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Is a Career in Pharmacy Worth It?

Pharmacists are well-respected members of an integrated healthcare team. Deciding whether or not to become a pharmacist is a big decision. There’s the financial investment to consider, the time commitment, and the potential to affect your work-life balance. There are certainly no guarantees in life, but are there guidelines to help you determine if a career in pharmacy is worth pursuing?

Yes! We’ve listed a few of the many reasons why a career in pharmacy is worth your time and investment. Read on to learn what they are.

The Job Market Is Teeming With Opportunity

The pharmacist’s career outlook is decidedly encouraging. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects employment of pharmacists to grow three percent from 2022 to 2032, roughly as fast as the average for all occupations. That means about 13,400 new jobs will open up each year over the next decade.

There are ample opportunities for community-based and hospital pharmacist jobs; you can work anywhere in the U.S. There’s a pharmacy within five miles of 9 out of 10 Americans.

Contributing Factors

The U.S. Census Bureau projects older adults will exceed the number of children under 18 for the first time in U.S. history by 2034, and 73 million baby boomers will turn 65 by 2030. Why is this relevant? Because older patients typically require more prescription medications and complicated drug regimens than their younger counterparts. Our older population has also highlighted the need for long-term care and pharmacy consultants.

Simultaneously, the demand for prescription drugs has dramatically increased over the last few decades. Last year, the total number of prescriptions dispensed reached 6.47 billion, an increase from 3.95 billion in 2009.

As the pharmacist's role continues to expand beyond traditional drug dispensing, you will have more opportunities beyond patient care. Let’s look at where you might work as a pharmacist and examine scenarios for the future.

You Can Step Out from Behind the Counter

There’s more to pharmacy than community pharmacy. Pharmacists don’t just focus on filling prescriptions and dispensing medications. Pharmacists can practice in various settings, some of which are new and unconventional.

Conventional Roles

Community pharmacists work in community settings. They dispense medications, answer questions, and may also give flu shots and other vaccines or perform preventive health screenings. These are the pharmacists you see at Walgreens, CVS, and other retailers and independent community-based pharmacies.

Pharmacists provide patient care in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings. They recommend and manage the dosage and delivery of medications to patients, monitor their progress, and evaluate the drug’s efficacy. Some pharmacists earn credentials to work in specialty clinics where they counsel patients on medication management and advise on healthy lifestyle choices.

Consulting pharmacists advise healthcare facilities or insurance providers. They collaborate with healthcare team members to promote safe and effective drug therapy and recommend ways to ensure compliance with state and federal laws and regulations.

Pharmaceutical industry pharmacists work in marketing, sales, research, and product development. Within these corporate environments, they work in clinical research, drug safety, medical affairs, medical writing, regulatory affairs, and education. They might also hold traditional marketing, sales, finance, and legal positions.

Unconventional Roles

The job market post-COVID-19 is ripe for exploring unconventional pharmacy careers beyond patient care, pharmaceuticals, and research. The American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education (AJPE) calls these unconventional pharmacy positions “pharmacist innovator” roles. AJPE notes that the pandemic and the opioid crisis have created new opportunities for pharmacists in areas such as public health, substance abuse treatment, and immunization.

Marrying the soft skills inherent in pharmacists — problem-solving, collaboration, cultural sensitivity, communication, self-awareness, leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurship — with technical pharmaceutical skills, pharmacists can apply their degrees in many unconventional ways. According to the AJPE, these areas are:

  • Academia
  • Federal government agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
  • Managed care, working in health management organizations
  • Nonprofit association leadership or management
  • Quality improvement in health systems or pharmaceutical companies
  • Specialty pharmacy distribution and management
  • State and regional health organizations, such as departments of health or public service
  • Supply chain and distribution management
  • Telepharmacy
  • Travel pharmacy

Read more: What can you do with a Doctor of Pharmacy?

You Can Earn Six Figures

A career in pharmacy is lucrative. The median annual pharmacist salary was $132,750 last year; the top 10 percent earned more than $164,000.

Take a look at the top four industries in which pharmacists earned the highest median annual salaries:

  • General merchandise retailers $139,680
  • Ambulatory healthcare services $138,720
  • Hospitals; state, local, and private $137,440
  • Pharmacies and drug retailers $129,920

Find out the average median salary in your state to see how it ranks nationally.

You Can Enjoy Flexible Hours

Nontraditional work schedules are another advantage to a career in pharmacy. Pharmacists are needed across the country in a variety of capacities. Day, night, and days-on/days-off shifts can offer flexibility to suit your lifestyle, depending on the practice setting.

Additionally, there are increasing opportunities to work remotely from home, providing pharmaceutical services to healthcare facilities and mail-order pharmacies.

You Can Help People

Abundant employment opportunities, a variety of work environments from which to choose, and a six-figure salary aren’t the only reasons to pursue pharmacy as your career and your calling.

Pharmacists are widely respected because they help people. A Gallup poll reported more than 70 percent of people polled highly rated pharmacists’ honesty and ethics. One of the best ways to make a difference in the lives of others is to work in healthcare. As a pharmacist, researcher, or innovator, you are an integral part of the continuity of care.

You can feel good about choosing a career in pharmacy because you are contributing to the health and well-being of your community.

How Do I Get Started?

Earning a Doctor of Pharmacy degree is the first step. The University of Findlay (UF) offers a Distance Pharm.D. program with fully online coursework, on-campus immersions, and experiential learning in convenient locations.

The University of Findlay’s Distance Pharm.D. is fully accredited and nationally ranked. The PCAT is not required to enroll in this program. To learn more about this innovatively designed pathway to a degree in pharmacy, visit UF’s Distance Doctor of Pharmacy program. Or find out more about University of Findlay’s on campus Pharm.D. and other program options.

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