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What would you advise a student wanting to study pharmacy at University?

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  • What would you advise a student wanting to study pharmacy at University?

    Hi guys,

    Basically came across some posts on 'The student room' and it got me thinking. Thought I'd bring the gist of the conversation here. Lots of students being misinformed by universities about job prospects at the end of the pharmacy degree and then finding it wasn't what they expected.

    And what do you think the state of pharmacy will be like in: 1) 5-10 years 2) 11-20 years

  • #2
    The Times had a pharmacy supplement this week. Mostly a puff for P2U.
    They foresee most repeat scripts dispensed at centres like them. The pharmacist will become first port of call for pts and most would be able to prescribe.
    However, effect on salaries etc not mentioned. Me, I am not advising my grandson to look to pharmacy as a career or even go to uni and accumulate large debt and then find being a Barista touted as a career. Better to take a practical course. My son thinks become an electrician.
    johnep

    Comment


    • Mutley
      Mutley commented
      Editing a comment
      +++1 This would be my option if I were starting out again.

  • #3
    It really depends what people are comparing themselves to and what your motivations are in life - money or stimulation or doing good.

    If people compare themselves to Doctors/vets/dentists/MPs/city of London/school headteacher then they will be disappointed.

    If you see pharmacist as a retail job which community pharmacy sadly really is, then it's fabulous pay for an undergraduate degree, albeit not a rewarding and stimulating job with good conditions .

    The median graduate salary (all ages) earns £34k. Average postgrad (all ages) earns £40k. Average pharmacist £42k.

    In 5-10 year's time, a lot of pharmacies that remain will be on a low number of hours.

    In 10-20 years time a pharmacy will be a pharmacist, a part time member of staff and robots. Many will have closed.

    Comment


    • Mutley
      Mutley commented
      Editing a comment
      Recently heard post vacant for manager of Pets'R'Us @ #34,000 p.a.

      Is the extra £2k (i.e. 5%) ever worth it?

  • #4
    A friend of ours went into business after National Service where the army taught him electronics. He was at the start of the the TV boom. He became interested in politics and became a local councillor. Eventually ended up as an MP.
    His father had helped him get started and then covered the shop when our friend attended meetings and when in Parliament. This could not happen in pharmacy. One reason I did not go into retail was the fear of being ill and unable to find a locum. I had several holiday cover requests when husbands unable to go with their families because of no locum available. A friend still went in when had flu and collapsed. No worries in industry.
    Knowing what I do now, I should have used locums to provide an income while perhaps renovating an old property. Most millionaires in the press seem to be property developers. Our small three bed bungalow costing £2,500 has resulted in being able to draw some £200,000 as we downsized twice in recent years.
    So many couples in the TV prog "A place in the sun" are second marriages meaning one property sold to enable purchase of a holiday home. In the mean time pharmacy pay will not allow purchase of an average house in the home counties.
    johnep

    Comment


    • #5
      Pharmacy used to provide a middle class salary and some of those who were in the role before 2000 made a decent salary all whilst there was more demand and lower number of pharmacy schools. I think now there’s around 34 pharmacy schools.... all of them promising a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
      I definitely would not recommend pharmacy as a career unless you really have a passion for it. Community is dead. We don’t know much about what will happen with GP practice pharmacists after the 3yr pilot finishes. Around my area theres going to be a CCG restructure so some of the pharmacists within the CCG don’t know what it will mean for them. Hospital is a long slog but I hear theres a lot more job satisfaction.

      I don’t know. 5-10 years, there will be more closures in community. Loads of pharmacists will probably try to get into GP surgery, bringing the wages down.

      If I was to have my time again... I’d probably do something practical or go into medicine/dentistry.


      Comment


      • #6
        I would say studying pharmacy is a huge mistake not just because the community side of the job is dying but the degree itself. All though, the Schools call it a Masters Degree in pure academic term it's not really viewed as a Masters degree. The only problem with that classification is that if you wanted to apply for a postgraduate loan to do a Masters degree such as MBA you are not eligible because according to Student finance you have already done a Masters degree.

        Unfortunately, the pharmacy degree has diminished thanks to the rise of the quasi healthcare element aspect of the course. In the past, it was a pure science degree which focused on drug development, formulation, pharmacokinetics and Pharmacognosy. Therefore this background gave you a massive edge over other science students if you wanted to enter the industry. Also as a three-year degree, it meant you could go for that Masters and have funding in place.

        Therefore my advice to any sensible person is to look at doing another degree because Pharmacy is not in the same place as 2006 when I started my degree. What you will end up with is a huge debt, non-transferable skills and stuck in a dead end job.

        All those GP practice jobs people talk about is another disaster waiting to happen. The NHS is collapsing and using the allied profession to solve the GP crisis is a huge blunder. Pharmacist played a vital role in the past but thanks to the short-sightedness of the profession for not restricting ownership of more than three pharmacies led to the rise of the multiples and its eventual demise. The idea that pharmacists can take over the role of a GP is foolish in my opinion for many reasons which I don't wish to bore anyone.

        Comment


        • #7
          Originally posted by jzd4rma View Post
          I would say studying pharmacy is a huge mistake not just because the community side of the job is dying but the degree itself. All though, the Schools call it a Masters Degree in pure academic term it's not really viewed as a Masters degree. The only problem with that classification is that if you wanted to apply for a postgraduate loan to do a Masters degree such as MBA you are not eligible because according to Student finance you have already done a Masters degree.

          Unfortunately, the pharmacy degree has diminished thanks to the rise of the quasi healthcare element aspect of the course. In the past, it was a pure science degree which focused on drug development, formulation, pharmacokinetics and Pharmacognosy. Therefore this background gave you a massive edge over other science students if you wanted to enter the industry. Also as a three-year degree, it meant you could go for that Masters and have funding in place.

          Therefore my advice to any sensible person is to look at doing another degree because Pharmacy is not in the same place as 2006 when I started my degree. What you will end up with is a huge debt, non-transferable skills and stuck in a dead end job.

          All those GP practice jobs people talk about is another disaster waiting to happen. The NHS is collapsing and using the allied profession to solve the GP crisis is a huge blunder. Pharmacist played a vital role in the past but thanks to the short-sightedness of the profession for not restricting ownership of more than three pharmacies led to the rise of the multiples and its eventual demise. The idea that pharmacists can take over the role of a GP is foolish in my opinion for many reasons which I don't wish to bore anyone.
          +++1

          Comment


          • #8
            Absolutely. The ruling by the PSGB that a widow could run a pharmacy using a manager was meant to be a kindness.
            It was poorly worded and Jesse Boot was able to use it to allow multiples to start.
            The law of unintended consequences rules supreme.
            johnep

            Comment


            • #9
              Originally posted by johnep View Post
              Absolutely. The ruling by the PSGB that a widow could run a pharmacy using a manager was meant to be a kindness.
              It was poorly worded and Jesse Boot was able to use it to allow multiples to start.
              The law of unintended consequences rules supreme.
              johnep
              Hi Johnep,

              Have a read of this article:

              https://www.nottinghampost.com/news/...rbalist-182280

              I don't think the original Boots was such a malevolent force in fact from my understanding until 1980s anyone could open up a pharmacy. In its original form Boots was the modern day equivalent of Holland & Barrets and to the credit of Jesse Boots he actually recruited trained chemists to run his shops. This is a completely opposite to what management are trying to do. Other things people fail to realise is that Boots made its own medication and herbal preperation on an industrial scale which probably helped to standardise the process and offer products at affordable price at a time when no NHS existed and people were really struggling to get by. Therefore my jibe isn't really aimed at Boots of that era Boots did provide valuable service to its community just like Marks & Spencer did with clothes and TESCO with foods.

              My main issue is when control of entry took place in the 80s. This helped prevent new pharmacies springing up to make it sustainble for existing pharmacy therefore I can't understand why the society didn't lobby for restricted ownership? They could have also hiked membership fees for the owner so that the society could actually invest in the workforce to monitor the standard? Instead they helped create an artifical monopoly and only a small group of people profited from this.

              Comment


              • #10
                Good morning jzd4rma. Yes, until the 1980's anyone could open, provided that there was a pharmacist in personal control of the pharmacy. It meant that one could have a pharmacist with one share in a limited company, provided they were designated Superintendent, and 99 shares held by others. The 'widows' provision in, again IIRC, the 1865 Act was, as Johnep writes, meant to be a kindness, and I'm sure that whoever drafted the relevant part of the Act didn't mean what the law subsequently said it meant!
                I was involved in the pharmacy politics of the 80's and as I recall the perceived problem was that young pharmacists were finding large, or at least busy, surgeries and opening as close to them as possible, between the surgeries and existing pharmacies. Practice was known as 'leapfrogging'. By then for many, many pharmacies, the vast majority of their turnover was dispensing, something which hadn't been the case until the advent of the NHS so leapfroggers were wrecking the incomes of established pharmacies and consequently the pensions of their owners. Those young pharmacists were often supported by wholesaler loans; the four or five big wholesalers were competing hard for market share.

                Why didn't the Society, (etc) press for restricted ownership? The answer is that many of us did, and the Society was supportive, but the Conservative government of the day was against 'restrictions on trade', and further PSNC was, as an organisation, if not opposed to the idea, lukewarm at best, although it's then Chief Exec, Alan Smith was personally in favour and worked hard to try to encourage the idea. The CCA was, of course, completely opposed.
                One Department of Health action was, as I recall, especially significant. Alan put forward a scheme where two pharmacists could form a partnership and both hold contracts in the same premises, the idea being that older pharmacists could take younger into partnership. This was completely unacceptable to the Government and thus the only way a young pharmacist could run their own pharmacy was by leap-frogging.

                Over the years it seems to me there have been several 'unintended consequences actions' by the profession. As Johnep says, the "widows provision' was the first. The second was immediately post WWI, when any ex-serviceman who could 'reasonably' claim tto have been studying to become a pharmacist prewar could get onto the qualifying course..... not sure how the practical training worked ..... but it meant that there was a proliferation of small one-man bands, and the availability of qualified labour meant that the chains, such as Boots could expand. Then when the NHS was set up there was no 'quality control' on the service provided, other than occasional visits by NHS employees with 'test prescriptions'. That pharmacies were separate from GP practices was a mistake too, although I'm not sure how, in the circumstances which existed then anything other than the situation we see now could have existed. Then, as you rightly say, the failure to introduce control of entry in the 80's.

                Comment


                • #11
                  Originally posted by Merlyn View Post
                  Good morning jzd4rma. Yes, until the 1980's anyone could open, provided that there was a pharmacist in personal control of the pharmacy. It meant that one could have a pharmacist with one share in a limited company, provided they were designated Superintendent, and 99 shares held by others. The 'widows' provision in, again IIRC, the 1865 Act was, as Johnep writes, meant to be a kindness, and I'm sure that whoever drafted the relevant part of the Act didn't mean what the law subsequently said it meant!
                  I was involved in the pharmacy politics of the 80's and as I recall the perceived problem was that young pharmacists were finding large, or at least busy, surgeries and opening as close to them as possible, between the surgeries and existing pharmacies. Practice was known as 'leapfrogging'. By then for many, many pharmacies, the vast majority of their turnover was dispensing, something which hadn't been the case until the advent of the NHS so leapfroggers were wrecking the incomes of established pharmacies and consequently the pensions of their owners. Those young pharmacists were often supported by wholesaler loans; the four or five big wholesalers were competing hard for market share.

                  Why didn't the Society, (etc) press for restricted ownership? The answer is that many of us did, and the Society was supportive, but the Conservative government of the day was against 'restrictions on trade', and further PSNC was, as an organisation, if not opposed to the idea, lukewarm at best, although it's then Chief Exec, Alan Smith was personally in favour and worked hard to try to encourage the idea. The CCA was, of course, completely opposed.
                  One Department of Health action was, as I recall, especially significant. Alan put forward a scheme where two pharmacists could form a partnership and both hold contracts in the same premises, the idea being that older pharmacists could take younger into partnership. This was completely unacceptable to the Government and thus the only way a young pharmacist could run their own pharmacy was by leap-frogging.

                  Over the years it seems to me there have been several 'unintended consequences actions' by the profession. As Johnep says, the "widows provision' was the first. The second was immediately post WWI, when any ex-serviceman who could 'reasonably' claim tto have been studying to become a pharmacist prewar could get onto the qualifying course..... not sure how the practical training worked ..... but it meant that there was a proliferation of small one-man bands, and the availability of qualified labour meant that the chains, such as Boots could expand. Then when the NHS was set up there was no 'quality control' on the service provided, other than occasional visits by NHS employees with 'test prescriptions'. That pharmacies were separate from GP practices was a mistake too, although I'm not sure how, in the circumstances which existed then anything other than the situation we see now could have existed. Then, as you rightly say, the failure to introduce control of entry in the 80's.
                  Hi Merlyn,

                  Thats really interesting to know some of the stuff you mentioned I had no idea. In light of all this information to me it seems there was a systematic failure. This was built in sequential steps and a disaster of a titanic propotion was set on course a while ago.

                  I think it was a disaster from 2006 on wards with the new contract but the multiples were able to deflect it because due to rise in work force cost of operating the pharmacy went down. Unforunately this route has been exahusted I am in the process of developing other skills but I used to locum full time these days they regularly call me up and offer £40 per hour and I on almost all occasion turn it down my health is more important for me.

                  Part of the reason why I feel community pharmacy is unviable as a long term career is because reimbursement doesn't reflect the work involved which makes it hard to generate profit. Unfortunately the market is highly consolidated owned by corporate fools which makes it easy for government to negotiate contracts as management pass off cuts to the branch itself which makes it impossible to work in such situation.

                  The remaining independent pharmacies are overpriced and as the sector appears to have very bleak prospects its not worth buying a pharmacy.

                  The OP was asking what will happen in the future? That is hard to predict but based on current trajectory community pharmacy as it was is extinct:
                  1. Community Pharmacy - does not make extemporaneous preparation therefore lost its main bargaining ground.
                  2. Community Pharmacy in UK do not hold a monopoly on over counter medicine sale unlike many other countries in Europe this contributes to the coffers of continental pharmacy significantly.
                  3. Community Pharmacy is owned by large operators, therefore, the incentive to innovate and provide services tailored to the local market has gone because of no incentive for the pharmacist. In the past Mr Smith the owner of a pharmacy in a local suburb might notice that a significant percentage of children of his patients have food allergies. This might encourage him to run food allergie testing and advice service. The incentive for Mr Smith is he gets to increase his income. However in a mutliple dominated model why would Mr Smith now an overstressed and underpaid Pharmacy Manager do such thing?
                  4. Internet - provides a plethora of advice and information and some of it is actually more accurate and reliable then what you can get out of pharmacist because the quality of a pharmacist has dropped IMHO.
                  Based on all these variables you can see why everyone is trying to become a prescribing pharmacist but even that is not a good option. To describe it crudely imagine NHS and GP are in a long term relationship and this has broken down. Well the NHS is now in a rebound phase and GP Pharmacists are the rebound object. I wish things were like they used to be because pharmacists played a very important role.

                  If people doubt it look at Eli Lilly, Vicks, Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Merck (the German company) all by pharmacists how did we become a shadow of ourselves as a profession?

                  Comment


                  • #12
                    As a pharmacist couple we were asked by a relative if their daughter should go on to be a pharmacist.
                    The course was about to go to 4 years from BSc/BPharm to MPharm.
                    We both discussed it and where the profession was going, and suggested Veterinary, Medicine, Dentistry or Ophthalmic Optics.
                    Optics was chosen she is now developing a career in this area, covering a chain as an Optom Locum.

                    We all know where we are at the moment and where the profession is going to go does not take us into a nice place.

                    Any student with scientific leanings would to well to ignore the glossy prospectus and look elsewhere.

                    If you are tempted to go on to the student room and try to show the reality of the everyday work you will be shouted down and flamed.
                    So generally don't waste your energy there.


                    47 BC : Julius Cesar : Veni Vidi Vici : I came, I saw I conquered.
                    2018 AD : Modern Man : I shopped, I clicked, I collected.
                    How times change.

                    If you find you have read something that has upset or offended you an anyway please unread it at once.

                    Comment


                    • StraightOuttaDispensary
                      Editing a comment
                      In all fairness, I went onto the student room and there's a few groups open about 'Pharmacy career prospects' and no-one has tried to sugar-coat anything. You'll always get 1-2 people who won't believe you or think you're deliberately trying to sabotage but on the whole there is a few people on there speaking honestly and truthfully.
                      It took me a while to read through the posts on particular group titled 'Poor pharmacist job prospects' but I could completely relate to all of the OP's points. He was a pharmacist who graduated around the same time as me and realised that everything he was told at Uni and Open days was bull****. One of the reasons I wanted to get the opinion of you good folks!

                  • #13
                    I agree with all this. Memories of a "glorious past" seem to taint present day. The Govnmt deludes itself that it is a world power and dispenses aid to all and sundry without much demonstrable benefit. Like wise the general public remember that pharmacists lived well and think this continues. There used to be a story of the proprietor driving past a bus stop after a meeting and seeing a manager waiting for a bus, meanwhile the hospital pharmacist was walking to save the bus fare. For my locum in hospital, I received £15 for the week. The hospital secretary said I was grossly overpaid.
                    johnep

                    Comment


                    • #14
                      When the Essex LPC was established in 1911 or so, the Secretary was paid £200 per year, as that would enable him (of course!) to have someone else permanently in his business. When the chap retired in 137 or so (IIRC) his successor was paid the same. When I took the job on a 2-3 day/week basis in the 80's the salary was considerably more, and I gather it's a lot higher still now.

                      Comment


                      • #15
                        Originally posted by johnep View Post
                        I agree with all this. Memories of a "glorious past" seem to taint present day. The Govnmt deludes itself that it is a world power and dispenses aid to all and sundry without much demonstrable benefit. Like wise the general public remember that pharmacists lived well and think this continues. There used to be a story of the proprietor driving past a bus stop after a meeting and seeing a manager waiting for a bus, meanwhile the hospital pharmacist was walking to save the bus fare. For my locum in hospital, I received £15 for the week. The hospital secretary said I was grossly overpaid.
                        johnep
                        People all ways distort facts to what they deem as acceptable and that indicates that most people have made up their mind but just looking to facts to justify their action. Rather than use the facts to make an objective decision.

                        I guess this harks back to how our cognition developed on an evolutionary basis. The human intelligence is a recent development and prior to that animal behavior was driven by instinct and I guess many of us still rely on instincts rather than reason. For this reason when people are given facts on whether not to do Pharmacy, Vote for Brexit, Trump and etc they prefer following their instincts which merely follows previous patterns rather than trying to make a decision by anticipating other variables.

                        The downside of this approach is that only a few people are able to identify an opportunity before the rest of us has become aware and are able to corner the market because they make decisions based on evaluating variables not assuming the previous pattern will continue. This process is applicable from anything to business, engineering, science and competitive sports!

                        PS sorry for the ramble thats my daily quota of phillosophy!

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