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No pharmacy jobs in Northern Ireland...

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    I'm hoping to go to Uni in 2012 and considering a few courses. I'm currently training to become a dispensary assistant at a pharmacy in Belfast, which I really enjoy and therefore I'm considering applying for the Pharmacy degree at QUB (2012 entry). However, I am very put off from what I've heard and read about the current job situation for pharmacists in Northern Ireland. There are around 500 community pharmacies in N.I and, correct me, over 120 graduates per year coming out of Queens! A figure which is due to increase with the new School of Pharmacy at UUC. You don't need to be a maths genius to understand that supply is FAR exceeding demand.


    I've heard from some locums I work with that there are other locums offering a day's work for £100; some pharmacies that only offer £100/day for a locum ; some locums that haven't had a day's work for months; some that have never got work since the day and hour they graduated. Pharmacy is a respected profession, a Doctor would never rock up to a practice and offer to work for 1/3 less than their peers. I understand that those offering a reduced rate are desperate for work/experience/money. My point isn't about people offering to work for less money, my point is why isn't anything being done...the number of places to study at QUB dramatically cut? Try to get the balance back.. Or maybe it's too late. It's getting to the point that unless you do Medicine or Dentistry in N.I prepare to not use your 'professional' degree.. Solicitors, teachers, radiographers, physios, nurses..the list goes on..

    I was just wondering how current QUB/UUC pharmacy students feel about this situation? I'm heavily considering if studying Pharmacy would be worth it..to stay and study means having no option but to leave N.I afterwards to work. I can't imagine how the situation will get better.. seems like the bath has already overflowed and no one is bothering to run over and turn the tap off. :confused:
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    The way that the universities see it, they are making money from each graduate so are not going to cap numbers. Also, they see the MPharm as an open degree, i.e not every graduate goes on to community pharmacy, there are industry positions, postgrad research places, even teaching is an option (with a PGCE).
    The job market is very closed, with even experienced pharmacists losing out and I have know a few pre-regs who have had to move to the mainland to find work. I cannot see the situation improving tbh, the PSNI are currently considering capping the number of pre-reg places that are funded or reducing the rate of funding. So competition may be even more fierce in a number of years.
    However, my view is, if you are an excellent candidate, with a high degree class and plenty of work experience you should stand out from the other candidates! I shall be continuing my degree in the hope that I will be one of these exemplary candidates
    Another factor to consider when accepting a pre-reg position (I know that will seem a very long way off!) is the number of full time positions available at the end of the year (Gordons usually only has 2).
    If Pharmacy is your passion, get your application in! Things can change a great deal in a few years, so the situation may change. There may be many different roles available by the time you qualify and many different job opportunities.
    Just out of interest, what qualifications do you have atm?
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    Yeah, the locums I've spoken to say the same thing about the universities making money from every place so why reduce it. I just find it a tad irresponsible of them that their own pre-regs would have to move away to finish their course, but if the PSNI wants to cut funding then I guess there's no other option. I agree Pharmacy is a great degree with the potential to follow many different routes if community pharmacy isn't your thing. Out of interest which area would you most like to go into after graduation?

    I have A-Levels from yeeeeeears ago, AAB. I did BSc Psychology a few years ago and Im hoping to go back to tech to get A-Level chemistry. Didn't realise it when I went to uni but science is what I really love! Nerd alert
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    Tbh, I'm thinking of hospital pharmacy atm but I would like to get a bit of experience to see if I like it first. Most of the pharmacists that I have worked with over the years say I would suit hospital too. I have a personal interest in addiction services and psychiatry but we shall see how things turn out, I have another few years to go yet!

    Lol, I like biology but chemistry has been a bit of a struggle this year, but I am getting the hang of it. Do you work for a multiple or an independent? Hows the dispensary assistants course going?
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    I work for a wee, and i mean wee lol, independent. I've just started the course, it's going grand so far. To be honest I find it a bit frustrating at the minute working on the counter because I still have loads to learn and hate not knowing the answers to customers' questions, my standard answer is "One sec and I'll ask/check with the pharmacist" lol.

    The area you're interested in sounds really interesting! But like you said, you're thoughts could change over the next 4-5years. I noticed you mentioned in another post that you're a qualified pharmacy technician, how long did it take you to complete the NVQ3? can i ask why you choose Keele Uni...did you just fancy a change from NI...are you loving the course? I'm gonna apply through ucas for entry 2012 but part of me is thinking, because of the job situation here, and because by the time I'd finish pharmacy I'd be 30 (!) I might just keep training up to technician level and maybe do a radiography degree, as it's 3 years, and something I know I'd enjoy too. You'd think they'd make a provision where pharmacy techs have a fast track course to a MPharm qualification though..
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    Awk you will get the hang of it in no time! Took me about 9 months to do the NVQ2 and then 2 years for the NVQ3. It was a long struggle but worth it in the end. I really enjoyed the course but there was a lot to do for it and I had to put a lot of time in at home.

    I had to go to England as I don't have the right A-levels and I was applying on the basis of my NVQ3. I had to choose a uni that offered a foundation year, so that narrowed the list quite a bit. Keele looked amazing from the pictures and the contact that I had with the university and the Pharmacy dept was excellent. Julia the Pharmacy admissions tutor really sealed the deal!

    Tbh, I'm glad I'm away from NI, but I miss my friends and family. If it makes you feel any better, I'll be 30 by the time I'm finished too! I think if there was a fasttrack the tech may miss out tho, as the course is quite intense already. I'm loving being at uni, can't wait to get bk in September!
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    You're completely wasting your time studying Pharmacy if you want to remain in Northern Ireland, as there is a vast over-supply of Pharmacists meaning there are virtually no full times or locum work of any description. The rate of pay is also ridiculous in NI, there are basic grade agency Nurses getting as much per hour. You could go to England but the job is horrendously pressured due to commercial targets, unpleasant customers/ methadone addicts and the shear number of scripts you have to check. You'll also be lucky to get 5 minutes to eat a sandwich in the day. I've experienced it all as a Locum, believe me, both in NI and England.

    If you want to study a Profession in NI do Medicine or Dentistry, the only other course I would suggest is Computer Science as there seems to be plenty of work in it. Any other courses are a waste of time at Uni if you want to remain in NI, don't let any Lecturer tell you otherwise- the population isn't big enough to support the number of graduates that are churned out of Uni.
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    First I would like to say I am a fully qualified and registered pharmacist. I have had to take myself off the PSNI reg as i simply could not afford their retention fees. In the whole year i was registered I received only about 5-7 days work.

    I would like to say that I totally agree with Hoganballs. I only wish that someone could have advised me all those years ago when i was starting out on my MPharm degree.

    The very fact that there is an over supply of pharmacists is causing employers to have the chance to be picky and the potential employees to be or feel powerless. Certain well known employers are taking advantage of the situation. Driving down locum rates, getting their younger more inexperienced pharmacists to do long hours and anti-social hours. It seems that those employers are lacking their own code of ethics.

    Not only are pharmacists having to fight and scramble for a few hours here and there, but there is the increasing pressure for them to 'try to impress' their employer, WITH THE HOPE they will be offered more work from that employer. This is almost to an extent wherby the 'trying to impress' has gone totally at the wrong end of the scale, whereby pharmacists are loosing their sense of self as a professional, loosing self worth. A good example would be, certain locums are known to be phoning around pharmacies saying they can offer their rates for cheaper than all the current locums. (What is this, a window cleaning service?)

    Another example would be, pharmacists are working over time, long hours, no breaks and no lunch and will not raise that issue with their employer as they want to be seen as a 'good worker'.

    Employers know all this! and unfortunately some play upon it. Attitude from those employers are 'if you don't like these conditions, I can easily find someone who does'.

    This is a disgusting situation which is also encouraging pharmacists to outdo their own colleagues and previous class mates.

    And I also must mention the PSNI. They are fully aware of this too and seem to be turning a blind eye to it. After all, the more registrants they get, the more money they earn!

    There is no help out there for pharmacists who have got lost or simply disappeared because of this predictable and well known situation.
    And to add to that, Pharmacists often will not speak up about these issues for FEAR That they will get their name black listed amongst some employers.

    All and all, unless the employee pharmacists and locum pharmacists club together and form their own union then the whole profession is screwed! There is the Ulster chemists association, however it seems to be more of a union for the pharmacy owners.

    I would say, don't waste time in pharmacy in N.I. Fine do it, if you feel it's the career for you and you can see yourself working outside N.I.

    but other factors must include the real nature of the community pharmacy job. Unfortunetly it is a very under-valued profession. It seems that all that hard work and training goes to waste when your put under pressure for extra sales, dealing with certain other Health care professionals who think they are a complete league of their own and way above your league, and having to stand at the perfume counter and direct people to the toilet rolls.
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    Pharmacy is a waste of time these days in NI. The PSNI are shockingly disgraceful in how they handle things. I'd recommend it to no one, and I'm leaving it to study medicine where I feel I can actually make the most of my training. To think, the BMA would push for industrial action over increased student fees hitting medical students....would the PSNI do that for pharmacy students? It's laughable! If I get into medicine and go back to Uni, I'm off the register as soon as possible.

    It's disgusting the salaries that are being offered to pharmacists, yet expecting us to do CPD and deliver more services also. Pharmacists have become slaves, and that's not much of an exaggeration. I've even told numerous pharmacy students to leave the course, it's gotten pointless to stay in it if you wish to remain in NI or have a job that isn't retail focused. It's just rather frustrating to spend years training as an healthcare 'professional' to stand and manage a shop where your employer is more concerned about your toiletries sales and your highest level of healthcare involvement is checking over a prescription...which doesn't require 5 years training to do!
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    I know lots of n.i pharmacists who have left pharmacy, including myself, for all the reasons above. After a four year intensive course plus one year of working full time, studying full time, being bullied by certain pharmacy owners and simply having no life just to pass one crap exam in order to get on the reg which costs 500 odd pound. Then Discovering there's no work or if there is,it's paid at less than a tenner per hour. Undervalued, overworked and underpaid. I know pharmacists who are very young in their career and who have drink problems, anxiety attacks and depression and worsening personal relationships cuz of stress. There's no such thing as a union for us. We are the forgotten professionals and just money making machines for the PSNI and pharmacy owners. What a waste of education, time,tears and money on that o called career. Disgusting!
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    The above two posters are bang on the head!
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    I think it's the same in England, that the pharmacy job market is really saturated... and they're saying it's going to get even worse in a couple of years time! :eek:
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    Englands no where near as bad.....YET!
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    My friend and two of the gys/girls he ran about with at Uni have walked into pharmacy jobs there and they have just finished their pre-reg. :confused:
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    (Original post by Mature student99)
    My friend and two of the gys/girls he ran about with at Uni have walked into pharmacy jobs there and they have just finished their pre-reg. :confused:
    Ask ur friend and their friends, what salary and type of contract including terms and conditions did they accept? If they tell u the truth,

    I'm sure they will say there was no negotiation as told there would be a que of pharmacists looking for that job. the offer was layed on the table as a ridiculously low salary (the type of salary one can could receive in certain unskilled work) and crazy work hours, minimum holidays and no allowance for days off to complete the compulsory CPD hours. It was a imple yes or no. Being a newly qualified pharmacist gagging for the experience with low self worth, they sold themselves off to the devil!

    Okay, I know I was using a bit of poetic license in the last sentence but it's not far from the truth.
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    (Original post by BMW_86)
    Ask ur friend and their friends, what salary and type of contract including terms and conditions did they accept? If they tell u the truth,

    I'm sure they will say there was no negotiation as told there would be a que of pharmacists looking for that job. the offer was layed on the table as a ridiculously low salary (the type of salary one can could receive in certain unskilled work) and crazy work hours, minimum holidays and no allowance for days off to complete the compulsory CPD hours. It was a imple yes or no. Being a newly qualified pharmacist gagging for the experience with low self worth, they sold themselves off to the devil!

    Okay, I know I was using a bit of poetic license in the last sentence but it's not far from the truth.
    23k and 25k starting off...

    One community and one hospital. Both where they done their pre-reg.

    You really hate pharmacy don't you . Are you out of work or what?

    Would you recommend doing biomedical science instead? There's a lack of jobs there too.
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    (Original post by Mature student99)
    23k and 25k starting off...

    One community and one hospital. Both where they done their pre-reg.

    You really hate pharmacy don't you . Are you out of work or what?

    Would you recommend doing biomedical science instead? There's a lack of jobs there too.
    I would like pharmacy if it was practiced in the way it was suppose to be practiced. Pharmacists are the expert in medicines, not doctors. Medics are experts in diagnosis and that side of things. I dont think pharmacists in 2012 are acknowledged enough for their expertees, nor are they allowed to practice their expertees. Selling toilet rolls is about the height of it in community pharmacy.

    Would you like to do a four year intensive degree plus one year intensive studying and working, pay an annual fee of 500 odd pound to sell toilet rolls?

    Hospital pharmacy is a wee bit different however still has a long way to go. N.i is too small. Not nough hospitals and too many pharmacists make competition for jobs really stiff. It also drives down the salary.

    I expected u to say around22k to 24k for pharm salary in n.i.

    This is a sickening salary for someone who works nine or more hours per day as there's no lunch break with a tremendous amount of legal responsibility and min holidays. Some holidays are even used to do the compulsory CPD. There is no work life balance and sowhy would anyone do this When they could get a job as a secretary or admin assistant for 20k with far better work life balance and much less responsibility?

    I have friends who do not have degrees and currently on 23k in regular computer type jobs.

    The salary For pharmacists in n.i is disgusting. In England a pharmacist without experience can be on a starting salary 38k to 42k.. It then goes up with experience.

    I am a pharmacist and chose not to enter the pharmacist cattle market for all the reasons described in all messages above and because there's more to life!

    Are you thinking of pharmacy?

    I don't know ou sought after biomedical scientists are. Check the local job market for Pharma companies careers etc.

    If u want my advice, forget science all together and do something computer related!
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    You said you didn't enter the cattle? What did you do then?

    I thought jobs like NHS paid the same throughout the UK (apart from London and outer areas of course)

    No lunch break? Surely that's illegal?
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    Im not sure about nhs salaries. As I said hospital pharmacy is a little different.

    No lunch break is illegal but it's been an ongoing problem with pharmacists for in n.i for years. Part of the legislation is that a pharmacist must be in in control of every action undertaken in the pharmacy premises. They particularly need to be in 100% control, AT ALL times when it involves sales and supply of medications to customers and patients. How many pharmacies in N.I do u know close for lunch?

    Do u think a pharmacy owner would supply a second pharmacist for that lunch hour? the answer is No as this costs the owner more money.

    This is a problem that EVERY community pharmacist in N.I is familiar with! Yet nothing has ever been done about it as most of them are too afraid to speak up.they don't want to lose their jobs.

    I did a bit of casual locum work in London and then took up a job in a call centre taking in bound calls related to med information.
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    I think a lot of people have buried their heads in the sand with regard to pharmacy at the moment. The reality is, if you are lucky enough to get locum work, you'll probably not get the full locum rate (not that it's that hight to begin with), be working long hours with no breaks, being overly dictated by employers and will probably have to reduce your rate to compete further. Pharmacy isn't really a healthcare role, it's more of a business, therefore, businesses will strive for sales and hire cheap labour if possible.

    I know a few people who have gotten permanent jobs in the UK, but it's getting harder and harder for newly qualified individuals to get somewhere. Pharmacy, unfortunately, is slowly turning into Law, whereby there are extremely few jobs available for a ridiculous number of graduates.

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Updated: October 18, 2014
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