Is there ANYTHING good about pharmacy anymore?

I’m a junior in college and I changed my career from lab tech/medical technology to becoming a pharmacist. Now I’m starting to realize it’s been a huge mistake. Is it really that bad? I live in Northern Virginia and I can’t find a single opening for a pharmacy tech job, I mean imagine how bad it is trying to find one as a pharmacist. And pharmacists don’t even get paid that much, they start at like 70-80K a year now? What the hell? I don’t want to spend 8 years of my life and ~100K in debt for that! Plus all the hard work that goes into studying to be a pharmacist and how much more intense it gets one you get into pharmacy school. It doesn’t seem worth it. I mean I might as well go to med school with the same amount of stress but end up with a more respectable job with 2-3x as much the income! I’m seriously starting to back out of this whole thing. I thought this was a good idea but I guess not. I should have done like engineering or economics or something, they make just as much as a pharmacist does with half the amount of school. Why do you do pharmacy? Why are people going into pharmacy nowadays, to be a mini doctor? I don’t get it anymore. I do like medicine, I do want to help people, science and math are my strongest subjects, and I do like the job of a pharmacist for more than the income. At least I thought I did. There is nothing good about pharmacy anymore, I hate how there is no respect. I feel like I’m insulting myself sitting here studying organic chemistry for a job that’s so…unrewarding. It’s so discouraging making mistakes on my homework now because I’m like what’s the point? It feels like this is all for nothing. I should have done more research. I’m getting a panic attack. I don’t know what to do with my life anymore. Oh god. Sorry I didn’t mean to offend anyone, I just needed to vent a little.

Let’s be real, pharmacy is a good profession. It provides good work/life balance (for the most part) and good job satisfaction (we get to actually help people instead of just our employer), as well as fat paychecks.

In the retail setting, we ensure the patients know how to take their medication and understand the side effects and adverse reactions. To be blunt, the public is not that bright, especially regarding their medications. Even though they may complain and yell at us, in the end we are doing a good thing. Now whether the degree is actually put to use is another question, but for now its not THAT bad, besides the standing all day and crappy lunch breaks part. In all honesty, pharmacists get paid enough to be disrespected, its the techs that should be complaining…

In the hospital, you are oh so very important. The doctors diagnose and prescribe, and you make sure the current medication is dispensed and that the order is correct for the patient’s indication. Now, wouldn’t it be much better to be the bigshot doctor making 250k a year, with these pharmacist’s catching their many errors? Well, yes it would, but the opportunity cost of going through that much school and training is a dealbreaker for most people. I also think that pharmacist’s might have better work/life balance..but some of my preceptors work crazy hours.

On the flip side though,required 1 year residencies for many staff positions and 2nd year residencies most clinical positions, you might really just consider getting getting that MD if you really want to work in a hospital.

There’s other niche roles that specifically pharmacists can fill, such as nuclear and infusion- most people don’t do these, but they do exist! In both those roles, as well as in retail and hospital, you are still the top dog when it comes to medications. Think about that. And no one is getting 70-80k starting unless they are in something chill like infusion..but if that starts happening you should switch to pre-med, like right away.


You’re not even a pharmacist yet so you cannot accurately describe what it is like being a pharmacist.

Retail pharmacy is RETAIL. The way people deal with you is basically the same as they would deal with a shop keeper. People are rude, they talk to you whilst they are on the phone, they tell you to hurry up and they do not care.

Fat paycheck? See how fat it is when 127052179 pharmacists graduate looking for jobs and big corporate CVS/Walmart start reducing salaries when they realise pharmacists have no other option.

Working hours are awful, you have very few breaks and you have basically NO control over your hours.

You are an overeducated, overworked and decently paid shopkeeper in retail pharmacy.

Pharmacists are not paid enough to be disrespected? Thats incredibly ignorant.


I’m not a pharmacist yet, but I think i’ve seen enough of retail to see what my preceptors do, theres not THAT much to see in retail.

You are right about the cons. The day to day life is pretty draining, you don’t really get to sit or have breaks, you don’t get to go out with your coworkers for lunch everyday, and you may have to rotate weeks and holidays. No one wants to do the 2-9pm shift. There are some other clear cons, such as career and salary advancement. Barely any clinical knowledge is needed in the retail setting-but hey, that damn piece of paper is needed so i guess we have to play by the rules. As for rude patients, you gotta feel bad for the patients living their lives so angry and rude all the time, but you gotta remember we don’t know what else might be happening in their lives.

Jobwise, we do play a valuable role in the health of our patients. We can catch the errors of the doctors, (ex. asking the patient thats picking up a zpack and tessalon perles for their dry cough about their ace inhibitor)- and those few times we actually make a difference are quite rewarding.

Let’s talk about money. For 115-120k, straight out of school, you can bet quite a few people are envious of us. I don’t think a lot of Pharmacists, especially the 2+4 ones, can appreciate the deal we have. At a certain price point, retail pharmacy won’t be worth it, I’ll give you that, and for me anything under 100k i think i’d rather do something more chill. Think about that previous statement- how many people do you know can even say that? Pharmacists can get out of school at ~ age 24 and make 115k—theres a clear money vs. lifestyle tradeoff that most people can’t get even if they wanted.

The increase in the number of pharmacy schools is quite concerning, but until salaries start dropping, it’d be quite conceited of us to tell people to not go to pharmacy school while we continue to live it up.

The only people I would actively discourage from pharmacy are those who have to take out too many loans. At a certain point it becomes more practical to climb up the ladder in another profession vs. living like you’re broke for years..


There is 0 progression.

No matter how fucking good you are of a retail pharmacist, you can’t progress.


You should have done more research because you’re completely wrong on almost every point coming from a pharmacy student in Texas, Houston to be specific. I’m pretty sure nearly everyone, if not everyone, from our last graduating class has a job at this point. Starting salary for pharmacists in retail is 110k+. Tech jobs in CVS/Walgreens are pretty easy to get. We DO get respect once you get to know the customer base. Now.. Respect from supervisors, not your pharmacy manager but the people above them, is not guaranteed with all of the quotas and numbers and whatnot you have to meet. Also, in some cities, there is an overpopulation and it can be hard to get jobs. However, I’d be surprised if you worked for a pharmacy throughout school that you couldn’t get some sort of job there. Also, where do you work at you could start at 70k? Dispensing at a local, small small hospital? Yes, many people spell gloom and doom for pharmacy, but there are also many opportunities out there. We are getting to the same point law was at a few years ago. Jobs/huge salaries/bonuses are not the low hanging fruit anymore. You have to stand out to get what you want. Where you live is important, but what you typed out here is a severe overreaction. Maybe pharmacy isn’t for you, but that doesn’t mean it is a shitty profession with no outlook.


You live in texas that’s why you all got jobs so easily! I live in Virginia it’s so hard to find anything here!


Then either move or don’t do pharmacy if you think you can’t get a job. But just because it may not be the best situation where you live doesn’t mean it’s a shitty profession.


Then move. A lot more people move for salaries a lot less than you’d be getting.


Maybe as a technician, but I’ve searched the pharmacist job market in Virginia and it has been quite plentiful in my opinion.


I saw a lot of jobs in virginia too for a pharmacist and they were all retail. oh well at least there is something..


Well, retail is ever expanding. Hospitals are on fixed budgets and any expansion needs to undergo strict financial evaluation. With the exception of someone leaving their non-retail job, there has been little growth in that area of pharmacy.

CVS in my district is building 2 new pharmacies this year– that’s a growth of about 5-6 new pharmacists. A big hospital in my state has had a 0 net increase in full-time pharmacists (they lose 1, gain 1, etc.)

I’m pretty sure nearly everyone, if not everyone, from our last graduating class has a job at this point.

So you want to wait until none of your classmates get jobs before you starting warning people? You tell ’em P1!


Students keep making this point that everyone or almost everyone in their class got a job. This makes it seems like people are ignoring the obvious trends until they get smacked in the face with unemployment.


You are not guaranteed a job just because you go to school. I’m not worried about it because I work my ass off and do not feel bad for the people that glide through expecting a large pay check and guaranteed job. If you don’t want to work throughout school and then aren’t near the top of your class with a lot of officer positions/participated in a lot of stuff it’s your fault. Not mine. I had a shitty time finding a job after undergrad because I was just like everyone else. I didn’t stand out. I’m not making the same mistake twice and I will be rewarded for it. I don’t care about the people that refuse to do the same. They deserve it.


I agree with everything you say, but if you aren’t near guaranteed a fat paycheck and job I don’t see the point of into going into pharmacy. It simply is not an interesting field. How many students would be going in if the average salary was $70,000 or if the chance of getting a decent job was 70%? Prospective students hopefully have other options and should weigh pharmacy in light of its future prospects.


There is a reason why people still go to law school. A respected profession, which pharmacy still is despite what many say here, which makes good money, which simply won’t dive to 70k unless something drastic happens in the next 30 years or so. Law has much less of a guarantee for a job and starting salary can be much less unless you go to a good school or are at the top of your class. Pharmacy has good hours, good pay, and a good working environment. I love working with people and I love learning about medication and helping people with theirs. Just because it doesn’t interest you doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting. Pharmacy isn’t for everyone, just like medicine isn’t for everyone, just like law isn’t for everyone. And, also, just because lawyers are a dime a dozen, which they are, it doesn’t mean they don’t get paid well. Same with pharmacists. The pay won’t go down.


Pharmacy is a respected profession but RELATIVE to other grad schools, its not at all.

Medicine, dentistry and law(T14) are far more respected grad schools than pharmacy

Hence why no IVY league school has a pharmacy school.

Im not even going to go into how much more respected medicine and dentistry is compared to pharmacy in the UK – whole different ball game.


Yes they are. But I don’t think anyone thought otherwise going into the profession. If I wanted to be respected life a doctor I would’ve gone to medical school. I knew what I was getting into going to pharmacy school. I didn’t want the time put into education nor the hours mds work.


Dentistry? Law?

Both far more respected than pharmacy.


Yeah once again you’re not getting an argument from me. My wife is a lawyer. I agree. That doesn’t mean pharmacy isn’t a well respected profession.


Pharmacy isn’t for everyone, yet it is open for everyone. Completely different with Medicine, and even more different with competitive law schools that ensure only the competent attend.

Same with pharmacists. The pay won’t go down.

Pay has already dropped $15/hr where I live for new grads, and I’ve been working for more than a decade. You’re a P2, I strongly advise you to keep your opinion to yourself, especially when you have no idea about what you’re talking about – and even more so when you’re causing harm to other applicants.


The pharmacies I’ve worked at have had students come through and the quality of pharmacists that are being put out by these schools is scary. From an inability to make themselves understood in English, to not being able to take a phone order that made any sense, to not being able to follow simple instructions. Some of these people are just fucking idiots. (Though I will say almost every pharmacist I’ve worked with had been completely awesome, so maybe the terrible students go somewhere far, far away after they graduate.)

I know this sub loves its Kool-Aid and I’m bracing for the down-votes, so I’ll share a story to illustrate my point:

We had a P4 take a phone order from a dentist for Nystatin suspension. For the SIG he wrote: swish BID. That was it. He apparently had gotten through four years of pharmacy school without realizing that we had to tell both the patient and her insurance how much she should be using and telling her what she should be doing after she swished. Should she swallow? Spit? These are life’s important questions.

I had to call the office and get the full instructions. I got the assistant who had called in the script. She had given all the necessary information, the student just chose not to write any of it down. Made our pharmacy look really great.


But people still go to non-competitive law schools. I have a family member that is doing that right now will learn that it was a mistake soon enough, even though she was warned of it by everyone. And medicine is rather open to people, especially if you are willing to go to the Caribbean or out of state unless you really just have a super shit GPA/MCAT. A friend of mine had a 2.something GPA in undergrad, but he then got a masters, worked for a few years in research, and applied twice but he got in. Medicine IS open for everyone, it just depends how dedicated you are to trying to get in. Pharmacy just requires less dedication to get into, that is all.


it just depends how dedicated you are to trying to get in

No shit Sherlock, that’s the very reason of it being closed off to imbeciles, which pharmacy schools aren’t (case in point: half the students on this sub).

And medicine is rather open to people,

That alone should be a red flag to anyone reading your comments. Seriously, stop embarrassing yourself. Your idiot cousin making it to med school is an exception, not the norm. You have a hard time grasping simple concepts for some odd reason.


The smartest people in my pharmacy school class were med school rejects, that is all you need to know.


Do you think it’s hard to get a decent GPA/mcat and apply to schools around the nation/in the Caribbean? Because it really isn’t if you actually semi try in a non engineering major. I don’t see why you are so angry as well. I could’ve gone to med school if I wanted, but I chose not to because I didn’t want to be in school/residency for the next decade.

Also, there are no imbeciles in medical school? Pfffft. You’ve never interacted with people in med school if you think that. The lab I worked at before school was in a medical school and I interacted with the student population a lot. They aren’t all geniuses. You apply a few times with a decent GPA/MCAT and some extracurriculars and you can definitely get into med school. If you think otherwise it has been far too long since undergrad for you and you are out of touch.


Law school is completely different due to the ranking system of the schools. Going to Harvard will almost always make sense, going to University of Phoenix law not so much. Also law school enrollment has absolutely cratered in the past few years, so pre-law students are getting the message. The same will happen in pharmacy once people start having trouble finding jobs. You don’t invest 6 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars for a chance at a job.


Cratered? No that’s not the case. People are still going to shitty law schools, though the law field has picked back up after it cratered 5 years ago or whenever it did. And yes, eventually the pharmacy school bubble will pop, and I’m fine with that. The profession might be tight with jobs for a few years but it will recover. If you go to a good school and work hard and stand out you will still get a job. No one is forcing people to go to shit tier schools and not set themselves apart. They made that choice and could suffer because of it.

Edit: Also, yes, people do invest that in graduate school quite often. It sucks when it happens, but it happens. That is a risk you take. If you aren’t willing to do more than the bare minimum you could get fucked. You don’t see too many people that go to pharmacy school, really do what they can to set themselves apart, and STILL not have a job after.


Law School Stats

Matriculants: 2010: 52,500

2011: 48,700 (-7.2%)

2012: 44,500 (-8.6%)

2013: 39,700 (-10.8%)

2014: 37,600* (-5.3%)


39,000 people is still a lot, but when the schools are used to 50,000+ it is a big deal. There is talk of a few schools closing, we can only hope the decline in pharmacy enrollment starts soon.


I knew it declined but I really didn’t think it had that much. Once again, I’m just used to Texas area schools and A&M just opened, or rather bought, a law school and people seem to be getting in all the time. Huh. I am wrong about that then.

And I am FULLY in support of pharmacy enrollment declining/states stopping new schools from opening. I hate that my school is accepting so many students. It makes the rest of us look bad when there are a bunch that are lazy/not dedicated/just not smart enough to be in a doctorate program.


I’m saying if everyone has a job, I don’t see the issue. There is quite the drop off from everyone getting a job to no one getting jobs, don’t you think? I’m not saying pharmacy is for everyone or that everyone everywhere will get jobs, I’m just saying that a lot of stuff in his spiel was not true.


I’m sure other people will fill you in about the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ aspects of pharmacy. However you said you were a Junior in college? Sounds like you still have time to change. If you don’t want to go to medical school- have you considered becoming physician assistant? Less schooling requirements, all the medicines/science/math/helping people aspects, ~90k. I believe the pre-req’s for PA school are similar to pre-med/pharm/dental.


My gpa is 3.37 which is pretty horrible, i dont think med school would accept me. not even dental school


That’s not that bad a GPA. That’s high B, low A level stuff. Not everybody that goes to med school is a 4.0 A+ across the board student. I’m sure there are even med students out there that had a 3.0. If you do well on the MCAT, took really hard classes, or had lots of relevant extracurriculars, admissions committees look at all that.

Here most dental schools have a mean GPA of 3.3-3.5, ehich means plenty of people get in that ar under that range. Don’t beat yourself up over GPA, that’s just a number and it doesn’t really affect anything unless it’s really good or really bad.


well i dont have any extracirriculars or any jobs experience so i think im a pretty horrible candidate. thanks for the encouragement anyway, and good luck with your final year in pharmacy school 😀


Thanks, I was just trying to be encouraging. I was in a similar boat in applying for pharmacy school. My GPA was 3.1-2 range if I remember correctly and didn’t have much else going on. Got a high seventies on the PCAT and wound up getting accepted to every program I sat for an interview for.

Obviously med school may be a little harder, but not by too much I wouldn’t think. If you want a program that’s ridiculously hard to get into, look at vet school. That’s some of the most competitive group of folks I’ve ever seen.


Well I’m glad you got accepted and made it to the final stages! I hope you get a job you like afterwards too, It’s so discouraging to see so many pharmacists unhappy after school or going back to change their major. I think there was someone on here who changed their major a few months after pharmacy school and went to med school. I never thought about vet school! i love animals but i just dont like invasive surgery and looking at gore and stuff…one of the reasons I dont want to be a doctor either..


You seem to be looking at this in entirely the wrong way. You only care how much money you’d make. Pharmacists who only care how much money they make don’t care about the patients; they are shitty pharmacists. I mean, I care how much money I make. I want to provide a comfortable lifestyle for my family. But to me, patient care comes first. You’re simply a mercenary.


There are times when I dont like my job, but working in a pharmacy gives me some pride knowing that I’m doing something good for someone else. A lot of people cant help themselves, and often dont even know what medications they’re taking. Even doing something as simple as billing their aspirin knowing that I’m having a part in making someones day a tiny bit easier or pain free is worth it.


It really depends on the location of who you ask. Of course us Texas pharmacists are going to like our jobs but imagine if you’re an Oklahoma pharmacist where slave labor is legal (you can’t leave the pharmacy to use the restroom without completely shutting the pharmacy down).