Friday, September 17, 2010

Is Retail pharmacist career a bad choice?

Here's an interesting read I chance upon while blog surfing - why-retail-pharmacist-is-a-bad-career-choice

This article has, in essence, highlighted some of the cons with regards to working in a retail pharmacy (although part of it is only applicable to Egypt eg. the pre-packed medicines). As the title implies, it is a piece of rather one-sided argument. Scroll to the bottom to read about my 2 cents worth on retail pharmacist in Singapore.

I highlighted some comments from the above-mentioned article here... No time to finish browsing all as some are quite frivolous but I particular like comment highlight #1 which gave good insights on how to survive Retail. =)

Commenter highlight #1:

Retail pharmacy is great! I am 35 & have been working as a retail pharmacist for 12 years. Because I invested most of my money early in my 'career', I was able to work part-time beginning 2 years ago.

Part-time work makes all the things in life you would like to a reality.

I am the father of 3 children &, thanks to retail pharmacy, I am able to spend so much time with them & to get to know them very well.

You help many people, you have specialized training & knowledge that no other profession has else has. The public can be very rude, demanding, & insulting, just keep your ego in check & you'll enjoy your work.

In order to enjoy work, tell every person that comes to the pharmacy it will take over an hour. If they complain for a legitimate reason, fill their prescription sooner. Always eat when you are hungry, no matter what.

Always use the bathroom whenever you need to. Retail pharmacy is not emergent care.

Whenever possible, sit down. Pharmacists who don't sit are the ones who develop the worst back, leg, & knee problems. I just finished 1st place at the local 5k race, because I take care of my physical health. You will not be doing anyone a favor, if you don't take care of yourself.

Happiness in Retail pharmacy is very simple to achieve!

Rule #1) Don't try to be a fast food pharmacist-you'll just end up killing a person, usu. elderly or child. Besides, it demeans & degrades our profession.

Rule #2)If you start feeling stressed, tell every new customer that walks up to the pharmacy it will be AT LEAST a 2 hour wait. The public is ignorant. Don't expect them to understand what is in their own best self-interest (& yours) This tactic works wonderfully for me in my retail experience. 90% of customers are just fine about coming back. 5% are truly critical prescriptions & so go ahead & fix those ASAP. 5% will go the the fast food pharmacist down the road who is digging themselves & some unlucky customer an early grave. So let that 5% go, your focus & sanity is well worth it!

Rule #3) Don't focus on what the customers think. Most are a bunch of spoiled brats anyway. Congratulate yourself & tune out all of the jerks.

Rule #4) Never let someone rush you. If you feel rushed, tell them to go get the medicine somewhere else. Haste makes waste, in our case Haste causes Death. Would you want your airplane pilot to rush? Or How would you like your heart surgeon to rush? Our job is just as critical & never let someone tell you otherwise. I prefer to polite ignore them.

Commenter highlight #2:

As a naive school graduate in Australia, I chose pharmacy because I believed it paid 100k/year as a pharmacist and 200-300k as a pharmacy business owner while granting opportunity to interact with appreciative people. (my parents were the ones that told me these figures - but they had obviously been basing it on American standards of pay)

In Australia retail pharmacy pays an average of AUD$70,000 a year for a 38 hour week. (hourly pay rate varies between $28 - 40/hour)

The return on investment of pharmacy business is about 10%. ie. a business that makes a profit of 200k will cost you $2,000,000 (most of the cost is due to goodwill and scarcity - there is a government limit on the number of pharmacies that can exist in any area and this limit takes into account population density). In comparison the interest paid on a term deposit varies between 3-8% in Australia, while other investments such as shares and property return much higher averages.

Hospital pharmacy pays an average of $40,000-70,000 depending on level of experience.

Pharmacy doesn't pay very well compared to other professions and the pay is even more insulting if you take into account the marks that you need in order to be accepted into this course. Here the course requires a percentile of at least 97% on average as well as marks in medical admissions tests.


Aside from pay, the job involves hours of standing and work pressures are not due to challenging or intellectually stimulating tasks - your stresses come from dealing with unhappy or frustrated customers/patients/other health care professionals.

My suggestion for students who have not yet chosen pharmacy as a profession is to avoid it UNLESS you highly value:
- Flexible hours/Flexible locations
- Standing all day intead as opposed to sitting all day (eg. sitting a desk)
- Quick tasks that are completed in the course of the day as over projects that take place over many days/weeks or longer
- Being rewarded for having a patient and consistent approach to tasks as opposed to a creative approach
- Overcoming a standard level of competency in order to achieve a similar level of pay as other colleagues as opposed to having performance-based pay
- Stress arising from dealing with unhappy/frustrated stakeholders as opposed to stress arising from the difficulty of the tasks at hand
- Interacting with sick clients as opposed to healthy clients (eg. other retail businesses) or paperwork (eg. some office jobs)
- Having a support role in the overall healthcare of a patient rather than being the leader in their healthcare (ie. doctors are the medical managers who draw support from other disciplines such as pharmacy, physiotherapy, radiography etc)
- Health sciences / continuous learning in health sciences (ie. Khalid, the author of the original article doesn't mind continuous learning in IT because it is a field that he is passionate about. As a high school student, can you really say that you like medical drugs? A lot of you can comfortably say you like writing, sport, cars or computers but how many of you can say you actually like medical drugs if you haven't actually worked with them before?)

My 2 cents worth of conclusion~

Current situation

Pharmacists presence is often sought-after for a 'quick solution' to health care problems or for the purchases of minor ailment medicines. The lack of dispensing rights to pharmacists has resulted in patients collecting medications directly from clinics and only referred 'outside' for medicines not kept at the clinics. Separating consultation cost from medication cost in recent years has spurred some price-sensitive customers to turn retail.

Nature of work

Sg Retail pharmacists are generally very Customer service-oriented as Patient Care services are still in the budding phase. Many customers are either oblivious or unwilling to pay for such services eg. medication reviews. Hours are fairly flexible and you can request to work overtime for extra earnings. Product knowledge is important. There are ample opportunities to learn and be exposed to a wide range of health and beauty over-the-counter products. Typical every-day tasks include juggling between retail operations, patient care, sales and adhoc projects.

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1 comment:

  1. In my point of view these retail pharmacy is not a bad career. As many people are going in this business. And they have great scope and future.


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