Poll: Is there a pharmacy recruitment crisis?

Is there a crisis in community pharmacy staff recruitment and retention? What do you think?

In a column, recently featured in AJP, leading recruitment specialist Sue Muller declared there was a crisis in attracting staff to community pharmacy, even for locum work.

It is increasingly difficult to find pharmacists to fill locum placements, Ms Muller says, declaring the situation “the worst it has ever been”.

“Community Pharmacy is certainly not the flavour of the month as far as graduates are concerned,” Ms Muller said, offering two major explanations:

  1. Graduate pharmacists’ first choice will mostly be hospital pharmacy followed closely by industry roles. “What is the attraction? Money?,” she said.
  2. Pharmacy is commonly used as an undergraduate degree in order to study medicine, dentistry or anything that pays more than pharmacy.

Readers have agreed with Sue in comments on her column.

“Pharmacist locum rates are so low as to be insulting – effectively permanent rates. There are plenty of unskilled roles that pay the same or more without responsibility and without travelling all over the place,” commented reader Michael Post.

“Hospital and Industry bosses don’t expect you to work while sick and other degrees and even trades offer much more career progression and income. I love my job but I’d seriously reconsider if was starting all over again,” said Shannon Mullen.

“Who wants to work somewhere that you can’t get a locum to have a holiday or an unplanned sick day?, said Philip Smith. “Outside of poor wages is poor work life balance in rural communities working 6 days a week. Plenty of health jobs pharmacist can apply for with better pay, work life balance and career progression”.

We want to find out what more of our readers think about this topic, vote in our poll:

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    Rates being offered to locums pretty much unchanged in 10 years, despite award going up over 30% in the same time. Wonder why agencies are having problem finding applicants.

  2. Avishkar Lal

    We have been trying to get a full time/part time pharmacist at our pharmacy for more than 6 months now and still cannot find any. The current pharmacists working are already doing overtime causing a work/life imbalance hence this article is spot on the real crisis out there on community pharmacy.

  3. kitty penfold

    My son is a train driver with no post school qualifications and his hourly rate of pay is almost twice mine.

  4. Raj Khatri

    One of the beefs I had working in pharmacy was not being able to take a day off even when I gave 1-2 weeks notice in advance, especially in smaller establishments.
    There was never anyone to cover you, whether you were sick or had family commitments. Owners also didn’t want locums due to cost.
    Thinking back, for a profession run by mostly women, there is no support in place to allow flexiblility or even a work life balance.
    I know many of my male colleagues left the profession a while ago and now most of my female friends have either stopped working or only work 1 day a week after they had children. I would say poor pay combined with lack of support for mothers in the industry has pushed many of us away. Not to mention the environment you find yourself in when working in big discounter pharmacies.


    I just wouldn’t recommend the profession to anyone anymore. Especially my kids. I speak to many disheartened, unappreciated and over-worked pharmacists. Expectations vs reality are worlds apart in pharmacy. The place the profession is in right now is not good.

  6. Red Pill

    When you have a shortsighted organisation like the Guild lobbying continuously for 2 decades to keep the wages at the bare minimum you end up facing this mass exodus since most other jobs requiring far less skills and training have overtaken the wage of a pharmacist making it unappealing to new graduates and those that have been slugging it out for some time. A simple look at the wages for bus/train drivers, medical receptionists, or even an office administrator highlights the failure of those we call our industry leaders.

  7. Red Pill

    Many have forgotten this poll taken 3 years ago:


    Over a thousand pharmacists said they’re ready to leave and everyone brushed it off.


      Wow, some powerful stuff in there. And it’s so true! When the truth is exposed by those working on the front line and no one listens – amazing.

  8. Jim Tsaoucis

    it’s taken a couple of generations to get us into this mess, I fear it’s a mess we can’t clean up.

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