jobs in pharmacy Watch

FAM29
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I've applied for pharmacy at uni. But it's scary the amount of people, tutors, other pharmacists, pre-reg pharmacists etc who have warned me not to do pharmacy.
i just wanted some advice on the pros and cons of studying pharmacy. Will jobs in pharmacy still be very saturated in say 5 years when I've completed my degree. or is it better to go for something like Optometry?

and advice would be much appreciated
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StudentErased
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It’s difficult to say. The government currently doesn’t cap the amount of pharmacy students allowed, due to it regarding pharmacy as a “science” rather than a healthcare degree. It would be guessing to say whether there would be jobs or not. It really depends on how flexible you are and where you see yourself. Jobs as a hospital and community pharmacist may be very saturated in 5 years, particularly with budget cuts to community pharmacies, but there are new opportunities opening up to pharmacists as independent prescribers, in GP surgeries and nursing homes. In most sectors, I think there is a real strain on jobs at the moment, so it’s more of a question of which profession you think you would enjoy. Who knows what plans the government has for pharmacy though. At this point, it really could go either way.

Hope that helps explain the state of pharmacy right now at least.
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FAM29
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Thank you.
would you recommend going into pharmacy at this point in time?
or choosing to study something like optometry?
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marinade
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In five years time the number of jobs in pharmacy will be extremely saturated.

There are 30 odd pharmacy schools churning out around 3000 grads a year. There are only something like 40,000 pharmacists on the register in England and Wales. Even adding on Scotland and NI and other jobs you can see a mile off this is a problem.

New jobs for IPs are exciting but a tiny drop in the ocean.

Pharmacist is an important job but one which is not valued at all by politicians, the public and especially not by large companies. It could go near extinction as a job, if you think about it the role doesn't fit into modern life and there are many legal protections keeping community pharmacists in jobs. Will there be as many jobs when more automation comes in? Or remote supervision? Or the requirement for a pharmacist to be present every second of every day. Pharmacists exist as we have a whole bunch of laws.
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FAM29
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what do you guys suggest about optometry as an alternative ?
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marinade
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(Original post by FAM29)
what do you guys suggest about optometry as an alternative ?
No idea. I do hear similar complaints about vetinary (two friends), dentistry (acquaintances) and so on. All of the so called professions are having issues of status, conditions and pay and gripes about 'modern life'. Have you worked in a pharmacy at all?

FWIW I think the pharmacy offers better jobs prospects than the average degree and average science degree. I don't think anyone should have to pay 9k a year in fees. If you take into account that many pharmacy schools are very low ranking universities (some very high) this is even better more reason to choose pharmacy.

The reason I believe most community pharmacists dislike community pharmacy is along the following lines:-
- lack of autonomy
- most jobs are in community
- most jobs in community are in retail (glorified retail job)
- frustration of having studied a degree and perceived lack of respect
- amount of low level work dumped on them by GP surgeries/general public, a lot of needy and desperate people who could be better dealt with by others/other processes. e.g. daft trivial telephone calls.
- repetition of the same tasks/questions day after day
- stuck in a small dispensary with the same people all day
- historical baggage where pharmacy runs in the family and comparisons to the good old days where pharmacies were minted.
- lack of control over complaints to head office often for trivial things.
- having to appease badly behaviour patients all the time
- anything goes wrong and you may not get rebooked as a locum
- work as a float and you are a dogs body
- work as a salaried you are a corporate slave.
- lack of decent training for support staff adding strain on good workers.
- lack of hours. single working. single checking. having to multitask constantly.
- people kicking off if their meds arrive late something you have no control over.
- pharmacy blamed for patients not ordering early enough/not going to medicine reviews and real pressure on pharmacists to do emergency supply.
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FAM29
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Thank you for that insight
the main worry is the lack of jobs. I do t want to do pharmacy and graduate, struggling to find work. 4/5 years is a long time to study and struggle to go d a job.
Also, I read somewhere that its likely a lot of pharmacist will be replaced by robots. (dispensing).

I don't know whether the risk of pharmacy is worth it.so I'm leaning more towards optom
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marinade
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Pharmacy is going to be automated. No question whatsoever in my mind. You do meet a lot of people that think it is science fiction though, just like you meet people who thought there would he no pharmacy closures. The large chains all have fulfilment centres and drive some prescriptions around the country or deliver.
One model of automation is there will be 3000 or 4000 fewer community pharmacies and of those that will survive there will be lower staff hours. Most repeat scripts will be done at a warehouse and pharmacies deal with walk ins and other services and otc sales. Under that model the better than average pharmacist will have plenty of work. It is the dark side of locumming that will not be so happy.

If you read academic material on automation then some of them think it is the counter assistants and dispensers that are history amd pharmacists that will survive. The reason for this is it is a broad study covering many jobs and not legal or other aspects. It could be either. My money is on remote supervision and fewer pharmacists and decimation of support staff.

So most stuff is on EPS, we deal with repetitive tasks, scan a barcode on an eps and a computer can do all the dispensing, there will be barcodes on all boxes in future. A very human labour intensive job. There aren't really that many barriers to overcome!

I can't answer whether it is worth it after 4 or 5 years study as I think all graduates have a tough time.

If you learn to be a dab hand at dispensing during the MPharm and are flexible about being a float, salaried or locum and highly mobile you will find work. After a while and you have been up some contacts and places you don't mind working things should improve.

As I said I can't answer optom, I don't think the idea of a 'career' exists any more.
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crazy.chemist
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(Original post by marinade)
No idea. I do hear similar complaints about vetinary (two friends), dentistry (acquaintances) and so on. All of the so called professions are having issues of status, conditions and pay and gripes about 'modern life'. Have you worked in a pharmacy at all?

FWIW I think the pharmacy offers better jobs prospects than the average degree and average science degree. I don't think anyone should have to pay 9k a year in fees. If you take into account that many pharmacy schools are very low ranking universities (some very high) this is even better more reason to choose pharmacy.

The reason I believe most community pharmacists dislike community pharmacy is along the following lines:-
- lack of autonomy
- most jobs are in community
- most jobs in community are in retail (glorified retail job)
- frustration of having studied a degree and perceived lack of respect
- amount of low level work dumped on them by GP surgeries/general public, a lot of needy and desperate people who could be better dealt with by others/other processes. e.g. daft trivial telephone calls.
- repetition of the same tasks/questions day after day
- stuck in a small dispensary with the same people all day
- historical baggage where pharmacy runs in the family and comparisons to the good old days where pharmacies were minted.
- lack of control over complaints to head office often for trivial things.
- having to appease badly behaviour patients all the time
- anything goes wrong and you may not get rebooked as a locum
- work as a float and you are a dogs body
- work as a salaried you are a corporate slave.
- lack of decent training for support staff adding strain on good workers.
- lack of hours. single working. single checking. having to multitask constantly.
- people kicking off if their meds arrive late something you have no control over.
- pharmacy blamed for patients not ordering early enough/not going to medicine reviews and real pressure on pharmacists to do emergency supply.
As a community pharmacist of some several years now, this is a good list of the daily problems we face. I, and my colleagues would not recommend spending £36k on a pharmacy degree, which is a pity as the degree is very interesting, I actually really loved my time studying pharmacy, but it's the job at the end of it that is the problem.
The Unis are businesses now, they want their 9k a year, they don't care what happens to you at the end of it. It is a very stressful job in community, such that many now work only 3 or 4 days. And that is nearly full time if a pharmacy is open, usually 9 or 10 hours a day. Most of the work is in multiples who are foreign owed and run by business men. The GPhC is quick to jump on individual pharmacists too and the public love to complain. There are much easier ways to earn 30k a year. I noticed the other day that Aldi pay their deputy store managers more than most young pharmacists .
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sachinisgod
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(Original post by FAM29)
Thank you for that insight
the main worry is the lack of jobs. I do t want to do pharmacy and graduate, struggling to find work. 4/5 years is a long time to study and struggle to go d a job.
Also, I read somewhere that its likely a lot of pharmacist will be replaced by robots. (dispensing).

I don't know whether the risk of pharmacy is worth it.so I'm leaning more towards optom
You wont struggle to find work ( In a non pharmacy field). There are many firms who have grad schemes who will take on people from any degree background. I myself did pharmacy went to work for one of the Big 4 in their Tech Consulting and Risk graduate scheme. I didnt even bother with Pre reg as i didnt think it was worth it.

If you end up going to a top half ranked uni; Notts, Bath, Cardiff, Kings, Newcastle and come out with a 1st or high 2:1 then you just have to nail interviews for Finance/consulting/Management schemes in London and it wont be an issue that you have a pharmacy degree. TBH it will be an advantage as you will be different from the regular accounting/economics/business grads they get.

If you want to stay in healthcare, you can do Optometry. This is only marginally better than pharmacy, as you are actually treating the patient and selling high value items ( glasses and contacts) to grow a business than handing out bags of prescriptions and selling shampoos/nappies as a pharmacist. However Optom is also not as rosy so expect funding changes as the years go by which will seriously affect it too.
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marinade
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(Original post by truffle_999)
This is so depressing to hear, even though I was aware of these issues before I embarked on this course

I know several community pharmacists who have not had a decent pay rise in almost ten years and as a result, have become completely demoralised - I'm right in saying you usually start of around £30k, but there's no room for career progression (unless you become a manager)? + in addition locum rates have dwindled.
Pay in community varies, but there are quite a few people on high twenties and low thirties, even some managers are paid in the mid £30ks at some chains. If you talk to smaller chains or managers at smaller chains pay can be £40k+, £50k+ sometimes even more.

If you basically put this all together for me it tallies with the ASHE data on pharmacist pay.

Not of any interest you probably at this stage, but if you ask about the pay of the support staff it's relevant. If support staff who are experienced dispensers and very competent are getting paid 5p or 10p above the minimum wage in large pharmacy chains, what does that say?
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marinade
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(Original post by truffle_999)
Sounds like pharmacists are just getting shafted.
According to the chemist and druggist, those working at large chains have had pay freezes and others an annual pay rise of just 1%. I was checking the Office for national statistics, and average salary for a pharmacist in 2017 was around £42k (not sure which sector tho).
But yeah, I'm aware that for dispensers/assistant the situation is very dire.
IIRC the SOC codes don't distinguish sectprs, was my point, the spread of percentiles was what I was getting, not just the average. A tiny percentage of pharmacists work in hospital and a tiny percentage get paid, £80k, £90k, £100k. £30-£40k is surprisingly normal in community and retail pharmacy.

Pharmacists are getting shafted but there isn't much agreement on why, it's a bread and butter issue talked about often in dispensaries. Many believe it was the influx of EU pharmacists over ten years ago whilst many others think it's there being too many pharmacy schools. The NHS is one reason why pharmacists and support staff get paid so poorly and have such poor terms and conditions. The biggest factor though is that it is dominated by large companies. So you have the double downward pressure of the NHS and large companies. Couple that to pharmacy has some of the least effective trade unions in the country and add in the other stuff it isn't a surprise. The very large retail locum market also imho has a much bigger effect on wages in community than people realise. Locum and mass booking systems mean that wages can freeze or decline much faster than if they were salaried employees.

There are a load of other factors not to do directly with wages why someone might be enticed to be a relief/saralaried pharmacist e.g. holidays, pensions, being able to negotiate 4 days x long hours (see above), being able to get a mortgage as it's very difficult as a locum. Of course as a post above alluded to, it doesn't always work out like that.

I think the SOC codes used to have a manager code, which if you find some data from after the financial crash makes quite interesting reading if you compare to the pay of managers I know.

Having said that a lot of public sector workers have had pay freezes/falls in real terms during either austerity or/or world financial crash and recession. In the private sector historically, the fall in wages and refusal for wages to recover is seriously scary, you've having to look back to the 1930s, 1870s or even other catastrophic events back for similar comparisons. It's not to justify it, just saying large corporate retail companies see things exactly in these terms. Also the poor margins and many retail closures going on this year. It's quite a difficult one to swallow, but community pharmacy is dominated by retail companies. They see pharmacists as just people with an undergraduate degree and a bit of training who wear a funny hat who have status because the troublesome government has these law things, so it restricts things so market conditions mean they have to get paid more than about £12 an hour. Retail companies are past masters at it, they have plenty of skilled people with degrees working for them for minimum wage and a lot more just left to rot. I don't think pharmacy sees this as clearly as it might because of the baggage that comes with being a 'profession' and also in the past pharmacy must have been minted compared to today.
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marinade
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(Original post by truffle_999)
At the end of the day, it's all about supply and demand. 20-30 years ago, there was an anticipated need for pharmacists due to an increase in the aging population, but the number of pharmacists nowadays has exceeded the number of potential jobs. There’s a shortage for both locum and full-time employment, and some pharmacists are virtually being replaced by ACTs. Employers/business owners definitely have the upper hand here; If several qualified people are desperately applying for one job, they have the right to offer low pay as they benefit.

In no way am I trying to rain on anyones parade (including my own), but one would think that after 5 years of training, a pharmacist would and should be paid more!
Supply and demand is not a phrase I use much as there tend to be market distortions in real life and often very significant ones. I regard it is as a trivial solution that isn't really that interesting. I don't believe it's particularly relevant to pharmacy medium and long term in a very simplistic and direct way. Even if there were not such an oversupply of pharmacists I don't believe pay would be a single penny better. This is because of the squeeze of the NHS and big companies.

In the 1990s there was a lot of theory about a knowledge based economy and yes that happened, but also happened with every other degree.

The shortage of locum work I believe is a bit more complicated than that pictured. There are decent places where you can locum, that's very scarce, there are locum vacancies in places that are not nice to work for a variety of reasons. There always were geographic hot spots and cold spots for pharmacy work. There is also more work in retail pharmacy, but very poor hours and short shifts.

I think that pharmacists should get paid more, but for me it just ain't gonna happen if you have the NHS and large companies squeezing you and the dispensing model is basically like running a pound shop. Large companies and poor margins = big trouble for the workers. Others have their views and that's fine, I'm just saying it as an alternative viewpoint to the much discussed EU pharmacists/too many pharmacy school arguments.
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cxlvin
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RE. Optometry, it’s a very sales heavy job. You’ll essentially be responsible for dispensing glasses, you can’t perform eye tests and you can’t prescribe much.

Depends what you’re interested in, though I’ve heard from friends working in major high street stores that they feel undervalued and that the work is not at all like they expected.
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sachinisgod
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(Original post by truffle_999)
Hi,
Was there any particular internships/placements you did, or did you just apply straight after you gradated MPharm? Because a lot of the audit/accounting/finance routes look very competitive and most require some summer experience!

I'm not entirely sure I want to do a pre-reg with the current career prospects, so am looking for alternatives.
No not really, I didnt do any specific WE at all. Its just about demonstrating how your skills are transferable. Yes they are competitive and if i can get 1 place of 1000 from 30000 applicants despite coming with a 2:1 from a bog standard Non RG uni then anyone can.

Its about managing your time well at uni and applying for relevant opportunities rather than running around a pharmacy picking up medicines. Read up on publications and forums about what to expect!
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