Arkansas Job Market is Still Strong for Pharmacists

by Kate Knable  on Monday, Oct. 1, 2012 12:00 am  

Graduates of the state’s two pharmacy schools haven’t had past trouble picking up jobs in the state, and job prospects of future graduating classes remain good, according to school officials.

Schwanda Flowers, an associate dean with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Pharmacy in Little Rock, said she didn’t think USA Drug layoffs would alter the job market much.

“I have talked to some USA Drug pharmacists. From what I understand, … Walgreens plans to rehire and keep most of those pharmacists with the company,” she said. “Fewer pharmacies don’t necessarily mean that they need fewer pharmacists.”

At graduation this year, 88 percent of the 105-member UAMS pharmacy class of 2012 had accepted job offers, Flowers said, and the other 12 percent might have been pursuing further training or negotiating with prospective employers.

Most UAMS pharmacy students end up working in Arkansas, she said.

Even if central and northwest Arkansas pharmacist jobs aren’t plentiful, south and northeast Arkansas and the Delta still offer opportunities, Flowers said.

To his knowledge, all 55 of the 2012 graduates from the Harding University College of Pharmacy in Searcy got jobs, said Jeff Mercer, assistant dean of experiential education at the school. This year’s grads were the college’s inaugural class.

However, about 60 percent of Harding’s pharmacy students come from out of state and aren’t dependent on its job market.

Demand for prescriptions and the pharmacists who dispense them should only increase, Mercer said, due to retiring baby boomers and the expansion of health care insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act.

“There’s not anything about the [Walgreens] merger that has changed the volume of prescriptions,” Mercer said. “I see that as continuing to increase.”




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