A degree in pharmacy requires five years of study, typically including a four-year master's degree with an additional year of pre-registration training. Students are then required to pass a further pre-reg exam to confirm their eligibility.
With five years of dedicated and extensive training, it's wise to ask the question 'are pharmacists in demand' before you consider this vocation as a career and jump in with both feet.
Are Pharmacists in Demand?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of pharmacists is expected to show little to no change over the next decade; however, employment in retail pharmacies is expected to be impacted by the growing number of online pharmacies.
That being said, the story seems to be notably different from a domestic perspective on British soil. In 2018, The Pharmaceutical Journal published an article warning that Brexit could lead to a significant shortage of pharmacists in the UK.
Statistically, the number of pharmacists from the European Economic Area registering to practise in the UK has fallen by 80% since the Brexit vote. Should that trend continue, pharmacists could be in short supply, at least on these shores.
While the skills shortage should theoretically create lots of opportunities for qualified British pharmacists, it's worth noting that the world of pharmacy isn't the same as it was several years ago.
A combination of budget cuts and an increase in pharmacy schools over the last few years has led to lower wages, and many within the industry have been actively discouraging the younger generation from entering this field.
One primary area that has seen a notable influx of pharmacist jobs has been GP surgeries. As a result, it's become increasingly common to see pharmacists present in medical centres and group practices in the local community.
The duties of a clinical pharmacist include carrying out structured medication reviews for patients with ongoing health problems and improving patient care through a personable approach. The addition has made a valuable impact on service, improving a number of areas as a result.
The presence of pharmacists in a general practice surgery not only enhances the level of customer service, it also increases the capacity of the GP, optimises medicine use, and improves patient quality of life.
As a result of this successful trial, the positive trend looks set to continue, due in no small part to the NHS's renewed focus on general practices.
According to the NHS Long Term Plan, the health service is aiming to increase the number of clinical pharmacists over the coming years, made all the more likely thanks to the GP five-year contract framework introduced in January 2019.
This new contract is expected to create an influx of significant funding for the NHS, ensuring funds to support an additional 20k health professionals by 2023/24. Best of all, this stat notably includes clinical pharmacists by name within that prospective framework.
According to the details outlined in the new scheme, additional funds will meet a recurrent 70% of employment costs for new clinical pharmacists, as these professionals become part of the Primary Care Network's workforce team.
As a result of the proposed plans, bigger teams of health professionals will work across PCNs in community teams, providing tailored care for patients and allowing GPs to focus more on patients with complex needs.
Jobs in Pharmacy
In addition to NHS pharmacists working in hospitals and local surgeries, there are also job prospects within private hospitals and even the armed forces.
Meanwhile, private sector organisations also offer opportunities for pharmacists, notably pharmaceutical companies and those within the food and drink industry.
Research is another area that's frequently in need of pharmaceutical assistance, making academic pharmacy another worthy option.
Is Pharmacy in Demand?
So, while pharmacy and pharmacist jobs may not be the same as they were years ago, recent studies suggest that it is indeed a profession that will remain in demand.
In fact, according to prospects.ac.uk, over 82% of pharmacy graduates found employment within six months of graduation. Better yet, 98% of those employed graduates were working as pharmacists, providing positive employability prospects for anyone already studying pharmacy.
While the game may have changed somewhat in recent years, one thing that will not change is the core principles of the job.
Pharmacy remains a people-focused service and will always revolve around patients and medicine, regardless of whatever changes take place around it. Whether you are a people person studying pharmacy or you're already a fully-qualified pharmacist, a job in pharmacy offers a steady and fulfilling future.
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