Some Pharmacists are now finding it difficult to do something that was relatively easy before, find work. It's important to look at why this is taking place, especially after at least a 3-year period where most employers would go to great lengths to lure a Pharmacist with large sign-on bonuses, relocation packages, and other perks.
To start, the slumping economy has resulted in many retail stores cutting back on hours and support. It's been reported that many patients are now either waiting to fill their prescriptions or not filling them at all to save money. Clearly, less people coming into the pharmacy means less need for staff, so stores that staffed 2 Pharmacists and 4 Techs before are now only using 1 Pharmacist and 2 Techs. Multiply that by 4 for each street corner and you start to see the trickle down of how this affects Pharmacists of all ages and all availabilities. Some are also reducing hours.
As the economy shrinks, whether that's good or bad in the long run, there is also push by many insurance companies to utilize mail order pharmacies which also impacts the need for the local Pharmacist. Insurance companies have seen this time as an excellent opportunity to staff up their fulfillment centers and begin to influence their patients to utilize them.
Overall, the most affected demographic of the community/retail Pharmacist side is the part-time or PRN Pharmacist. Many are having to decide to go back to work full-time, not work at all, or look at another alternative in a non-traditional setting. Many markets, especially metro areas, have been flooded with available Pharmacists looking for work.
The non-retail settings are not immune and have also been affected. Hospitals have cut back on their use of PRN staff, and agency Pharmacists. In some cases, they have decided not to fill positions that were previously open. This is due to the huge increase of uninsured patients that now are coming through the doors, increasing the workload but not overall revenue. Some even have laid off staff (yes, you read that right). Budgets are extremely tight at most facilities and every director has to continually justify adding or replacing staff.
There are some bright spots with hospitals too. Specialty practice areas are starting to slowly expand. Oncology, Pediatrics, Cardiology among others, are expected to add staff over the next few years. Some facilities have opted to reduce the number of Staff Pharmacists needed and hire additional Clinical Specialty Pharmacists. This talent pool however remains small, most candidates are residency trained (sometimes with PGY2 sub-specialty), and/or have extensive experience in the area.
Home health and long term care settings have not been as adversely affected and show modest stability, partially because of their closed-door models which require less overall operating costs. Also, many hospitals and patients are starting to utilize home healthcare as a less expensive option than a hospital stay.
The challenge many Hospital and Retail Pharmacists now face is that their skills are identical to the person next to them, making it difficult to win out in a competitive interview situation. The days of the "generalist" or "traditional" Staff Pharmacist look to be shrinking. Lack of differentiation makes many just another face in the crowd. Pharmacists applications to jobs have nearly doubled in some areas. The important thing for each candidate to realize is that they must figure out how they stand out. Be clear about your accomplishments, past successes, and what additional value you can bring to the organization. Or, find a specialty and pursue that.