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Study examines provincial pharmacist workforce

By Sharon Gray

A new study shows that Memorial’s School of Pharmacy is the principal supplier of the province’s pharmacist workforce.

The study, based on a master’s thesis by Dr. Stephanie Young, assistant professor in the School of Pharmacy, surveyed pharmacists who graduated from Memorial between 1990 and 2007. The vast majority of respondents, 97 per cent, were still working as pharmacists in 2009 and two-thirds were still practising in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Dr. Young said that work conditions were the top factor that MUN-trained pharmacists reported when they consider choosing a job, followed by benefits and level of pay.

Most respondents to the survey worked in community pharmacies, with the remainder employed in health care facilities or government.

The survey found that more women are choosing pharmacy as a career, with 61 per cent of MUN-trained pharmacists being female. “Our study also showed that women were less likely than men to want to leave Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Dr. Young.

The study, titled Current Work Locations and Reasons for Job Choice of Graduates of Memorial University School of Pharmacy, suggested three major findings.

“We need to set aside or create more seats in the School of Pharmacy for students from the province,” said Dr. Young. “We also need to explore ways to increase pharmacists’ salaries and offer other incentives for pharmacists to work in the province, or both. And finally we need to continue research on the pharmacy workforce, in particular the impact of the growing number of women in the profession, the number of pharmacists leaving the field and the reasons why, and the strengths and weaknesses of existing data systems used to track the pharmacists’ workforce.”

In addition to Dr. Young, the authors of the summary report were Greg Basky and Dr. Maria Mathews, Division of Community Health and Humanities.