Pharmacist Demand and Speculation
As the complexity and quantity of various pharmaceuticals increased through invention and discovery, the demand for pharmacists increased exponentially. This increase in demand grew through the 1990s and 2000s until the most recent years. This increase in demand can be attributed to greater healthcare coverage, an increase in the drugs available and prescribed as well as the Medicare expansion for prescription drugs. Due to these factors, as well as others, pharmacists were expected to be in high demand through at least 2016-2020.
With this expected demand growth, pharmacist salaries grew exponentially until 2011. In 2011 pharmacist salaries halted in growth and hours. Job prospects became more noticeably limited while pharmacist responsibilities grew. The various responsibilities of pharmacists have grown to include MTM, vaccinations, blood pressure screening as well as a large increase in prescriptions to be filled. These higher demands do not provide larger benefits or salary opportunities other
than a miniscule increase in healthcare responsibility. These greater responsibilities are limited in the sense that they do not effectively provide reimbursement for the services offered.
As the medical world expanded, so did the number of pharmacy graduates. The rate of pharmacists graduating every year has increased consistently and has
dramatically slowed the expected demand for the profession. The problem of a
dramatically increased supply of pharmacists is not the only factor in considering
pharmacy demand and job outlook.
Pharmacist salaries increased very rapidly throughout the last 2 decades and have now left pharmacies such as Walgreens, CVS, Target, etc. with a demand for more pharmacists but an inability to afford such a costly employee. As pharmacists report, they are under a growing amount of stress and are too busy to finish all of their assignments within their shift, and the overtime doesn’t count. Pharmacies could easily use more pharmacists if they were more affordable, but the past demand forced salaries to grow too rapidly and the standard was set.
Good news comes due to several factors, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Great Baby Boom of Post-World War II. As the ACA begins to be implemented the amount of individuals with healthcare will increase dramatically as will the amount of prescriptions needing to be filled. At about the same time the ACA is being implemented and effective, the baby boomer generation is expected to begin retiring in waves.
Questions to ponder are:
- Should pharmacy schools become more competitive/limit acceptance in order to limit supply?
- Should pharmacists sacrifice their large salary increases in order to maintain more sustainable pharmacies and work environments?
- How can we better get reimbursed for our “extracurricular” services?
-Arthur Yakov Krichevsky