Don’t fear the future

A large proportion of pharmacists want to own their own pharmacies, but are worried about how they can do so, an AJP poll reveals

We asked AJP readers whether they would consider owning their own pharmacy – and 19% said they want to, but they’re discouraged by uncertainty in the sector stemming from price disclosure, rents, wages and any ramifications from the King Review.

Another 9% want to become owners, but say they won’t ever be able to afford it.

Worryingly, the most popular response to the poll was “I’m thinking of leaving pharmacy altogether”. This is in line with the results of previous AJP polls which have shown significant concern about the future of the profession.

Pharmacy partner at the multi-award-winning Capital Chemist Wanniassa, Elise Apolloni, told the AJP that there’s nothing wrong with changing careers, but encouraged pharmacists to seek out mentors and make informed decisions.

“In any career that you choose, you may not love it the first time or pick the career that’s right for you, and it’s okay to leave if it’s not what you expect,” she says.

“But if you’re sitting by yourself looking at the pharmacy world and thinking you don’t like what you see, and you don’t have anyone to counteract the voice of that devil sitting on your shoulder, of course the winning view will be the view you’re sitting in.

“But pharmacists are practical people, and making informed choices is important.

“If you’re sitting there listening to that devil, equally, you should listen to the angel on the other shoulder. What are they saying?”

Ms Apolloni suggests that pharmacists who are feeling negative about the future of the profession, or their chances of owning their own pharmacy, could reach out to other pharmacists who can offer a fresh perspective.

“Use the PSA mentoring program, connect online, go on LinkedIn, go to conferences and give yourself the opportunity to become inspired,” she says.

“If you decide the devil side wins and you want to leave altogether, that’s okay too, but give it a good shot first. You invest a lot of blood, sweat and tears into studying pharmacy, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears in serving your community, so make sure you give yourself that balance.”

She says it’s important to remember that pharmacy has faced tough times before.

“As a young pharmacist this is the first time I’ve lived through it, but the people who came before us have had challenges before – not price disclosure specifically, but there have always been things that threatened the viability of pharmacy.

“It’s important to reflect on that and realise it’s okay for there to be uncertainty. Everything’s subject to change, and that’s part of the excitement of our industry, that we’re constantly shifting. If I was doing exactly the same thing as I was five years ago I might not be as interested.”

She encouraged pharmacists who want to be owners but who are feeling nervous about the future to consider how they can harness change to make a difference in their communities.

“There’s always been doom and gloom, but you can choose to look at it as pressure, or as opportunities. I choose to look at it as a chance to innovate, change how we work, try different models, do different services and do other things that I’d never dreamed about when I entered my degree 10 years ago.

“People say they can’t afford it, but if you really want something badly enough, you will find a way to get around it, and there’s lots of amazing work done by groups like Capital Chemist to give people the opportunity to do so.”


The poll results

I’m thinking of leaving pharmacy altogether – 26% (196 responses)

I want to, but am discouraged by uncertainty in the sector – 19% (147 responses)

I already am an owner/partner – 19% (144 responses)

I used to own and won’t do it again – 13% (100 responses)

I want to, but won’t ever be able to afford it – 9% (71 responses)

I’m happy being an employee – 8% (59 responses)

Yes, I plan to own – 7% (51 responses).

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