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Are Universities to blame?

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Anybody who wants to become a pharmacist needs an accreditedMaster of Pharmacy degree. Simple. Or is it?

It may have been slow, but pharmacy graduates have beensteadily finding it harder and harder to get pre-reg placements and employmentafterwards. My first ever blog discussed this issue in detail, but I actuallybelieve I was wrong as to the reason why. Is it honestly our fault? Pharmacy isa vocational course so surely the number of course places should reflect thenumber of job opportunities; it is simply supply and demand after all. Therein laysthe problem.

It is nearly impossible for a new medical school to be formed;indeed most of the ones formed over 10 years ago required the formation of twouniversities or the re-establishment of an old school. With pharmacy this isnot the case, with there being very little barrier to entry for new schools toform other than reputation. For example, the Universities of Durham andBirmingham are opening pharmacy courses in the next few years with no issuesalbeit with some slight backlash from pharmacy professionals, rightly deservedtoo. Simply put, there will be an even higher supply of pharmacists but thedemand will remain the same, therefore resulting in greater competition andlower wages.

This would not be an issue if there were more pharmacies openingbut sadly this is not the case. With no more 100-hour pharmacy contracts beinggranted in the future it will be even harder for new pharmacies to open and besustainable. This could cause big problems for the profession in the future butthis is all theory at the moment of course.

So, you may be wondering why the universities are making thepharmacy course so popular if in the future their degree will not guarantee theirstudents a job, the main attraction of a vocational course. Well, the truth isI am not entirely sure. The most likely reason is due to the delay between theinflux of students and decline in job opportunities. In this time period the universitiescan capitalise on the new £9000 fees, especially on the 4-year course which mayalso be turned into a 5-year course, but that is another issue altogether.  I would love to get your view on the topicbecause this is entirely my own speculation. Would you choose pharmacy? I wouldprobably be even further inclined towards pharmacy than before because of thejob prospect and the new fees. If only I knew.

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