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Readers Respond: The Real Life of a Pharmacist

Responses: 42

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When choosing a career, it is helpful to get information about it from those who actually work in the occupation one is considering. Please share information about your career as a pharmacist so that those thinking of entering this field can make an informed decision.

  1. Describe what you do as a pharmacist?
  2. What do you like about being a pharmacist? What don't you like about it?
  3. With the proper training, how easy or difficult is it for someone to get an entry level job as a pharmacist?
  4. Are you happy you became a pharmacist? Why or why not?
Tell Us About Your Job

Terrible Choice

I made the decision to be a RPh simply on the fact I enjoyed biochemistry, i thought i would help people, and it had great starting pay. The field has changed so much in the last 10 years. I am a retail pharmacist, but I do find that my friends in hospital enjoy their jobs a little more than the chain guys. I floated in many states ( my wife was a Med School Intern/Resident/ now MD ) and I have yet to work with another pharmacist who I would say enjoys their job. The reimbursement rate on drugs has gotten so low that the big chains can not show the investors enough growth, so they are constantly cutting hours, even while the number of Rx's are increasing. They expect you to give immunizations anytime, and they expect you to keep wait times low. The market is flooded in my state, since the Board of Pharmacy thought opening 4 schools in the last 8 years was a great idea. The employers and patients treat you like garbage. I hope this helps someone stay away from a miserable life. If you think the money is worth being treated with complete disrespect every day and having a store manager ( with 1/10th your education, and zero pharmacy experience ) telling you how to do your job, then enjoy.
—Guest miserablerph

Well paid for easy work

A lot of complaints on here about being paid really well for doing a really easy job. Know that as a pharmacist, you are the bridge between complicated medical knowledge and the uneducated public. It is a thankless job at times, but people don't know what they don't know. So, how can they really thank you for what you do for them… Older pharmacists expect to keep the good 'ol times rollin and not have to take a hit in some creature comforts when the economy tanked. Look at how well you are doing as a pharmacist compared to the people you help on a daily basis and stop being so negative about the career field.
—Guest Guest

Pharmacist

The pharmacy profession is run by corporations whose only goal is profit, nothing else. They know they have all over a barrel . So they add on more work knowing it can't be finished in 12 hours. The 12 hour day stretches on to 14 or 15. It' easy for the RPM to say " it only takes a few more minutes" but there is still only 24 hours in a day . This stressful 14 hours carries over to your day off, your spouse , children etc. after 25 years I'm burnt out. The anxiety levels you carry around ruin everything else in life. If you're new in the profession " get out " . If you're thinking about it " forget it" . You never appreciated a holiday or picking your own vacation time till you no longer can. Don't waste any more of your life!
—jrrocket1

Stressful, so stressful

I started working as a pharmacist 20 years ago. I was so excited when I first got hired. I have a picture of myself all giddy wearing a lab gown that has my name on it. I transferred to another store that offered a higher pay. I have 2 techs to help me. I work 12 hrs a day, 14 days straight and 14 days off. I was alive, 20yrs ago. Now, I couldn't even recognize myself. This is a stressful job. To tell you honestly, if I only knew I'd turn out like this, I would never have taken this major. I get anxious all the time. My tech's fault is mine to bear. In this job, mistakes are serious. I'm always at the edge. Even if I'm home, I think of work and recall any situation that nags me. It must be my karma. I became a pharmacist for the money, so did everyone else, anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar. i can't sleep right. I look way older for my age, people think i'm 65, i'm only 50. I am not happy. Yes, I get paid 6 figures but is it worth it? At the end of the day... No, it's not.
—Guest IfOnly

what is pharmacist career like

My background is retail & I have worked this for 15 years. I will explain what it is like for the three settings I have experienced. First, I was new and working frantically at a busy pharmacy with no breaks and lunch. I sometimes didn't finish it all. A few mishaps would occur that were stressful but I could leave the work behind for the most part and just go home. I got faster and made less mistakes in time. Very rewarding and treated well. (1990s). Next, Pharmacy Manager by default due to huge Pharmacist shortage. I was at a slower store doing everything with sense of autonomy. When my 1 tech was sick I worked even harder. I worked extra shifts because nobody available to work. Treated reasonable well by company. Legs started hurting but would recover. Current, staff much more involved now with coupons, vaccines, less tech hours. Work hard, but now I seem to be expendable. Took some great vacations and was able to buy a home. Worse, my legs really hurt.
—deanaz1

Degree and tuition down the drain

I graduated in 2011 and I still can't find an internship which I have offered to do for free ... students don't listen to what they tell you at uni, there are no jobs out there. If you don't believe me or the other comments out there then go and try to volunteer at a pharmacy and see for yourself before it's too late
—Guest Dante

Pharmacists still important profession

I am currently practicing as a pharmacist in supply chain management. I believe that pharmacy is not limited to retail only. There are so many avenues one can take after acquiring a pharmd or bpharm.hons degree. I have so much joy coming to work and making a difference in my community. I believe it's not only about money but about what you want. If it suits you money will indeed follow you. I am a living testimony and I am not ashamed to be a pharmacist.
—shyldine

pharmacy the ungrateful profession

After 30 years in the profession, 23 of which in a major chain, I have found myself on the street. No longer needed and too slow for the business this is what awaits you after years of loyalty and making $ for the man. If you are smart you will run and find something like a real profession. Or better yet do something you really love and you won't work a day in your life.......
—Guest dolly 33

It's a good job if you're on a diet.

Been doing this gig for 30+ years. During my first week on the job I tried taking a lunch break. I just sat down and a customer started screaming obscenities because I was unavailable. That ended my first lunch break and it was my last lunch break for over 20 years. My current employer allows me a 30 minute break by closing the gate. The customers still sneer at me before I leave and mock me when I return. Why do I even bother? The wages have been good. Paid for my kids college education, paid off the house, I'm debt free and have money under the mattress. Take that for whatever it's worth. Have a nice day!
—Guest Mikie

I wish I was a pharm tech first

Describe what you do as a pharmacist? Answer people's questions about where the bathroom is, where the toilet paper is, and where the Tylenol is, in that order. Then I look at the vial in my hand to check if the tablets in it are right, but I'm interrupted by the ringing of the phone. Gotta answer it. Oh yeah , and there's two customers in line waiting and since it's the weekend I have no tech to help me. What do you like about being a pharmacist? I like the occasional customer who is actually grateful for my advice. I like nice techs who will do their best to help me. What don't you like about it? Just read the other posts here. With the proper training, how easy or difficult is it for someone to get an entry level job as a pharmacist? Quite easy, if you're willing to move to rural Minnesota. Are you happy you became a pharmacist? No. Why or why not? Didn't turn out the way I thought it would.
—Guest Ima Pharmacist

Pharmacy is now nothing but Misery

As a senior in hs back in 1980, I was told by a pharmacist to avoid the profession. I ignored him and graduated 2nd in my class. I began my career when jobs where plentiful and salaries climbed. Retail has always had it's measure of stress and frustrations, but something in the last 5 or 6 six years has changed dramatically and it's NOT been for the good. It's all economics, really. Insurance reimbursement has plummeted and the only way for chains to make money is to force us to do much more with much much less. Workloads have skyrocketed and tech help declined. With the pharmacist glut, the chains can now take gross advantage of us. As we older (!) pharmacists get fired, or drop out because we can't keep pace, YOU WILL SEE A DRAMATIC DROP IN RPH WAGES VERY VERY SOON! Pharmacists must go thru a long and difficult education and licensing process. It is no longer worth it. EVERY single retail pharmacist I know is miserable. If you are considering pharmacy school....don't.
—Guest Rickrph141

run fast...now!

Almost 10 years in retail in a busy store and I can tell you, retail pharmacy is not for most people. The abuse, the lack of help, the nonexistant breaks, the backstabbing coworkers. I like (not love) my paycheck. It is not the level it should be but I am thankful I have a job. For those of you in school, think twice. Retail is stressful and for those who are in school and say retail is wonderful, you are in the minority. It stinks. Selling needles to junkies, hearing excuses for early fills, suboxone freaks, bipolar coworkers..sound familiar anyone? Like what you hear, then go for it. I am counting down to retirement.
—Guest don't do it

Do not attempt

I read the previous posts as looking for another career. So much rings true. I have been a pharmacist for over 10 years and the working conditions have declined dramatically. I finished pharmacy school at the top of my class, completed a residency and am a veteran. I have worked both clinical and retail positions. When I first started my career the shortage made conditions acceptable, but now the workload is becoming unbearable I have stayed late many a time on my own time to finish work. Breaks non existent, safety of staff and customers compromised. If you are smart enough to be accepted to pharmacy school, you can choose another career before starting. Don't believe me, work as a tech first that will provide some education.
—johnrph01

About being a pharmacist.

If you plan on retail, be prepared to be more of a salesperson than a healthcare professional. No breaks, no respect, and my employer now expects me to go door to door to businesses to recruit "flu shot opportunities". On my own time of course. And be prepared for the forced overtime at straight pay to even be able to give a flu shot clinic. Not at all what I bargained for. My boss all but told me to fill bad Rxs because if not able to be verified, we MUST give them the benefit of doubt. Even when the orthopedic "nurse" calls in with baby crying and dog barking in the background. Some get bad scripts made up with their own phone numbers printed on them. Caught one answering the verification call from my waiting area. Repeated forgeries? No problem. We are not to lose a dollar so we welcome your repeat business. Needles in parking lot? Still expected to sell them. Must give the benefit of doubt. I'm sure my company will not stand behind me if the board were to reprimand me.
—Guest Rather not say

tony

Do NOT do a pharmacy degree. I did it 20 years ago. There were loads of jobs then. Now there are far too many new pharmacists. Plus the employers expect you to dispense twice as many scrips and do extra services eg. immunisation and medicine reviews. It is a thankless task. Repeat: do not do a pharmacy degree.
—Guest tony

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The Real Life of a Pharmacist

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