There is a lot of talk in the pharmacy world now about ‘the flooded market.’ It seems both practicing pharmacists and academics alike are loathing of quickly-drying jobs, ostensibly brought on by an ever-increasing number of pharmacy schools, as well as declining reimbursement and the threat of automation.
In spite of this though, there are still jobs out there; according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, for example, there are 312,500 pharmacists employed nationally, with a projected growth from 2016-2026 of 17,400 jobs.
So, this begs the question – where are all those jobs to be found?
The Aggregate Demand Index is an excellent place to start and can provide a picture of where the jobs are in traditional practice settings. It also can provide information on the overall job market situation in each state, although it does not break that data down by regions within each state (that can make an enormous difference; many rural areas still struggle to find pharmacists in spite of a much higher supply of pharmacists than in the past).
Currently, it appears there is a higher demand for pharmacists in specialties and in management than generalists; this mirrors many industries, and as the saying goes “there are riches in niches.” There are some weaknesses of the ADI, according to Brown, namely that is measures the employer’s experience and not the job seeker’s experience.
While the Aggregate Demand Index does a good job giving pharmacists job prospects in traditional settings, there is a large market for pharmacists in non-traditional roles as well. Stay tuned for an upcoming article where I’ll go over many of the types of jobs available to pharmacists, including information and links to resources about the myriad settings where pharmacists can be employed.
No matter where you want to work, one crucial piece of the equation is to be sure you actually have a license in the state you are hoping to move to; regardless of the demand, if you can’t legally practice as a pharmacist in that state they are not going to hire you!
Don't forget about licensing
In a previous post, I talked about the steps to getting licensed and lessons I’ve learned along the way. If this is your first time, in particular, reciprocating your license to another state I recommend checking it out.
Also, while it is certainly OK to start looking at jobs while going through the licensing process, be sure to be diligent about obtaining your license as efficiently as possible. This includes being well-prepared for licensing exams and responding quickly to any of the Board’s requests during the process.
I know this can be time-consuming and difficult while you’re also working full-time, but Barton Healthcare Staffing has staff on-site and ready to help you through the process, finding jobs that match your professional skills and personal desires and assisting throughout the licensing process.
Perhaps most importantly, though, is that there is a difference between pharmacist demand and demand for you as a pharmacist. A coworker of mine always says “if you make yourself an asset, you will have a job” - wise words indeed.
So, how can you make yourself an asset?
A great place to start is to ask for projects that will:
- Help the company (revenue, quality scores, efficiency, etc.),
- Help you build skills and give you something exciting to talk about in an interview that you are actually passionate about (I can say as a hiring manager, passion for your work is a huge plus when interviewing), and
- Help improve the health of your patients or the safety of the care you are providing them.
There is no shortage of such projects and if you can dream it, most companies will let you do it. Start with your current role – are there projects you could be working on that would bring the passion back in your job, help the company, and give you great talking points for your next interview?
For example, when I worked for a chain pharmacy, I worked with the local public health association to put together a smoking cessation event for the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout. I pitched the idea the company and they went for it. They set up tables in the front of the store for us (including for members of the public health association) and we spent the day referring customers to the state quit-line and helping them get up to date on their vaccinations (a revenue builder for the store, by the way). In addition, this chain pharmacy even provided snacks and drinks to draw people to our table we could speak with them.
Essentially if you can dream it, you can do it, and when you want to stand out from the crowd and start building skills to expand your options, oftentimes the best place to start is where you currently are, even if you already know you eventually want to move on.
I can tell you from experience: once you get started on this path and realize how much joy it brings you in your work, you will be hooked.