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The struggle for jobs

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You would not be hailed as thenext Nostradamus for predicting the current state of the pharmacy jobmarket.  It's an inevitable consequenceof a more than doubling of the number of schools of pharmacy within the lastdecade.  A stagnating economy andausterity healthcare budget don't help.

This paints a bleak picture forcurrent pre-reg students, of which thereare 2,727.  Assuming a pass rate of90%, around 2,450 will register this year representing a 5% addition to theregister.  Where will these pharmacistswork? 

Pre-regs working for chains havebeen told there are not enough jobs for all of them.  Those offered jobs are rarely given full-timehours.  Pre-regs not offered a positionby their current employer face limited options.  The chains have filled mosttheir positions through internal recruitment.

Applying to independents is oneoption, but there are few positions available. Relocating is another, but it makes finding jobs only marginally easier,and the locations are often uninspiring for what are young professionals.  Locuming appeals to many, but there's noreason to expect work to be any easier to find, especially as newly qualifiedpharmacists on part-time contracts are increasingly used as a cost effectivealternative to locums.

My pre-reg peers working inhospital pharmacy tell a similar story.  DataI collected in 2012 suggests there are more hospital pre-reg positions thanjobs available after.  Those in hospitalpharmacy often view community pharmacy as their insurance option, furtherincreasing the competition for community positions.

It's a tough time, likely only toget tougher.  Two new schools of pharmacyin Birmingham and Durham are taking their first cohort this year.  People shouldn't be surprised by this.  Universities respond to the applicant market,not the job market.  There are, however, plansto restrict student numbers in the future.

Current pharmacy students shouldthink about what makes them different from the thousands of their peers.  Participating in societies and taking aninterest in the wider healthcare environment is vital.  Pre-reg training should be thought of as ayear-long interview.  Displayingcommercial awareness and contributing to store performance puts pre-regs in agood position.  Though there is anargument to be had about how commercial we want the profession to become.

For better or worse, employmentprospects in pharmacy are changing. ‘Adapt or be unemployed' may not be the most comforting advice forcurrent pharmacy students, but it's the most truthful.

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