Darius Randeria, RPh
In the past eighteen months, there has been an almost insidious change in pharmacy manpower needs. If you have been in the same job throughout, you may have only noticed these changes in a cursory fashion but if you work in recruiting or have been changing jobs, you will have noticed that there have definitely been some rather acute decreases in the demand for the average pharmacist. There are numerous reasons for this apparent abundance of pharmacists and some of them are regional, micro-economic factors such as local costs of living and the presence of certain local pharmacy chains. In the macro economy, the recession has squeezed cash-flow from many employers, pharmacy schools have produced more pharmacists, some say, “Over-produced”, and many retirees have come back in to the workplace to build up their 401k plans.
This shift has caused the pharmacist/employer relationship to shift from one favoring the pharmacist to one favoring the employer. Sign-on bonuses are rapidly disappearing, interns are having difficulty securing positions and pharmacists are once again becoming over-worked with vacation being handed out as if it were a gift from the gods.
This is most unfortunate and its effects could hamper the desperately important changes that are needed in the pharmacy workplace. It is always surprising to me that there is a core of extremely obvious changes that are needed in the pharmacy profession in order to make it a “Profession”, again. Almost all pharmacists feel strongly about them but there is no united voice or association to lobby from. We all know that pharmacists work ridiculous hours, have no proper patient medical history to base decisions, have limited power or protocol to question controlled substance issues, have limited powers to substitute and are generally dictated to by many individuals that cannot even spell the name of the drug, let alone decide whether it should be refilled or filled at all. Nobody asked us if we minded practicing pharmacy through a drive-through window, or working until 10PM.