High Demand Casts Favorable Outlook for Pharmacy Grads
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High Demand Casts Favorable Outlook for Pharmacy Grads

March 3, 2022

PCOM School of Pharmacy students take notes during classThe COVID-19 pandemic has positioned pharmacists front and center in the public eye - for point of care testing, immunizations and access to care, among other healthcare services. As a result, pharmacists are in high demand, especially in primary care and public health roles with some positions commanding significant signing bonuses.

Shawn Spencer, PhD, RPh, dean and chief academic officer of the PCOM School of Pharmacy, posed the question, “Is the expanding scope of pharmacy careers contributing to a rise in job opportunities for pharmacy graduates, especially in the South?”

According to the Pharmacy Workforce Center’s Inc. Pharmacy Demand Report (PDR), provided by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, job postings for pharmacists nationally have increased 18% in 2021 compared to the previous year. The highest number of job postings in 2021 were in the South, with a 22.8% increase last year. The sector with the largest increase in positions was community pharmacists with the Midwest region seeing a 51% increase in job postings. Further, the South and Midwest led the nation with director of pharmacy position postings in 2021 with a 42.8% and 43.2% increase respectively. PDR data shows that the Atlanta metro area alone has seen a 25.3% increase in community pharmacy job postings in 2021.

Importantly, however, data indicates that the South led other parts of the country for non-traditional pharmacy jobs (other than community, hospital and clinical practice) with a 50.3% increase in job postings for occupations such as compounding pharmacist, informatics pharmacist, infusion pharmacist, long-term care pharmacist, nuclear pharmacist and oncology pharmacist.

Dr. Spencer said, “We are, of course, pleased to see a relatively strong market for pharmacists in the South.” In fact, he noted, “the number of on-campus interview requests by employers seeking pharmacists in the PCOM Class of 2022 appears to be returning after a multi-year hiatus.”

Samuel John, PharmD, BCPS, director of the PCOM School of Pharmacy residency program, provided some residency statistics. He noted that PCOM fourth-year pharmacy students are receiving more interviews than ever before for the PCOM School of Pharmacy’s American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) accredited pharmacy practice residency program in partnership with WellStar North Fulton.

Infographic of a medical student placed in front of the state of Georgia and showing statistics about careers in pharmacy

Key findings by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics

National Association of Boards of Pharmacy statistics indicate that Georgia is fifth in the nation in terms of a pharmacist shortage, with 141 licensed pharmacists per 100,000 residents compared to the national average of 192 pharmacists per 100,000 residents. Stated differently, Georgia only has one state-licensed pharmacist for every 710 residents compared to the national average of one per every 546 residents.

With the eighth largest population in the United States, Georgia has a lower pharmacist per resident ratio than 45 out of 50 states.

Dr. Spencer said, “We will need more pharmacy school applicants in Georgia if we’re going to be closer to the national average in terms of licensed pharmacists in the workforce.”

According to an article in Drug Store News, as of February 2022, job postings with sign-on bonuses as high as $50,000 have been offered in order to help address the pharmacist shortage.

Michael Lee, PhD, assistant dean for professional and student affairs at the PCOM School of Pharmacy said, “This combined data suggests that there is a return to a tremendous demand for pharmacists.”

He noted that an enrollment decline for schools and colleges of pharmacy across the nation over the last several years may ultimately create additional opportunities for those interested in the profession.  Dr. Lee added, “we’re hoping this means the current strength in jobs will continue for the foreseeable future.“

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  • About PCOM Georgia

    Established in 2005, PCOM Georgia is a private, not-for-profit, accredited institute of higher education dedicated to the healthcare professions. The Suwanee, Georgia, campus is affiliated with Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, a premier osteopathic medical school with a storied history. PCOM Georgia offers doctoral degrees in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, and physical therapy and graduate degrees in biomedical sciences, medical laboratory science, and physician assistant studies. Emphasizing "a whole person approach to care," PCOM Georgia focuses on educational excellence, interprofessional education and service to the wider community. For more information, visit pcom.edu/georgia or call 678-225-7500. The campus is also home to the Georgia Osteopathic Care Center, an osteopathic manipulative medicine clinic, which is open to the public by appointment. For more information, visit pcomgeorgiahealth.org.

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