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Old 06-17-2007, 06:56 AM   #21
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Welcome seasurf - I'm just curious about this profession. Maybe you could fill me in?
Thank you. Iíll be happy to share my thoughts.

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If the pay is good, but the schedules suck - couldn't someone offer to work for a lower wage for better hours?
If you work for the county, state, fed then you could get better hours for lower wages. About 30% less. I would rather work 30% less.

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That kind of statement always makes we wonder if there is a future to this career. At some point, won't businesses be wondering the same thing?
Yes, the operational cost of a pharmacy is high. Staffing is very lean. Some places do not profit much from the prescription sales but they want you to come in and buy their other merchandise ala Target. Or get member premiums ala HMOs. For now the baby boomers and the increasing number of new drugs hitting the market are keeping everyone employed. Also if it wasnít required by law to give an oral consultation for each new prescription or when there's a change in an existing prescription, then we wouldnít need as many pharmacists.

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I'm ignorant about what the job actually involves, but it seems to me much of it can be (should be? Is being?) computerized. Can the job be done by a person with less education, but supplemented with a computer program/database/crosschecks and maybe an actual pharmacist available for consultation (by phone, on-line conference, or one for ten subordinates?)?
The profession used to be focused on the preparation and dispensing of medications. We now have most of those things computerized and automated so our scope of practice has shifted to one that involves more patient care. Like speaking with patients about their medications and illnesses instead of hiding behind the counter. Thus there is a move toward MORE education. Oooo, I would love a one for ten ratio. Iím lucky to get one assistant and one technician.

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So, what is involved - I admit I don't understand it. Is it something you can summarize in a post? My impression is that the training is to watch for drug interactions, verify that the med and dosage seems appropriate - those two things I would actually prefer to trust to a well designed computer system than to a variety of humans, some of which may not be fully 'on-task' on a particular day. There is probably much more to it that I just don't know about.
The computer system does assist in those areas and thank goodness for that. Our training is also supposed to enable us to discuss possible side effects, what to do if you miss a dose, what food, drinks, activities to avoid while on a medication, and other helpful things. Unfortunately, in the retail setting, a lot of time is spent dealing with insurance problems and non-formulary drugs. Youíre always on speaker phone with the doctorís office or on hold for an insurance company all the while trying to crank out as many prescriptions as safely as possible. A 15 minute wait just turned into a one hour wait. People no like and get angry! Iím a pretty patient person and understand they get frustrated. So retail suits me fine. There are so many other areas in pharmacy available to fit any personality Ė hospitals, computers, finance, drug education, academia, industry, ambulatory care, home health to name several. About 60% work in retail.

BTW, those were good questions.
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Old 06-17-2007, 06:53 PM   #22
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FancyBear,

I'll bet your life has been a lot more stable than mine. That is important. Furthermore, I'll bet you have worked in the same place for ten years. That means 401k and pension. At 65, I will get a grand total of $400/month in defined-benefit pensions. Count your blessings, LBYM, save like crazy, invest wisely and FIRE.

In order to make the big bux in our profession, one generally has to change jobs. This is high-risk and gets old quickly.

All the best,

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Old 06-17-2007, 11:50 PM   #23
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Thank you. Iíll be happy to share my thoughts.
Thanks for the insights, interesting. I suppose some of this came about as a sort of checks-balances between prescribing doctors and the actual distributing of the meds. A good system could help catch unethical doctors and fake 'scripts.

I admit, I get a bit annoyed when it takes an hour to get a routine script filled, but I suppose some amount of this oversight is necessary. And while I can see the need to talk to the patient, well, I've already talked with the doctor, and I am going to read the label and info, so it seems a bit of a waste to tie a professional up with telling me a third time, but I'm sure some people need that coaching. Better that I get a bit annoyed than someone else gets hurt.

I suppose if there is any significant health insurance cost reforms, there might be more automation placed here that could make more effective use of a pharmacist's time (like a secure network between the doctor and the pharmacy, and some electronic ID for the patient to make sure it all matches up w/o a lot of human intervention).

Thanks again, I actually do know some pharmacists personally, but I feel a bit awkward asking some of these questions of them. It's a little like asking a retiree - 'what do you doooooo all day'?

One question I did ask of one though - 'what about those sloppily written prescriptions?' - I was a bit shocked to hear the response: 'Well, we know the common drugs and dosages, if it looks out of the ordinary, we call the doctor'! Wow, that struck me as an awful laid back and inefficient process! In other industries, I've seen much less critical processes barcoded and made secure just to avoid a costly (but not even near life threatening) error. It seemed odd to me that sloppily hand written slips of paper are still the norm in this day and age.

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Old 06-18-2007, 04:33 PM   #24
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Pharmacists fresh out of pharmacy school in WI are starting at $90,000 plus a guaranteed bonus when you hit one year, usually around $10,000-$15,000.

I don't know any pharmacists with 3 or more years of experience making LESS than $125,000 a year.

Also, they frequently get "signing bonuses" of up to $20,000 to move from one big chain to another...........
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Old 06-18-2007, 04:38 PM   #25
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Pharmacists fresh out of pharmacy school in WI are starting at $90,000 plus a guaranteed bonus when you hit one year, usually around $10,000-$15,000.
Is this in exchange for a normal 40-hour work week?
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Old 06-19-2007, 08:18 AM   #26
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Pharmacists fresh out of pharmacy school in WI are starting at $90,000 plus a guaranteed bonus when you hit one year, usually around $10,000-$15,000.

I don't know any pharmacists with 3 or more years of experience making LESS than $125,000 a year.

Also, they frequently get "signing bonuses" of up to $20,000 to move from one big chain to another...........

Hmmmm, my kid is a bio-chem major. He has talked about pharmacy school. Maybe I should listen more closely?

His GFs dad is pharmacist. He is now doing some kind of work with their computer systems - not sure if it the support stuff for pharmacists, or some other aspect of the pharmacy business, but he is on a more regular schedule now. And also near 'normal' retirement age. But I guess he did his time with all the wacko retail hours.

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Old 06-19-2007, 03:58 PM   #27
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Is this in exchange for a normal 40-hour work week?
Depends on who you work for. At Walgreens, they work more like 50-55, but the pharmacist get 1/4 a day of extra vacation for every week they work over 50 hours a week, and from what I heard they are going to discontinue that very soon.......

So, if you want 40 hours a week, take a 35% pay cut and work at the VA..........
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Old 06-19-2007, 04:21 PM   #28
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Depends on who you work for. At Walgreens, they work more like 50-55, ...
So let's assume 52.5 hours a week. Or 12.5 hours overtime per week. Overtime pay is 1.5x regular pay.

40x + (12.5 * 1.5x) = 90000/52
3055x = 90000
x = $29.46/hour for a pharmacist

For a Chemical Engineer
x = 56000/2080
x = $26.92/hour

How many years of college are required to become a pharmacist?
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Old 06-19-2007, 05:16 PM   #29
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I am a ChE (somebody calls us 'CNs')
:confused:

Isn't CN the abbreviation used for Chemical Engineering? CE is for Civil Engineering.

CN was used at the university I went to, and is still used today as far as I know. I have seen ChE used too, but not quite as often.
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Old 06-19-2007, 07:02 PM   #30
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Sam,

My professional association is the "AIChE"--the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. There may be other abbreviations outside of the US; I don't know.

Ed
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Old 06-19-2007, 11:37 PM   #31
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So let's assume 52.5 hours a week. Or 12.5 hours overtime per week. Overtime pay is 1.5x regular pay.

40x + (12.5 * 1.5x) = 90000/52
3055x = 90000
x = $29.46/hour for a pharmacist

For a Chemical Engineer
x = 56000/2080
x = $26.92/hour

How many years of college are required to become a pharmacist?
If I'm understanding you right, you were pointing out that pharmacists don't "really" make that much more money since they are working harder. However, I'd much rather work harder the first 10 years of my life than have to work an additional 10 years
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Old 06-20-2007, 01:14 AM   #32
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So let's assume 52.5 hours a week. Or 12.5 hours overtime per week. Overtime pay is 1.5x regular pay.

40x + (12.5 * 1.5x) = 90000/52
3055x = 90000
x = $29.46/hour for a pharmacist

For a Chemical Engineer
x = 56000/2080
x = $26.92/hour

How many years of college are required to become a pharmacist?
4 years undergrad, and 3 years of pharmacy school, plus you need to pass a state board exam.

The smart ones become Head Pharmacists, which run a region and make big bucks...........

When my dad graduated pharmacy school in 1955, he made about $4000 a year............
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Old 06-20-2007, 06:59 AM   #33
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If I'm understanding you right, you were pointing out that pharmacists don't "really" make that much more money since they are working harder. However, I'd much rather work harder the first 10 years of my life than have to work an additional 10 years
It was just a practical financial analysis. By the time the individual has completed the degree in pharmacy, the chemical engineer already has 3 years of working experience. The ChemEng would be making more money (per hour) than the newly minted pharmacist. The ChemEng has been making money in the past 3 years while the pharmacy student was spending.
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Old 06-20-2007, 08:58 AM   #34
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It was just a practical financial analysis. By the time the individual has completed the degree in pharmacy, the chemical engineer already has 3 years of working experience. The ChemEng would be making more money (per hour) than the newly minted pharmacist. The ChemEng has been making money in the past 3 years while the pharmacy student was spending.
That is the point of the weekend program. I will still be working as a ChE /CN /whatever with the exception of the last year. So I'm really not losing income, just time. However, I am recently divorced with no real social life so I have time. I also have all the prerequisites and took the PCAT already (very easy) so it's just 2 years of classes, one year of clinicals.

My main goal was not the money (though it is a part of it) but the flexibility (i.e. part time work, easier relocation, not being an engineer, etc.). Yes, I will have to pay for school but I also think I will have less of a chance of being laid off as a pharmacist (happened once already) and I stand to lose more income that way than with the loans.

Jobs in my field are not abundant where I live and I don't really want to relocate. But I do like all of the comments. You all bring up some very interesting points.
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Old 06-21-2007, 12:14 AM   #35
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Well you can always move to Houston TX. Clueless newbie engineers fresh out of school are making 65k+.

I would look on monster.com, rigzone.com, etc. Maybe post your resume and see what happens, you will probably be swamped with opportunities and take down your resume due to the flood of responses from headhunters.

Finding something stable and long term would be the rub when chasing money like this.
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Another Take on the Profession
Old 06-21-2007, 02:42 PM   #36
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Another Take on the Profession

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People are generally very nice to you. Is it easy to find a part-time job.
My older sister works in retail pharmacy as well and doesn't enjoy the people aspects of it. First, she reports that there are a lot of elderly customers with no post-secondary education to speak of that are more than happy to tell her how to fill their prescriptions. Then there are the ever-present closeted addicts with forged prescriptions. Finally, there are the pharmacy techs, who never made it past high school, but whose egos inflate enormously when they happen into a technical profession. As a pharmacist, she is also a de facto supervisor and has to deal with their interpersonal conflicts, alliances, and rivalries.

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The average salary is $120,000/year in Southern CA not including bonuses or overtime.
I believe my sister does all right, but I don't think she's on that kind of gravy train. But then again, she joined the profession before the current boom and I understand that there is salary inversion, where kids straight out of school can earn as much or more as longtimers, especially in "hot" areas of the country. Regulation and the high barrier to entry is what keeps salaries relatively high. Plus you're relatively safe from offshoring.

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What sucks about being a pharmacist is the schedule. It's all over the place. Weekends, evenings, holidays - no 9-5 unless you're really lucky.
My sister's experience is that retail (drug stores, grocery store pharmacy, discount retailer pharmacy) wants you to work 10-12 hour shifts as well. So you might only work three or four days a week, but each of those days is completely filled with work (and collapsing afterward).

I should also mention that my sister acquired carpal tunnel syndrome from using the pharmacy computers (she's petite and the pharmacy really is designed for people taller than she is).
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Old 06-21-2007, 02:51 PM   #37
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Welcome to the board LeGrange. So you a math man? If you can have LeGrange Multiplier as your screen name, I should change mine to Rule against Perpetuities.
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Old 06-22-2007, 06:38 AM   #38
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Welcome to the board LeGrange. So you a math man? If you can have LeGrange Multiplier as your screen name, I should change mine to Rule against Perpetuities.
I studied some math in college, but the real reason for the moniker is that my usual monikers (hottie13, thuglife4eva, etc.) were taken.
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Old 06-22-2007, 10:23 AM   #39
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4 years undergrad, and 3 years of pharmacy school, plus you need to pass a state board exam.

The smart ones become Head Pharmacists, which run a region and make big bucks...........

When my dad graduated pharmacy school in 1955, he made about $4000 a year............
My niece graduated a pharmacy program last year and accepted a position with the VA @ $85K to start, plus all the Federal level benefits.....25 years old. She told me that several of her classmates were offered positions with large national chains @ $100K to start.
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Old 06-22-2007, 12:31 PM   #40
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Lagrange, your sister needs to insist that her workplace meet her needs. There is no excuse for inflexible workstations in this era. She is in a high demand occupation. They will go a long way to keep her from walking.

Yes, the elderly and uneducated can be needy. But middle age PhDs can be PITAs too. It's just that the elderly and uneducated are more often sick, they are her customers. If they are truly a challenge for her she should talk to a psychologist and develop a couple scripts of the other kind to help her deal with their behaviors.

Managing people isn't easy.

FancyBear, life is short. Coulda, woulda, shoulda when you are over 50 is a downer. I say go for it recognizing that there is no heaven on earth.
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