Some not so great news has been reported by Drug Topics®. Upon releasing their annual report that surveyed pharmacist salaries, it was revealed that 7 out of 10 pharmacists were not happy with their jobs.
This information is key in assessing the overall level of fulfillment pharmacists derive from their jobs. Job satisfaction is a key indicator of the degree of engagement on the role which has a direct effect on happiness and fulfillment. A lack of fulfillment on the role can result in symptoms of burnout which includes emotional exhaustion, lack of feeling accomplished, and depersonalization, but that doesn’t include the myriad of other problems burnout leads to like , depression, anxiety, and even suicide.
Although this is anecdotal, the paradox is that a large number of pharmacists are on anti-anxiety medications, which they dispense to patients, and this is due to dissatisfaction with their jobs.
Pharmacist Salary Statistics
A recent report published on The Happy PharmD website showed that pharmacists have the 14th highest suicide rate out of over 400 occupations that were tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is a very concerning statistic.
According to the Drug Topics survey involving over 1000 pharmacists;
- 78% of the pharmacists who participated worked full-time, while 13.4% were under part-time employment.
- 69% of respondents reported earning at least $110,000 per annum; 13% earned $70,000 or less in the year under review.
- Also, 35% got a raise in salary;
Although the survey did not reveal the percentage of those with full-time jobs earning less than $100,000 per year, it appears to be a significant number.
By my estimation, the general salary curve in terms of first-time offers especially for new graduates, whether they are employed in a community or hospital setting, is projected to be going down.
Pharmacist Stress Levels and Workload
With regards to stress levels and job satisfaction, 73% of participants reported both increased stress levels and workload. While that is up from 61% in 2019 for stress levels, it is just a slight increase from 70% in 2019 for the workload. Even though the 2020 participants are different from the 2019 participants, the data show that there is an overall increase in stress levels.
It should be stated here that stress does not equal burn out, as they are quite different. The report also states that 79% of pharmacists indicated a higher work volume. It is therefore not surprising that 68% of pharmacists cited that their reason for considering a job change is as a result of their dissatisfaction with their current job, though the specific cause of this dissatisfaction was not stated in the report.
Furthermore, there is a common belief among pharmacists that they are understaffed. This was in some way supported by the report where it was indicated that a possible reason for increased stress levels is as a result of insufficient staffing support, and this may have contributed to the increased workload and overall stress levels.
Pharmacist Job Satisfaction
- 16% extremely satisfied.
- 15% very satisfied.
- 26% satisfied.
- 27% somewhat dissatisfied.
- 17% extremely dissatisfied.
This question design permits three positive answers and two negative ones, and from experience and observation can be said to be inherently flawed, because, the middle answer, in this case, the 26% that expressed satisfaction, are likely to not be sincere with their response. In my opinion, they are neither here nor there. The better 3rd answer should be neutral vs. “satisfied”.
Hence, by my estimation, 70% (26% + 27% + 17%) of pharmacists are unsatisfied with their current job.
What the values on job satisfaction truly reveal is that as much as 70% of pharmacists are either truly dissatisfied about their jobs or are indifferent. This includes those who said they are extremely dissatisfied, somewhat dissatisfied and those that are satisfied but in the real sense are just nonchalant. That leaves us with only 30% of individuals that are really satisfied with their jobs in a pool of a little over 1000 pharmacists.
It was also revealed that 44% of respondents were dissatisfied with their current position and 35% of this number were considering a change of roles as a result. A figure I expect to be a lot higher as those who said they were satisfied with their jobs were not asked if they were considering a role change and because it is expected that to have a happy career, one would often be on the lookout for new roles.
These pharmacists are not happy about their jobs but would rather stay in the role due to a perceived lack of options. Once you arrive at this point, where you begin to express apathy about the job, it is clear that your career trajectory is heading downhill.
However, I would like to think that this is not the case. Though the job market is tough you can navigate through it and land a good job. And to prove that, I recently spoke with Kevin Mero, pharmacy job market veteran and founder of JobRx.com, and he shared the site added nearly 13,000 Pharmacist jobs in December, 2020.
What are your reasons for looking for a job?
One cause for concern is that as much as 70% of pharmacists are dissatisfied with their current job. Pharmacist Chalene puts it this way, “When neutral about a job it may also be a defensive refusal to be dissatisfied”.
Sometimes, ego may make you persist with a job that you are tired of, as was the case with me. Even though I kept on making the bold proclamation (to myself) that I was going to leave, eventually, I stayed back and told myself I was going to keep trying at the job and see what happens. That eventually changed.
Adding Strategy to your Pharmacist Job Search: When I think of the fact that 70% of pharmacists expressed outright dissatisfaction with their jobs, I now begin to imagine what they are doing at this very moment. I would like to think that from experience they go about applying for as many jobs as possible without a clear strategy.
They eventually get tired after about 4 to 6 months after searching, and would eventually stay put in their job because their strategy does not work.
Now, imagine if you had a coach, like in a sports team, who runs the play with you, shares strategy and information with you about what is out there, builds upon the strategy, practices it and eventually implements it against the job market, which is your opposing team. The sad reality is that about a lot of these dissatisfied pharmacists do not have a coach to help them come up with a strategy against the job market.
At The Happy PharmD, we are committed to helping pharmacists through our proven strategies move into better roles that they will be happy in. Our strategies are based on the latest career development research, our combined pharmacy experience of 115 years, and based in reality of helping pharmacists with where they are and where they want to go for a career. A coach will help you identify your goals and prepare you to position yourself as a top candidate for that dream role.
The best time to plant a tree was 30 years ago. The second best time is today.
The best time to make that change is now, as the more you linger, more fresh graduates, as much as 14,000 in the United States will enter the already congested market place.
What’s Next for Pharmacists in the Job Market?
We believe pharmacists have potential, like a diamond in the rough. We’ve worked with pharmacists in great and tough situations to discover new and fulfilling careers paths to become Indispensable. If you feel like one of the 70% unsatisfied from work, know that can change because we’ve seen it over and over again.
You can set yourself apart from the crowd by getting a coach. We will coach you and help you make your individualized strategy. We offer complimentary career sessions and assessments provided by one of our growth advisors.
This assessment will help you understand what your options are, what pharmacy career paths are out there, and then create your next steps. Which, I won’t lie, I hope is the informed decision to work with us. This is our driving force; to reduce the number of pharmacists that are dissatisfied in their current roles and really make a difference in our profession.
Alex is the Founder of The Happy PharmD. He loves anime, his family, and video games, but not in that order.