PharmacyThisWeek: Guest post from Ryan Schell, PharmD Re the Pharmacist Job Crisis (Update)

July 19, 2018



Welcome to PharmacyThisWeek!

The following is a guest post by Ryan Schell, PharmD regarding the Pharmacist Job Crisis. Dr. Schell is an Emergency Medicine Clinical Pharmacist, Mount Carmel West Hospital, Columbus, OH. You can see Dr. Schell’s previous guest post here.


If you have read the previous posts written regarding the potential for a pharmacist job crisis, you may remember that a prediction was made based primarily on data obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). To quickly summarize previous findings, the analysis started with the current estimated number of pharmacists and the current estimated number of open jobs, then factored in the rate that the United States graduates new pharmacists and compared it to the rate of new job creation combined with the rate of current pharmacists leaving practice. This analysis lead to the conclusion that we currently graduate between 4,000 and 5,000 more pharmacists than we create jobs for, and the US could reach a tipping point somewhere between 2020 and 2023 where the number of licensed pharmacists will be greater than the number of jobs for pharmacists, assuming the current trends are maintained.

Several days ago, I came across an interesting analysis posted on that looked at the pharmacist supply from a different angle.1 In this analysis, the author compared the number of pharmacists to the total population of the United States using the same BLS data and other historical data on the total number of US pharmacists as well as public census data for the total US population for the past 15 years. He used a regression analysis to fit a line to the historical pharmacist data (a line that fit very well with a p-value of <0.001) and then extrapolated it out for another 10 years to show predicted growth until 2028. The author then compared the prediction to the predicted population of the USA, providing both an accurate picture of historical growth and a predictive component. What can be said for certain is that in the past 15 years, the number of pharmacists in the US per 1000 population has grown from 0.74 in 2003 to 0.94 in 2017. The predictive regression has it passing 1 pharmacist per 1000 population between 2020 and 2021 and continuing to grow, assuming no major changes to the growth rate of either variable.

The author attaches significance to the 1 per 1000 population ratio, stating that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends at least 1 pharmacist per 1000 population and citing a page on the WHO website. I also couldn’t help but notice it falls within the previously predicted period a jobs crisis could come to fruition. After visiting this site and digging a little further into the WHO and Global Health Observatory (GHO) data, I can’t find an unequivocal statement that this is a recommendation. The statement on the web page cited on is “About 85% of WHO Member States report to have less than 1 pharmaceutical personnel per 1000 population”.2 This statement appears to me to be more of a statement of fact as I don’t see it clearly stated anywhere on this page that it is a recommendation. I also searched the WHO’s “Developing Pharmacy Practice” handbook and could not find a pharmacist per population recommendation either, so I can’t be certain about how significant that ratio is3. The fact that the WHO issued a statement with that ratio could be considered evidence that they do in fact attach some importance to this ratio, I just have not found a source with the importance explicitly stated.

The second thing I will point out is the use of the term “pharmaceutical personnel”, not pharmacist. According to the WHO, the definition of “Density of pharmaceutical personnel” is the number of pharmacists, pharmaceutical, technicians/assistants and related occupation personnel per 1000 population.4 If this is a ratio recommended by the WHO, it appears the WHO may be including technicians in it as well.

I decided to look at the aggregated data from the WHO for myself to see if I could make any additional sense of the definitions and to see how it stacks up against the numbers used in the regression. The latest figure reported for the United States is 0.887 Pharmaceutical Personnel per 1000 population in 20105, a number that is larger than the value in the article’s regression analysis which was 0.867. This difference certainly can’t be attributed to the inclusion of all pharmacy personnel as the BLS reported over 381,000 pharmacy technicians and aides employed in 20086. When we combine that number with the 266,410 pharmacists in 2008 and divided by the 304,100,000 total population that same year, gives us a ratio of 2.129 “Pharmacy Personnel” per 1000 population for the year 2008, far greater than the reported 0.887 in 2010. A possible explanation for the difference between the article and the WHO reported data is that the US reported all licensed pharmacy personnel to the WHO, including licensed technicians. Remember in 2010, pharmacy technician certification and licensure were only in its infancy stages, and perhaps only the small number of technicians holding some certification at the time were reported to the WHO for the purposes of the survey. These few certified technicians added to the pharmacists could explain the discrepancy between the figure in the analysis and the figure reported to the WHO, as the article examined only the ratio of pharmacists.

Since I have no idea what and how much importance should be placed on the 1 to 1000 ratio, I am choosing to disregard it and instead, focus only on the numbers and what they may mean for registered pharmacists in the US. In my opinion, the value of this analysis is that it really does a good job of showing that the growth rate of pharmacists has been exceeding the overall population growth rate. The regression demonstrates a consistent trend which I believe has predictive value and indicates that for the near future, a continuation of the increase in pharmacist to population ratio is likely, barring and change in the status quo. Taken in context with the graduation rate significantly outpacing the combination of job creation and job opening rates, I do believe this analysis certainly can be viewed as more evidence of a looming pharmacist oversupply.



We update the following employer’s openings each week so be sure and check out their latest available positions. Unless otherwise noted these employers have openings in multiple states so be sure and search on the state and/or job title you are most interested in. If you have any questions just let me know.

Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs (ACMA)
AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Acer Innovation
All Children’s Hospital
Baptist Hospital of South Florida
Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD)
Boston Medical Center
Cameron and Company, Inc.
CareerStaff Rx
Central Admixture Pharmacy Services
Comprehensive Pharmacy Services (CPS)
Confluence Health
Cookeville Regional Medical Center
Cox Health
CVS Health
Diplomat Pharmacy
Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems (EMHS)
Express Scripts
Froedtert Health
Genoa Healthcare
Greenville Health System
Intermountain Healthcare (UT and SE ID)
Jackson Pharmacy Professionals
JFK Medical Center
Johns Hopkins Home Care Group
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Kelsey-Seybold Clinic
Lahey Health
Lee Health
Marshfield Clinic Health System
Memorial Healthcare System
Mission Health
Navitus Health Solutions
OnePoint Patient Care
Pharmacist Moms Group
Pharmacy Systems, Inc.
Pharmapreneur Academy
PHI Pharmacy
ProHealth Care
Providence Health & Services
RPh Professional Search
Rx relief
Samaritan Health Services
Sentara (SE VA and NE NC)
Skagit Regional Health
Soleo Health
Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System
The Happy PharmD Summit
The Investing Tutor
UC Davis Health
UCLA Health
University of Utah
Veterans Administration

I hope everyone has a great week! You can always reach me at my email or cell number below, thanks!!

Kevin Mero
cell: 210 872-6160

P.S. As of today we have 21,000+ Pharmacy jobs at! We now have more pharmacy jobs than LinkedIn, Indeed, and Google COMBINED!!


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