Although the supply of pharmacists appears to be catching up with demand, 2015 still looks to be a good year for Pharm D grads.
There has been a rough balance over the past few years between the number of graduates and the number of job openings. This equilibrium should hold for the next several years, but beyond that, pharmacists say, there is a lot of uncertainty about the job market.
Much of the uncertainty is due to the number of new pharmacy schools that have opened around the country. There are 17 new pharmacy schools that have not produced any graduates yet. Other existing schools have also expanded their programs, enrolling more students – and future graduates. There are also plans to open new schools within the next two to three years. From 2005 to 2012, at least four new pharmacy schools opened each year.
With all of these new graduates in the pipeline, there is a possibility of a surplus at some point in the future and the job market could feel the impact for the next eight years. Soon, the schools will be turning out 15,000 new pharmacy graduates each year.
While the number of graduates can be predicted with a high degree of certainty, things aren’t nearly as clear on the demand side of the equation. Maintaining equilibrium is based on certain assumptions and conditions, and they could change.
Another big unknown is the effect that the Affordable Care Act will have on the demand for pharmacists. One area that may have a big impact on pharmacy is the Medicaid expansion. This may lead to more Medicaid prescriptions for community pharmacies and the possibility for pharmacists to become more involved in preventative services, such as health screenings and immunizations.
So, a certain tightening in the job market because of the increase in graduates may make it a bit more challenging for new pharmacists to find the job they want, but for those who have done well in school and are flexible, as far as work assignments and location, there should be no problem finding jobs.