After becoming qualified and working as a locum community pharmacist for over a year, I am already disillusioned by what the future of pharmacy will be. I agree with Adnan Baig’s letter (
The Pharmaceutical Journal 2014:293:524) regarding how an uncontrolled, competitive market will undermine the profession. Throughout my studies I have worked hard with the hope of becoming a respected healthcare professional with an exciting career progression ahead.
However, early on in pre-registration training my cohort realised that most of us would not be offered a full-time job after we complete our training. In addition, as a locum pharmacist, I have already been asked on a number of occasions “how low I am prepared to go” [in terms of hourly rate]. I have also struggled to get bookings because the market is saturated.
I believe nowadays the main criteria for locums to be booked is whether they are prepared to work for the lowest rate on offer and whether they are willing to conduct as many medicines use reviews as possible. Of course, retail chains are going to welcome this competition for the “best” pharmacists, but this definition of “best” is certainly not what I wanted to be as a healthcare professional.
It is demoralising to have to battle for work. It is unbelievable that a decision has been made not to cap pharmacy student numbers (2014;293:412) while, on the other hand, at a recent open day for dentistry I found out that student numbers are not only capped but have actually been decreased for next year. I feel sorry for the current lot of pharmacy students who will be paying £9,000 a year in tuition fees for a course in a healthcare profession where a job may not even be attainable. Even if it is, what will the working conditions be like for them? It is bad enough as it is.
All these new exciting “roles” for community pharmacists gave me hope, but sadly nothing has materialised so far and if we cannot get our voice across regarding student number caps, how are we to represent ourselves successfully for these “roles” that do not yet exist?