Still not convinced pharmacy student numbers should be capped

In 2013 I explained in detail why I am in favour of market forces determining the number of students entering the MPharm course (
The Pharmaceutical Journal 2013;291:246
) rather than a cap being applied.

Despite overwhelming correspondence to your journal wanting a cap on student numbers I am still of the same opinion. Fayaz Ahmedali’s well argued letter (2014;294:84) from Canada did nothing to persuade me to change my mind.

Pharmacy employers can opt for quality or price when it comes to choosing pharmacists. Newly registered pharmacists, like new entrants to any profession, should expect a low initial salary until they have proved their worth. This has always been the case in community pharmacy as in most occupations.

As Ahmedali suggested, if successful, employees of multiples can be promoted and can enter the hierarchy of their organisation where the salaries of the senior managers will be high.

I am sure that the trial of Boots’s robotic distribution hub (2014;292:282) will be a success and lead, in a few years’ time, to a completely different model for community pharmacy where our skills and knowledge will be properly utilised and rewarded.

Owners of small groups of independent pharmacies will pay high salaries to the most suitable pharmacists because they want continuity of management for the branch and continuity of care for their patients. There are still about 6,000 independent pharmacies so proprietorship is still a wonderful option.

Ahmedali also said pharmacy graduates can uniquely choose any sector of our marvellous profession if they are not happy in the community.

Additionally, he compared pharmacy with the legal profession. Many law graduates fail to get a training contract and take up other professions successfully. This could equally apply to pharmacy graduates.

I teach final-year students at various schools of pharmacy and can report that they are, without exception, highly motivated and looking forward to the day when they will join our profession.

Barry Shooter

Bushey Heath,



Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 7 February 2015, Vol 294, No 7848;294(7848):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2015.20067716

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