Last week at work, the phone rang, and I picked it up just like a do probably over 100 times per day. This time it wasn't a patient asking for a refill or a doctor's office calling in a script. It was a pharmacy recruiter inquiring about if I or any of the other pharmacists on staff had an interest in a job at a local hospital.
We get these calls at least once per week. I've spoken recruiters plenty of time in the past. Usually, my aim is to get off the phone as quickly as possible so that I could go back to doing my job. For some reason, I actually listened to what he said this time.
He was talking about a clinical pharmacist position at a local hospital. They were looking for a recently graduated PharmD that would round with the medical team and work directly with both the medical staff and patients on the unit floors. It was a decentralized pharmacy, so I wouldn't be spending all day in the hospital basement. He even said there would be plenty of opportunities for teaching. Finally, the salary would be very competitive, ranging into 6-figures, and they would pay for any relocation expenses.
I'm a retail pharmacy guy. I like retail. Maybe it's just because I work in an absolutely great situation. My company gives plenty of staff hours, and my store is in a small, middle class town. We're busy, but it's more than manageable. Plus, I feel like I'm pretty good at my job, and I continue to get better as I get more and more experience.
If it were up to me, I'd stay in retail pharmacy at my current store for the rest of my career. However, I don't have the greatest confidence in the long term outlook of retail pharmacy. With more and more insurance companies mandating mail order and ever decreasing 3rd party reimbursements (made worse by companies giving out $4 prescriptions and free antibiotics), I don't know how long retail pharmacy can support itself.
Yes... There will always be retail pharmacies because patients will always need some place to go and get their antibiotics and pain medications. I just worry that 10 years from now, retail pharmacy won't be as robust of a profession as it is now. I fear that many retail pharmacists will find themselves without a job as companies struggle to turn profits. Look at Rite Aid. It's a pharmacy giant, but it's stock is below 50 cents per share. That's not a good sign for the profession.
Whether this happens or not, I cannot say. I know people have been predicted doom on retail pharmacy for 30 years now, and for the most part, it has just kept chugging along. The one thing I do know is that my window of opportunity for moving into hospital pharmacy is shrinking with every passing year. Three years from now, I will no longer meet the criteria of a recently graduated PharmD, and with no hospital experience at all, there's little chance of me ever getting a hospital job... especially a clinically oriented position.
If I got this hospital job and five years from now decide that I don't like it, I could always go back to retail (if retail still has openings then). However, if I stay in retail now, I think I'll be keeping myself in retail forever. I've already forgotten so much of what I learned in school. I still remember most things in general terms, but a lot of the specifics have escaped my mind. They'll continue to escape my mind the more I don't use them or think of them.
I'm really torn on this... I feel like the right decision to make is to apply for that hospital position, and at the very least, get some experience in hospital pharmacy now before I've become completely entrenched in retail. However, that's not what I really want to do. I don't want to leave my job. I'm good at it. I'm highly respected by my coworkers and customers. I like the hours (I would really struggle to be at the hospital at 7:00 AM five days per week). It's very convenient in that it's 2 miles away from my apartment. Most of all, I like it better than hospital. The environment is just better to me. I found hospitals depressing.
I guess I'm looking for opinions here. What do you retail people think about the long term outlook for retail pharmacy? Are there any hospital pharmacists that jumped into it after working exclusively in retail for a longtime? Was the transition difficult?
I'm not looking for anyone to make my decision for me. I'm just trying to gather a little more information.