, they have it made, and youth is the best and most glorious time
  18. PharmDCandidate2014

    PharmDCandidate2014 Organ Donor

    Oct 24, 2014
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    I'd say rural pharmacy hits the rural saturation point in of now, there arent too many states left where demand outweighs the supply.

    Desperate students will move to Iowa and the Dakotas when they realize the future of pharmacy isn't as rosy as the schools advertised.
  19. BestDoctorEver

    BestDoctorEver Banned Banned Account on Hold 5+ Year Member

    Sep 25, 2009
    How many states can AA practice? I would go for pharmacy and find a 3 year program to reduce my debt burden...

    8ok for a BA in biology! oh Boy...
  20. Yeah, that was a mistake. I just got accepted to AA school so wish me luck.
  21. ...And I did end up wasting a year. I regret the gap, but maybe I'm just doing it wrong...
  22. BidingMyTime

    BidingMyTime Lost Shaker Of Salt 10+ Year Member

    Oct 2, 2006
    Aren't AA's being replaced with CNA, because CNA's can practice independently in most states, but AA's can't practice independently in any state? Someone else brought up a good point, unlike CNA's which I believe are recognized in all 50 states, aren't there a limited number of states where AA's can practice?
  23. zelman

    zelman 7+ Year Member

    Nov 27, 2009
    You mean CRNA. CNA is something else.
    BidingMyTime likes this.
  24. BidingMyTime

    BidingMyTime Lost Shaker Of Salt 10+ Year Member

    Oct 2, 2006
    Yes, thank you! Big difference between a CRNA & CNA.
  25. Aa's have 100% employment still and you can clear 190-200k first year with OT so it was the better option financially compared to pharm. CRNA vs. AA is very political and probably the biggest downside (alongside geographic limitations).
  26. TheTao

    TheTao 5+ Year Member

    May 13, 2011
    A CRNA can lead to a DNP. An AA leads to what?

    IMHO it's not a stretch to think that one day, most if not all of the 6 figure careers in healthcare are going to require a terminal degree.
  27. fauxden

    fauxden 7+ Year Member

    Dec 6, 2010
    I'd say rural saturation has already hit. What's your definition of rural? I live out in the sticks (pop 10K), no jobs around here. Hospital full, wags full, rite-aide full, indy full, grocery stores full. Come from other rural areas ie 5k places, 2 pharmacy places there, both full. Nearby town, couple pharms -full.
  28. Lexington2012

    Lexington2012 5+ Year Member

    Sep 7, 2012
    Lexington, KY
    What does the "AA" acronym mean? All I can think of is Alcoholics Anonymous and American Airlines.
  29. stoichiometrist

    stoichiometrist 5+ Year Member

    Aug 2, 2011
    This is the same case with my state. Even the rural and "undesirable" parts of my state are already saturated.
  30. Anesthesiologist Assistant
  31. ...and the degree doesn't really lead into anything else. Investment capital, I guess...
  32. Humble Sloth

    Humble Sloth Planning my financial survival Banned Account on Hold

    Dec 21, 2015
    San francisco, California
    Your GPA is decent I would go to MD school. It's easy to get into as long as you do okay on the MCATs. Pharmacy is a horrible field to go into right now. AA is much better. PA is something you might want to consider if you only want to do a few years of school.
  33. Humble Sloth

    Humble Sloth Planning my financial survival Banned Account on Hold

    Dec 21, 2015
    San francisco, California
    To me rural is a town of 200-500 people. 10,000 is still a town
  34. BidingMyTime

    BidingMyTime Lost Shaker Of Salt 10+ Year Member

    Oct 2, 2006
    A rural town of 200-500 people can't support a pharmacy. So in the context of the argument "rural" means smallest town that can actually support a pharmacy (I'm guessing 5000 minimum population is needed.)
  35. TheBlaah

    TheBlaah 7+ Year Member

    Apr 9, 2010
    Agreed. I live in a military base town with a total population of 15k. About 40% live on base. There's 2 hospitals; 1 on base and another one to support the rest of the town. There's also 2 pharmacies; an independent and a CVS. Your guess is pretty good.
    BidingMyTime likes this.
  36. Hope1974

    Hope1974 5+ Year Member

    Apr 7, 2011
    I work in a place with a population of 900 to 1000 max. There is one very small pharmacy. When the bins are full we might have 30 bags or so. Closest city is 2 hours in either direction and there's no T-Mobile tower.
    BidingMyTime likes this.
  37. PAtoPharm

    PAtoPharm 2+ Year Member

    Oct 2, 2015
    @RootbeerConnoisseur, how's AA school going? What school are you at? I was dismissed from an AA program during the winter. Wondering if you might be one of my former classmates.
    Last edited: May 21, 2016
  38. Humble Sloth

    Humble Sloth Planning my financial survival Banned Account on Hold

    Dec 21, 2015
    San francisco, California
    A town of 200-500 can most certainly support a pharmacy. I'm not talking a superstore CVS. Chicora, PA is a town of around 1,000 people. It has two pharmacies "Chicora Drug" and "Quality Pharmacy". These small towns of 200-500 act as 'city centers' for massive farm lands they are surrounded by.
    BF7 likes this.
  39. BF7

    BF7 2+ Year Member

    Jul 21, 2014
    The people should really look at the population within a 15 mile radius of that small town. About 2000 people / pharmacy is a safe number.

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