A Looming Joblessness Crisis for New Pharmacy Graduates and the Implications It Holds for the Academy

Daniel L. Brown, PharmD


Am J Pharm Educ. 2013;77(5) 

In This Article

Challenges Going Forward

Regardless of the job market, those new graduates who are "fittest" will be able to find employment. But the profession of pharmacy should not fall victim to viewing graduates as commodities who must fend for themselves in Darwinian fashion. Some might opine that the profession would benefit from filtering out its less capable pharmacists, but faculty members and administrators must not become insensitive to the plight of each graduate amid a backdrop of broader institutional concerns. The academy must honor its fiduciary responsibility as teachers, first and foremost, to serve the best interests of every student. The academy exists for students and because of students—the reality of which is going to become gravely evident as 2020 approaches. Pharmacy colleges and schools would be wise to revisit their respective strategic plans and prepare for a new era in which the challenges of recruiting and admitting student applicants will be vastly different from just a few years ago.

In the meantime, it is incumbent upon the academy to responsibly focus on that which is within its control. Growth of the academy needs to cease forthwith. Institutions considering establishment of a new PharmD program should be discouraged from doing so by all sectors of the profession. Existing programs contemplating expansion should seriously consider putting their plans on hold.

All of the profession's organizations need to focus more heavily on establishing new pharmacist roles and activities that will create sustainable jobs as rapidly as possible. The patient care vision of pharmacists widely employed as ambulatory clinic practitioners may need to give way to a more practical vision of a new breed of community pharmacy practitioner, such that new jobs are the result of expanded patient care roles rather than increased prescription volume or the construction of new stores.[15] To better influence job creation, academia would be well served to pay greater attention to where the majority of pharmacists practice: community retail pharmacies. If the academy is to remain on a path of growth, let the emphasis shift from PharmD expansion to the formation of partnerships that establish new community pharmacy residencies. That is where the innovative clinical leaders of tomorrow are most needed.

No one could have anticipated the magnitude of academic growth that has taken place since 2000. Likewise, no one knows what the future holds for those who are about to embark on a career in pharmacy. Those in academia should look to the future with hope and optimism, born of the knowledge that the academy has done everything possible to prepare the next generation of pharmacists for whatever lies ahead.