Pharmacist Shortages in 2020 and Beyond

As most in the profession are aware, the job market for pharmacists has become more competitive as the number of pharmacy schools has grown. There have been big shifts in supply and demand. Employment projections have done a major turnabout, from projected shortages to an impending surplus.

The Pharmacy Demand Indicator (PDI) is now hovering around a rating of 3 nationally, which indicates an equilibrium between supply and demand. The PDI ratings show some mild spikes in demand oversupply in the north-central Midwest, in the central South region, and the Mountain West. In all of these areas, ratings have risen above 3. In many other areas, however, ratings have dipped below 3.

Demand for Pharmacists

However, figures in the PDI also show that there are still some areas where demand is outstripping supply, and trends in these areas are likely to continue. One such area is the job of the pharmacy manager. A study conducted in 2013 showed that the need for pharmacy managers was four times greater than the need for pharmacists. Moreover, almost three-fourths of all managers were expected to retire within ten years of the study, which would only exacerbate the problem.

And that trend has indeed continued. The Pharmacy Demand Indicator (PDI) for December 2018, the last time for which figures are available, showed ratings between 3 and 4 in most areas of the country for pharmacy managers, an indication that demand is somewhat outstripping supply.


The PDI is an indicator of the perceived demand for pharmacists based on employers’ opinions. The rating scale is as follows: 5 = High demand: difficult to fill open positions; 4 = Moderate demand: some difficulty filling open positions; 3 = Demand in balance with supply; 2 = Demand is less than the pharmacist supply available; 1 = Demand is much less than the pharmacist supply available.

Another area that shows perceived demand outstripping supply is specialized pharmacy. These are pharmacists who have advanced or specialized qualifications in different areas, such as MTM, anticoagulation, oncology, and informatics, among others. The overall PDI rating for specialized pharmacists is almost 3.5. The PDI rating for these pharmacists in the western part of the country is a 4.

If your healthcare organization is looking for pharmacists, Rx relief is ready to help you. We are one of the nation’s leading pharmacy placement firms. Rx relief has received Best of Staffing awards from both clients and talent. Find out what Rx relief can do for your organization. Give us a call today.