Faculty Shortage Calls Some Pharmacists Back to School
Jennifer LeClaire / Monster Contributing Writer
With pharmacists already in short supply nationwide, a dearth of pharmacy professors threatens to deepen the pharmacy labor crisis and backfire on the needs of the marketplace.
“The shortage of pharmacy faculty, now and in the future, represents a serious public health threat in the face of the rapidly growing consumer demand for prescription drugs,” says Lucinda Maine, executive vice president of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP).
In 2006, the AACP reported an 11 percent faculty vacancy rate. Even with vacancies at this level, pharmacy schools are expanding enrollments to meet increased demand, and at least nine new pharmacy schools are scheduled to open by 2010, two factors that will only exacerbate the problem, says the American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education.
More on Pharmacists
Salary: $67,860 - $119,480
Min. Education: Doctorate
Related Careers: Physician, Dentist
Therein lies the dilemma. With industry wooing both graduates and teachers with skyrocketing salaries and enviable benefits, who will instruct the next generation of pharmacists the industry so desperately needs? The solution lies in attracting more new pharmacy graduates and more practicing pharmacists alike to careers in teaching.
Academia has been successful in attracting graduates like Mike Kane, PharmD, who are interested in specializing in a clinical practice at a university. Kane has been on staff at Albany College of Pharmacy for 16 years and is active as a clinical practitioner in endocrinology.
While working in retail pharmacy during college, Kane quickly learned he didn’t like the “fast food” pace of filling prescriptions in an environment that afforded him little opportunity for patient interaction. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree, Kane did a residency at a hospital, and decided he didn’t like that either. So he went back to school, got his doctorate and pursued a professorship at a much lower salary than what he could have earned in the industry.
“Teaching is challenging,” Kane says. “Every day I learn something new, because students ask some tough questions. I enjoy contributing to others’ educations. I enjoy the flexibility of doing something different every day between teaching and my clinical practice. There’s also a certain prestige that goes along with being a professor. It’s an intangible benefit, but a benefit nonetheless.”
Not Always About the Money
With such a considerable salary difference between nontenured faculty and practicing pharmacists — the latter sometimes earn $20,000 a year more — why would a practicing pharmacist want to go into teaching?