Pharmacist - Need advice

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sixtyforty
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Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by sixtyforty » Wed Mar 06, 2019 10:47 am

My DW has been a retail pharmacist for over 20+ years. The job has become increasingly stressful due to the large volumes of prescriptions, vaccinations and clinical services they want her to perform, with less help. It seems this career is being more and more driven by profits and she fears for patient safety. Part of the issue, is due to the pharmacist saturation of the market where companies can use this to their advantage.

She has applied to non-pharmacy jobs, but gets rejected. I've told her they see her resume and immediately think she is over qualified or they probably think if they did hire her, she would be out the door at another pharmacy job since the pay is quite a bit more.

At this point, I've told her she doesn't need to work, or need to make much if she does. She feels, at her age of 49, she would like to start a new career but doesn't want to invest a lot of time and money.

Anyone have ideas on other career paths she could pursue given her background ?
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" - Leonardo Da Vinci

surveyor
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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by surveyor » Wed Mar 06, 2019 10:56 am

Drug companies have medical teams that employ physicians and pharmacists.

am
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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by am » Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:01 am

A little off topic, but this is also happening in medicine as corporations takeover and employ physicians. Productivity trumps all in these type of environments. After all, the MD is the liability sponge not the corporation. If MDs want to keep their job in this environment they’ll do more and more for the same pay. This leads to burnout. There is no escape outside medicine or pharmacy that will pay close. We probably have it good in medicine compared to other fields, hate to say it.

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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:03 am

I remember when my sister in law graduated college with her pharmacy degree, she told us about on campus interviews she did for practice with supplement manufacturers and cosmetic companies. Both told her that her job would mainly be to evaluate what's in these products and make sure they wouldn't kill the customer.

I'd suggest she look at another pharmacy where she could work part time. A chain like CVS or Walgreens or Rite Aid would be far better than someplace like Wal Mart. My sis in law moved to take a job at a Wal Mart and it was horrible. Because the pharmacy did not have physical barriers to separate it from the store, a pharmacist had to be there anytime the store was open. As you might expect, scheduling was thin and if someone didn't show up or quit (which happened often), she'd have to stay until someone else showed up or until the store closed at 11pm. She's at a smaller store now and it's far better.
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rayson
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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by rayson » Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:26 am

I could've written the original post. DW has been increasingly frustrated with her retail Pharmacy job due to the same issues. She has applied to jobs at hospitals, drug companies, etc but never received any calls. DW moved away from big retail pharmacy chains and went to a small local pharmacy chain several years ago. She loved the transition to a small pharmacy culture and immensely valued customer relationships. But, they were sold to a big retail chain three years ago and things went downhill fast since then. DW now has to deal with too much pressure and stress from the corporate since they are routinely asked to do more sales with less resources. She has no flexibility for vacation time, work schedule, etc. Overall, it's a decently paid job but it seems like an unsustainable career due to stress and lack of flexibility. Local market for pharmacists is saturated here. They get hundreds of applications for an open "floater" position that is a lot worse due to travel, long commute times and worse scheduling.

With Amazon entering retail pharmacy market, I wonder if there are any work-from-home or remote pharmacist opportunities. But, DW hasn't had any luck finding any job postings from Amazon or other employers for remote workers.

Teague
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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by Teague » Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:30 am

If she doesn't need to work, that opens the door to explore lower paying jobs with potential for increases in salary later.

Would she consider being a pharmaceutical rep? If she's friendly and good with people it might be a good pick. Now, that's pretty much an entry level job, but with her qualifications, she may be able to transition at some point to becoming a medical liaison, given her degree and background. A more interesting job, but may involve substantial travel. There are other opportunities for pharmacists in the drug industry as well. It's a much more civilized environment than retail pharmacy.
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shunkman
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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by shunkman » Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:36 am

I feel for your wife. For years, I was a loyal customer of one of the big three pharmacy chain stores. It was conveniently located about 2 miles from my home and I was on a first name basis with the pharmacist. The pharmacist was always very helpful and friendly and she was the main reason I chose to do business there. However, my overall customer experience steadily declined over the past few years. My prescriptions began to be filled offsite and then shipped to the local pharmacy. Many times they could not find my prescriptions when I arrived for pickup. And the lines for pickup became longer. The corporate bean counters drove away a very good customer. Even though the location is much less convenient, I recently switched to Costco's pharmacy.

Andyrunner
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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by Andyrunner » Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:43 am

My wife is a pharmacist at a hospital. Back when she graduated she did one year of residency, now to get a job most new pharmacists have 2 or 3 years. With a large number of schools being opened in the past 10-15 years the pharmacist market has become fairly saturated.

If she could, maybe if she can do a residency and work in a hospital? Its a much different environment. If anything local hospitals might look for per diem employees willing to pick up shifts.

cmr79
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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by cmr79 » Wed Mar 06, 2019 12:17 pm

I second the opinion about inpatient hospital pharmacy work. I have worked with a number of pharmacists and pharmacy residents in intensive care units, where the pharmacists are integral parts of the medical team and have a much more direct patient care role. Another option that might seem more appealing is working in an outpatient medical clinic, where pharmacists seem to spend a much greater percentage of their time managing anticoagulants, educating patients on medication use including insulin and inhaler training, and supporting medical teams.

I have no idea how available these jobs are and imagine the pay is less than her current position, but given your wife's expressed concern for patients care and safety, these might be opportunities to directly do something about that.

mlipps
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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by mlipps » Wed Mar 06, 2019 12:23 pm

On a totally different note, I work as a data analyst at a healthcare company. We had a team member for a few years who was a pharmacist by training and his clinical knowledge was tremendously valuable. Getting this kind of position might require some proactive networking, but I think it's realistic if it's of interest. Look for titles like healthcare informatics analyst or quality analyst.

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rcjchicity
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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by rcjchicity » Wed Mar 06, 2019 12:54 pm

Props to your DW for making it in retail pharmacy for > 20 years. I spent 1 & 1/2 years at an Osco during pharmacy school and hated every second of it.

For my background: I started as a hospital pharmacist for 5 years after a pharmacy practice residency, but moved into Informatics Pharmacy about 10 years ago, and currently work for the I.T. department of a hospital system doing medication-related EHR build.

As far as switching to hospital pharmacy - the transition from retail to hospital is not a smooth one, since you're dealing with very different approaches to patients (and a lot of IV compounding). Depending on the size of hospitals, and the pharmacist saturation of the markets, she may be looking at starting positions as an overnight pharmacist. So that's something to be aware of.

If she has an interest in I.T., and is open to being a traveling consultant, IT pharmacy may be something to research. When I was getting my certification for the EHR I work with, many of the other trainees were consultants who's background was in retail as a pharmacy tech, and their company was sponsoring their EHR certification. I don't know the competitiveness of getting these types of consultant positions, since I got into I.T. pharmacy a different way.

Otherwise, if she's thinking about ditching pharmacy altogether, does she have any idea what else she would be interested in doing? Books like "What Color is Your Parachute" and "Designing Your Live" would be helpful for her to focus on what she does want to do, rather than not doing retail pharmacy.

dziuniek
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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by dziuniek » Wed Mar 06, 2019 12:58 pm

This is anecdotal but...

Once you chose the career track of working for a retail pharmacy - it can be hard to break into a hospital setting pharmacist job. This is according to my wife, it's what she's seen here in CT. That's not to say it doesn't happen all the time, but it is harder. I would really encourage your wife to use her network to get that first hospital job.

There's things she can do to help. Night shift might not sound appealing, but it's easier to get one of those jobs, or even a per diem/part-time one.

Good luck to your DW in her job search!

PS: Wife was tempted before she was graduating as there were sign-up bonuses of about 30k at retail pharmacies around us when she started college. That was basically an AUDI A4 back then. The sign up bonuses disappeared before she graduated ;)

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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by rxtra8 » Wed Mar 06, 2019 1:03 pm

Retired pharmacist here, now just over two years. Retail pharmacy is the same no matter what unless you are lucky enough to work at a slow store. CVS and those types can be brutal. I initially worked for Thrifty for a few years and that was no fun; you would get the high school educated manager coming over to ask you to dip ice cream as they were short; they would also see your paycheck and would not like you a whole lot. I disliked working for Thrifty so much that I left for architecture school. That worked good until approximately 1990 when a recession took the wind out of my sails and I went back to pharmacy.

I mostly worked for a major HMO with the vast majority of the time in management at the "offsite RX filling facility"...we could do 85,000 RXs per day. I was in charge of the inventory. Much better than retail but not without pressure; employees and upper management. The best positions in the HMO were as mlipps described. Get into the analytical part of pharmacy in drug information, drug utilization or even dealing with the various health management issues that the HMO deals with for its many different plans. Some of these actually get into coding to analyze the drug information. This ivory tower backend stuff is the best; I would have liked to get a position there somehow. But there are not a ton of jobs, it will/may take extra training, and there will be competition for the job. In the inpatient stuff, to actually manage patient care, say for anti-coag, chemotherapy, nuclear, etc. it will take training with many of the RPHs having had internships in the specialty.

But if you are serious, begin to explore these options, talk to these people with these positions and a path may open up. Working for a drug company as a rep may be easy to access but you will travel.

There are better options in retail also, but you will have to search for them. Consider benefits also. I chose the HMO as the best pharmacist employer based on pay, working conditions, health benefits, 401 and a defined benefit pension. After 24 years with the HMO the pension looks good.

Good luck,
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dm200
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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by dm200 » Wed Mar 06, 2019 1:05 pm

Teague wrote:
Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:30 am
Would she consider being a pharmaceutical rep? If she's friendly and good with people it might be a good pick. Now, that's pretty much an entry level job, but with her qualifications, she may be able to transition at some point to becoming a medical liaison, given her degree and background. A more interesting job, but may involve substantial travel. There are other opportunities for pharmacists in the drug industry as well. It's a much more civilized environment than retail pharmacy.
No firsthand knowledge or experience, but a friend of mine's wife (not a pharmacist) is such a rep. These folks can/do earn a LOT, BUT "production" at a high level is required.

RobLyons
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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by RobLyons » Wed Mar 06, 2019 1:12 pm

Does she want to remain in healthcare? There's several careers she could obtain with just an associate's degree with a local community college that she may enjoy. Of course, the pay isn't nearly as high but she could be an RN, CT tech, MRI technologist, Respiratory Therapist, cardiovascular tech, ultrasound, and then dental hygienists; although I think those schools can be much more pricey.

The demand is location dependent but most hospitals are short and have been hiring like mad.

If she is interested feel free to message me for more details.

Otherwise, I agree you need to enjoy what you do, and being rushed and stressed out all the time in such an important field for the sake of profit is not something we need to tolerate.
Best of luck !
Last edited by RobLyons on Wed Mar 06, 2019 1:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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dm200
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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by dm200 » Wed Mar 06, 2019 1:14 pm

I have no idea about this overall - BUT I recently noticed a small, independent Pharmacy in our neighborhood. I dropped in and it seems to be some sort of "niche" where an individual Pharmacist has opened this store and they sell things like nutritional supplements, etc. in addition to "normal" prescription drugs. Seems to be much like the "old days" where an actual Pharmacist owned and ran the Drug Store.

If she were just a few years younger (under 40) - she could consider going to medical school.

A good friend of ours has just retired (she is in her late 60's) from a career as an Ophthalmologist/Eye Surgeon. She had been a Dietitian/Nutritionist, was married (and still is) - then chose to go to medical school in her 30's - and had two children while in her Medical training.

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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by leeks » Wed Mar 06, 2019 1:17 pm

Check for opportunities with a medical marijuana dispensary if they exist or even are just being planned in your area. I have a friend for whom this has been a fantastic career upgrade from retail pharmacy in terms of income, work environment, and rewarding work with patients. In my state at least, these pharmacists consult with each patient to determine dose and format of the medicine, so there is a clinical role not only filling scripts.

My friend was not job hunting, and was not someone with any prior interest in marijuana or experience with medical uses, but saw a news report about a dispensary having a hard time finding licensed pharmacists willing to work for them. Rapid growth/expansion has provided opportunities for advancement and participation in business development.

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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by gmc4h232 » Wed Mar 06, 2019 1:24 pm

Need to tailor resume to the specific job being applied for. If you keep getting told you are overqualified then list less experience on your resume.

MedSaver
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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by MedSaver » Wed Mar 06, 2019 1:29 pm

If she is willing to do 1-2 years of residency, she can go to clinical pharmacy. There are a few sweet gigs to be had like oncology pharm (outpatient with bankers hours) or poison control (low stress). Otherwise inpatient pharmacy isn't terrible and she could work for a hospital system or academics where the pressures are different. The pay will be less than retail however.

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sixtyforty
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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by sixtyforty » Wed Mar 06, 2019 1:35 pm

Thank you so much for all your replies. It is very helpful.
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" - Leonardo Da Vinci

mw1739
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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by mw1739 » Wed Mar 06, 2019 2:23 pm

Are there any pharmacy schools in your area? A friend's wife transitioned from Retail pharmacy to a teaching position. I gather that it's a much less stressful situation.

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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by triggerfish10 » Wed Mar 06, 2019 3:32 pm

In late 2015 I took a job in a hospital pharmacy after having worked at a large retail chain for 6+ years. To show my prospective employer that I was serious about making this career change, I studied for and passed an exam that typically is taken after completing 1 year of residency, called the BCPS (board certified pharmacotherapy specialist) exam. I had not, and still have not, completed a pharmacy residency. My role is minimally clinical (my job consists mostly of medication manufacturing, checking, and distribution for our hospital and associated clinics), but I think it impressed them that I was willing to put in that effort. Perhaps such a maneuver would make her standout when applying for other jobs.
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Andyrunner
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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by Andyrunner » Wed Mar 06, 2019 3:42 pm

triggerfish10 wrote:
Wed Mar 06, 2019 3:32 pm
In late 2015 I took a job in a hospital pharmacy after having worked at a large retail chain for 6+ years. To show my prospective employer that I was serious about making this career change, I studied for and passed an exam that typically is taken after completing 1 year of residency, called the BCPS (board certified pharmacotherapy specialist) exam. I had not, and still have not, completed a pharmacy residency. My role is minimally clinical (my job consists mostly of medication manufacturing, checking, and distribution for our hospital and associated clinics), but I think it impressed them that I was willing to put in that effort. Perhaps such a maneuver would make her standout when applying for other jobs.
My wife took that, I don't think many hospital pharmacists have it. It was a lot of studying but she passed. I remember two terrible parts about that test 1) it was a lot of statistics 2) she had to wait something like 3-4 months to get the results.

Also to the OP, from what I gather, basically what my wife does is monitor levels of drugs in patients and review the doctors prescriptions to make sure if the medicine doesn't conflict with other meds, if the dosing is right, etc. Basically save the docs rear when it comes to ordering meds.

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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by Dottie57 » Wed Mar 06, 2019 3:43 pm

mlipps wrote:
Wed Mar 06, 2019 12:23 pm
On a totally different note, I work as a data analyst at a healthcare company. We had a team member for a few years who was a pharmacist by training and his clinical knowledge was tremendously valuable. Getting this kind of position might require some proactive networking, but I think it's realistic if it's of interest. Look for titles like healthcare informatics analyst or quality analyst.
This. There are also classes in data analysis online (udemy.com, courser) which might be good. Check for sales at udemy.

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dm200
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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by dm200 » Wed Mar 06, 2019 4:45 pm

Don't know - so just wondering if the "contrary" approach might be an opportunity.

I am sure Pharmacists know a lot of bad things and risks in the drug business. Maybe get involved in science based and credible efforts to improve health through "lifestyle" changes and not through the increasing use of more and more pills. Something like this www.nutritionfacts.org

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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by 123 » Wed Mar 06, 2019 4:59 pm

Do you live in a major metropolitan area? Just as their are jobs for "legal nurses" (RNs who review and interpret medical reports for insurance companies and personal injury attorneys) I would assume that might be similar jobs for "legal pharmacists".
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rcjchicity
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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by rcjchicity » Thu Mar 07, 2019 10:44 am

Another thought that might be a closer transition from retail than to inpatient hospital, there are ambulatory care pharmacists, helping patients manage medications such as coumadin, anti-hypertensives, cholesterol meds, anti-diabetic meds, etc. In addition to lots of patient counseling, knowledge of navigating prescription insurance/Medicaid formularies would be a useful skill that would translate from retail.

Again, depending on the area, competitiveness in these positions may necessitate an ambulatory care residency, but it's something else for her to look in to if she's still interested in staying in pharmacy.

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Re: Pharmacist - Need advice

Post by bloom2708 » Thu Mar 07, 2019 11:35 am

A good friend pharmacist works for the FDA. He keeps his credentials by working some weekends at a CVS or similar.

Maybe a career pivot, while staying in a similar industry.
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