Expectations Versus Reality: The Journey Of A Pharmacist ::

While in pharmacy school, you may have a vision of the kind of profession you are entering, one that is more idealistic, focusing on the healing aspect. But, like all professions, there is good and bad, and out in the working world, the reality is a little different.

Here are a few of the differences, as described by practicing pharmacists.

Patient care

In pharmacy school, patient care is the primary focus. For pharmacists, patient care involves advising and educating patients about their medications and managing medication therapy.

Residency programs for pharmacy students focus on opportunities to work with patients in cooperation with healthcare teams in order to gain experience in patient care.

However, patient care itself does not bring in any money, and this can present difficulties for independent pharmacists who own pharmacies. Pharmacists make their money filling prescriptions, and spending too much time with patient care can end up costing money.

Some put the cost of a pharmacist at about a dollar to $1.50 per minute. If a pharmacist is spending 20 or 30 minutes with a customer, and not filling prescriptions, he or she is losing money during that time.

Job prestige

Pharmacists are usually at or near the top of the list of the people most admired by the general public.

Pharmacy schools also echo this attitude, telling their students that pharmacists are well respected members of healthcare teams, viewed by everyone as the experts on drugs.

But a number of pharmacists in the working world say that the job does not carry the prestige that pharmacy schools would lead you to believe it has. For example, they say that pharmacists are seldom addressed as doctor, even though they have earned the degree and the title.

Pharmacists report run-ins with customers, who seem to care little that pharmacists are highly trained medical professionals, and show them little respect. The customers will argue with the pharmacist, demand answers, and exhibit other rude behavior.

Some pharmacists also say that they are not given the respect they deserve by physicians and even nurses.

Job Opportunities

Some pharmacy schools may also paint a rosier picture than actually exists when it comes to jobs, claiming a more robust growth in the profession than what is occurring. It is true that in the past, there were many more job openings than pharmacists to fill them. But many new pharmacy schools have opened, producing many more pharmacy graduates, while the job growth has tapered off.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a two percent decline in the number of pharmacy jobs overall between 2020 and 2030.

Still, more than 11,000 openings for pharmacists are projected each year in the coming decade. So, while in the past, new pharmacy graduates could be much more selective in where they wanted to work, pharmacy graduates today face a much tighter job market. While there are still plenty of opportunities out there, new graduates will have to work harder to find them.

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