The Pharmacist Job Crisis. Too many schools that are simply NAPLEX preparation programs

cropped-cropped-squid-cover.jpgRobo-Dispensers, but isn’t that what outfits like CVS want?

From Pharmacy Times

The main issue at hand for future and even current pharmacists is finding a decent job. This is a legitimate concern, for the future of pharmacy is uncertain at best due to future Medicare budget cuts, hospital closings, an increasing number of pharmacy schools, and no shortage of pharmacists.   While each plays a role in the unpredictable future of the pharmacy job market, the greatest causes for concern are the lack of a pharmacist shortage and the overexpansion of pharmacy schools.
In 2000, the US Department of Health and Human Services told Congress there will be a shortage of pharmacists.   The main factors postulated to cause a pharmacist shortage included:

  • Aging population
  • Increasing number of prescriptions
  • Expansion of Medicare Part D
  • Expanding role of the pharmacist
  • Higher educational standards for pharmacists (BSPharm to PharmD)
  • Movement toward managed care

Did this pharmacist shortage actually happen? Let’s take a look at the big picture before we answer this question.   In 1987, there were 72 pharmacy schools. As of June 2014, there are 130 accredited pharmacy colleges, according to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP). At least 4 new schools opened every year between 2005 and 2012, and another 5 new pharmacy schools are slated to open in 2015-2016:

In fall 2013, there were 62,743 total pharmacy students, and 13,207 new PharmDs graduated that year. However, the AACP claims there is a shortage of pharmacists.   “A shortfall of as many as 157,000 pharmacists is predicted by 2020, according to the findings of a conference sponsored by the Pharmacy Manpower Project, Inc,” the AACP stated. These findings were detailed in a report entitled “Professionally Determined Need for Pharmacy Services in 2020,” and it’s important to note it was published in 2002.   The AACP still reported a need for pharmacists in a 2010 article:
“In 2001, a workforce study estimated that approximately 30,000 full-time pharmacists were providing primary care services (defined as managing simple and complex medicine use in ambulatory patients), but that approximately 165,000 full-time pharmacists would be needed by the year 2020 to provide these services to roughly 325 million Americans.40
See that reference? It was also published in 2002, which means the AACP based its belief on data from 13 years ago. Society has rapidly changed since then, and so has the need for pharmacists.   Between 2000 and 2013, the number of yearly pharmacy school graduates has risen from 7000 to 13,000 because of the rapid increase in pharmacy schools. The number of PharmD graduates will range between 14,000 and 15,000 per year, more than double the number in 2001.   Has the number of available jobs doubled since 2001? According to these figures, it has flattened:

 

 

That 3.4 means pharmacists are in demand, but what about by job type?

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