Pharmacy as a job is only the 45th best job to work and have in the USA? Many people seem somewhat surprised that working as a pharmacist is considered to be only the forty-fifth best job to have in the nation. In addition to the “Best Paying Job” rankings we previously discussed, US News also recently released their annual 2018 “Best Jobs” list. Using a somewhat complicated set of criteria that took into account each profession’s median annual salary, the growth of new jobs over the next ten years, job stability, current unemployment data, plus some subjective criteria like personal balance, job satisfaction and stress on the job, working as an RPh came in at forty-fifth (out of one-hundred) on the US News’ 2018 list. I don’t know how other pharmacists may feel about this ranking, but as a pharmacist myself I find this result somewhat disturbing and perhaps even a bit disappointing.
Jobs Ranked Above Pharmacy
Being listed as a “Best Job” is obviously a very subjective issue, as job satisfaction in an industry is a personal matter. Every industry has something to offer an individual, plus enjoying both the job and the lifestyle associated with a profession truly depends on a person’s unique needs and desires. Yet the jobs that ranked above pharmacy are extremely interesting. As was seen with the list from US News regarding the “Best Paying Jobs“, as expected healthcare positions again dominate the top of the 2018 “Best Job” list:
– Dentist #2
– Physician Assistant #3
– Nurse Practitioner #4
– Orthodontist #5
– Pediatrician #7
– Physician #8
– Obstetrician and Gynecologist #9
– Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon #10
Yet when one takes a closer look and reviews a sampling of the jobs ranked above being a pharmacist, some interesting and surprising professions are seen:
– Software Developer #1
– Statistician #6
– Actuary #24
– Mathematician #25
– Diagnostic Medical Sonographer #26
– Cost Estimator #27
– Lawyer #33
– Nurse Midwife #35
– Speech-Language Pathologist #38
No one can question that each of these professions is enjoyed by their practitioners and can result in personal job satisfaction, yet as a pharmacist I personally find the list surprising. The most interesting fact that the list revealed may be the fact that a majority of these jobs “out-ranking” pharmacist require very little interaction with others, especially the public. Perhaps that leads to a much lower stress level than when compared with pharmacy jobs. Almost everyone agrees that the practice of pharmacy is perhaps one of the most stressful jobs that there is, requiring a practitioner to have great communication skills and almost unlimited patience. Many individuals that are of an introverted nature and prefer to work in a more isolated job environment may find that the practice of pharmacy as a career is therefor not to their liking.
Specific Pharmacy Job Types or Practice Areas
Perhaps breaking the profession of pharmacy down further into specific jobs or practice areas should be considered for next year’s list by US News. Just as doctors and physicians are comprised of various additional specialty types (pediatricians, surgeons, gynecologists, radiologists, etc.), pharmacists also fall into various job categories. Perhaps it is unfair to simply rate the entire profession as a “lump sum” and distinct areas of specialized practice would reveal truer results regarding pharmacist and “best jobs”. Most would agree that the subjective criteria used as part of the rankings (personal balance, job satisfaction, growth, flexibility, stress on the job, etc.) vary in different pharmacy settings and areas. Consider for yourself how the subjective criteria would change dramatically for each of these practice areas:
– Retail pharmacy
– Hospital pharmacy
– Mail-order pharmacy
– IV infusion
– Institutional pharmacy
– Clinical pharmacist
– Nuclear pharmacy
Conclusions Regarding Pharmacy Jobs Ranking #45
Even though a pharmacist job ranked as the twenty-first (21st) best paying position in the nation to have by US News in their 2018 list, salary alone obviously is not sufficient enough to make pharmacy as attractive a profession to work in as many would have thought. With an average salary of over $120,000 and an employment rate of less than two percent, the following factors were noted as contributing to the lower rank for job satisfaction:
Pharmacy jobs were rated as below average in regards to flexibility. This was noted in numerous areas, including work hours, scheduling, geography and job environment. The inability to work from home for many is a major inflexibility associated with the profession of pharmacy. In this age of “virtualization”, a lot of jobs like computer programming and software development are viewed as more attractive by younger professionals (especially the millennials).
Geographical inflexibility was also tied to being a pharmacist. The complex issue of license reciprocity (and the complete lack of reciprocity by some states) makes future geographic movement unappealing when considering a profession to embrace.
Pharmacy jobs were also rated as below average in regards to future growth. Many view pharmacy as a “one trick pony” when it comes to switching practice areas. With almost 18,000 available jobs, one could argue that pharmacists are in demand. However, the majority of these open positions are primarily in retail pharmacy settings, and switching between hospital and retail job environments is not viewed as an easy transition. As we’ve previously discussed, the future of the pharmacy job market may actually be shifting to the hospital setting, and many retail pharmacists do not have the skills or experience to make such a transition.
– Stress and Work/Life Balance
As already noted, being an RPh is a stressful job. Who could watch a pharmacist working in a busy retail pharmacy and view the job as attractive? Working every day with patients who are sick and ill, the “pressure” of filling prescriptions quickly (even though making an error could be harmful or even fatal), plus having to stand on your feet throughout the entire day, all may make the job unappealing when considered by many individuals.
Work/Life Balance was also viewed as below average when US News compared the profession to others. With so much emphasis being placed on work-life balance by individuals choosing their career paths, the proper prioritization between work (career and ambition) and lifestyle (health, leisure and family) was seen as lacking when it came to the practice of pharmacy.
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