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January 24, 2008


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What about the pharmacist techs or assistants? What do they make? [Considering a career change here. Would have to get over my mysophobia {germaphobia, for the Wikipedia-less}. But if the money's right, I can just use lots of hand sanitizer.]

I am in healthcare, a nurse, and I do not feel that pharmacists are overpaid. The pharmacist is a crucial part of making sure my patients recieve the right medication, at the right time and in the right dosage. We nurses are in constant communication with the pharmacists who advise us if a medication is being used without adequate diagnosis, if it is outside of the recommended dosage guideline, if it interacts with another medication that a person is recieving, and in addition to that, they now have to make sure we are using medications that are reimbursed by Medicare Part D so that our patients are not socked with incredible bills (or the facility is faced with eating the cost)

In addition, they carry the cost of liability. They can lose their license to practice for making errors that result in actual patient harm. That alone warrants high pay. Nurses are often labeled as under-salaried for all they do (I would just love love love to make more money) I could not do what I do without a competent pharmacist behind the scenes.

Just so you know...Doctors prescribe medications ALL THE TIME without having any clue what the possible ramifications are. So many more doctors would lose their licenses if a pharmacist (or a nurse) didn't catch their mistakes before they hurt a patient.

So add to the list of overcompensated....doctors.

I don't see how seekingfinancialcamelot can say that pharmacists should be compensated for helping to treat patients and for carrying the cost of liability, then turn around and say doctors are overcompensated. Yeah, maybe doctors make more mistakes than they should, but they also play a crucial role in health care, and they also carry huge liabilities for practicing.

We can all complain about how X profession (crappy CEOs?) pays too much and Y profession (public school teachers?) pays too little. But this is a normative judgment: "Ms. X shouldn't be paid as much; Mr. Y should be paid more." This is a value judgment.

If we instead look at the positive economics, the truth is X gets paid a lot because we're (as an economy) willing to pay X a lot, and Y doesn't get paid as much because we as an economy don't want to pay Y as much. So yes, it is supply and demand.

Personally, I'd rather depend on supply and demand to set salaries than on value judgments. First, it's difficult to get consensus. Second, supply and demand incorporates value judgment anyway. If everyone in the economy including employers decided that teachers (or nurses) deserve to be paid more, then they will be paid more.

So... no one has said WHERE this pharmasist makes $60 and hour to start. New York City or Po Dunk Nowhere. Cost of living makes a big difference. Pharmasists here in St. Louis don't make anywhere near that to start.

Pharmacists average salary range is between 95k - 110k starting. Anyone getting paid 120k is either in a high cost of living area or filling a large amount of precriptions. Remember that pharmacists are responsible for a patients life and they are paid well NOT to make mistakes. They are on their feet all day, take no lunch breaks (they just eat at the counter while they fill scripts), talk to insurance companies to get drugs approved, talk to physicians to switch medications that are not covered, deal with patients requests for OTC drugs, take phone calls from patients with health problems, council patients on drugs, and not to mention police the system by weeding out fake prescriptions for narcotics. Oh, they also fill about 200 prescriptions in a 10 hour period on average. The comes out to filling one prescription every 3 minutes not considering the added time it takes if a drug is not covered and they have to try to contact 3 different people (insurance, physician, and patient). And the typical pharmacy degree take 6 years to complete (including undergrad) and it's not easy. I should know...I'm a pharmacist.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!! The farmasists at CVS suck! I went there to get two perscriptions filled and they looked at them, pushed them back to me and said we dont have them. They get paid 100K to not even work? Oh shit, now I am going to be a total bitch next time someone tries to pull that on me. I mean for how dumb they seem to be I am SHOCKED that they can get paid that much. CVS is the WORST!

Ok first off it's clear that we as pharmacists do make excellent money otherwise there wouldn't be so many of us checking out FMF. Many factors including those above go into a pharmacists pay. It took me 6 years, and anymore that is about the minimum, to get my education. The last was 9 months of "rotations." Essentially that amount of time was unpaid work. Even worse, I had to pay tuition to do that unpaid work. There are many many pharmacist behind the scenes at hospitals too. They don't make as much money as your standard retail pharmacist. Retail pharmacists do make quite a bit. Absolutely it depends on where you live but even more so it depends on demand. Here in Kansas City a major mail order facility opened that required over 100 pharmacists. Those just don't appear. My raises just came rolling in to keep me from leaving for the mailorder facility. My company watched pharmacist after pharmacist leave. Fresh out of school in 01 I made high 70's, now I'm in the low 120's. I think everybody would agree KC is a reasonable cost of living environment. Pharmacist pay is just like everything else, supply and demand. There is no supply so we demand more money. And by the way, anybody that wants to say I just count pills can ask there state university why the decided it was necessary to put Doctor of Pharmacy on my diploma.

I'd say that anyone who writes "who's" when "whose" is correct is highly overpaid.

I have to agree with the other poster that I don't know where pharmacists are making $60 an hour, definitely not everywhere. Also, a lot of times pharmacists have debt from school. And yes, it does just level out after that for pharmacists in retail. Do you really know how it is to be a pharmacist? I suggest spending a whole day with a retail pharmacist at CVS to know how hard and draining it is before making your comments, it is not easy.

I think a lot of jobs are dificult, but that does not mean you have to be lazy. There is really no reason for that when you are making a good living. I have never had a good experience with a farmist, literally, NEVER! Constatnly they screw up my perscriptions, quote me incorrect prices, give me too litte. If I did that in my job every day I would have my ass fired. Also, I know it is probably hard to be a farmasist, but its hard to do most jobs and most poeple do not get paid over 100K a year. So cry me a river, build me a bridge and get over how hard it is to do a 9 month unpaid internship. Many degrees require similar things. I am not saying their are not great farmisists out there, but now knowing that they do not make 10 bucks an hour, I think I should expect a little more from the service I am getting. Anyone agree?

I think I am getting farmasists mixed up with the people who check me out. They can't be the same thing. If so, I apologize.

A fellow co-engineer of mine left his job for pharmaceutical sales and within a year is making 100k plus. All he needed to do was to get certified (less than 3 months) and now he is rolling in cash….

I have to comment on this one.

Both of my parents are/were PHARMACISTS (as opposed to the "farmasists" mentioned above... I'm not sure what that profession is...) Seeing both of them come home every night after filling between 60-100 prescriptions was enough for me NOT to want to follow in their footsteps.

Pharmacists are on their feet all day long, going 90+ mph for usually however long the pharmacy is open and most of that day is spent counseling nearly every person on the in's and out's of that particular drug, talking to doctors about what they actually wrote down and dealing with people who wanted their prescription filled an hour ago. Not to mention actually double checking all filled prescriptions, making sure the pharmacy techs didn't screw anything up and laying in bed that night wondering if you accidentally made a mistake that could potentially kill someone.

Their compensation is just.

Sorry, Emily, I don't agree. I've only had great experiences with pharmacists. Your angry tone might be justified; the CVS pharmacists you encountered could be as bad as you say. But that doesn't mean you need to be mean to the whole profession. Most pharmacists are not lazy or stupid, and they follow prescriptions, even correcting mistakes by doctors who do not take into account drug interactions, etc.

I don't think you're confusing pharmacists with cashiers. Your complaints are that they mess up your prescriptions, refusing to fill them or giving you too little. Cashiers don't handle prescriptions.

But at any rate, pharmacists are being paid a lot because there's a greater need for there services than the existing population of pharmacists can supply. You don't pay them, so technically they don't owe you anything. They should be nice to you because it's their job, so if you really have a grievance, talk to the manager of the CVS.

I absolutely think doctors are overcompensated. Crucial role in healthcare? yes. MOST crucial role in healthcare? No way. Sorry. Nurses ( thats right! say it loud) play the most crucial role in healthcare. Half the time, I have to suggest to the doctors what medications might be most appropriate for whatever is going on at the time. Doctors treat medical conditions. They throw medicine and procedures at a condition. Nurses...we treat people. And I am serious when I say, the pharmacists are way more valuable to me than any of the doctors I have met. (and that is over the course of a 12 year career)

And Emily, your local CVS does not carry every medication under the sun. Often times, they truly do not have certain medications doctors prescribe because of a variety of reasons. Medications have expiration dates. If a medication is unlikely to be prescribed often, they will not keep it in the store because it will expire before it is used. If a medication is VERY likely to be prescribed, then they may run out. It happens

Funny, I went to a university with a pharmacy program ... most of those folks didn't want to go into retail phramacy, but then, they weren't getting those salaries then, either.
There is one risk for retail pharmacists I haven't seen mentioned: Robbery. My mother was a store clerk for many years ... there were a couple of instances where the robbers got drugs and $$ and escaped out the back door before anyone in front knew what was going on.
More recently, a friend told me that her brother's store was hit 3 times in a year ... OxyContin seems to be a popular thing to take now.

I have to throw in my two cents. The physician that will come in the middle of the night for an emergent bypass surgery, ruptured appendix, or urgent caesarean section is not overcompensated. They have a special skill set that nurses do not have and require years of training. This also carries the continued risks of malpractice litigation, lifelong continuing medical education, and long hours. Reimbursement for physicans has declined by thiry percent in the last decade adjusted for inflation(3%/yr) because it has essentially unchanged from 1998.

From personal experience, nurses tend to think their positions are overly important. Yes, nurses catch physician errors from time to time, but it is no different in any other profession. Trust me, nurses are not underpaid.

I was an assistant manager for a large retailer. Just glancing at the P&L reports sure opened my eyes when it seemed that the pharmacist made more than the store manager. Not to mention how much the optometrist received in straight up cash at the end of their day.

:: rolls eyes :: Everyone thinks they're undercompensated and other people are overcompensated.

Emily...if the pharmacy doesn't have something in stock..don't blame the pharmcist. Blame CVS's inventory management system. Not having a medicine or not having enough in stock has nothing to do with pharmacist's salary.

Secondly, you mention that they quote you incorrect prices. Please tell me that you're not referring to the price you pay using your insurance card. PEOPLE...if you use your insurance card for prescriptions and you don't like the price...take it up with YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY! The pharmacy doesn't set the prices....we bill the insurance and they give us the price. If your copay happens to go up...take it up with them..not the pharmacy....

People that complain are just plain ignorant...

maybe the last word

nobody else wants to do it.

I am a fourth year canadian pharm student and have already signed for 135,000/year for two years in a community of 40,000. I know what a hardship. Get over it, we make what we make. Trust me, you wouldn't want about 30% of prescriptions going unchecked.

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