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For 2014, do we save pharmacy's graduates or lose them?

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Over the last two weeks or so, I’ve tried to compile a list of things I’d like to see happen in order to protect and improve the pharmacy profession for the twelve months ahead. But in all honesty, I’ve struggled. Because there is only one issue that really dominates the profession for me at the moment - the looming crisis on what we need to do to protect the welfare and enhance the growth of the careers of graduates with a pharmacy degree.

Last week marked the 1st anniversary since my appearance on the television news in much of Scotland. At that time, I was out of work (and I hadn’t even really got my career off the starting grid) and really struggling to convince anybody that I was worth taking on. But since then, much has changed for the better and I’ve really grown in my confidence and my career, despite not being in a permanent position.

I really feel for the graduates coming through their pharmacy degrees and those undertaking their journey towards their degree, because their future could well be a very uncertain and unpromising one, unless they receive the support necessary to point them in the right direction when it comes to developing and sustaining a happy career and working life.

We need to end the unsubstantiated myth that becoming a pharmacist in community, hospital or industrial are the only three career paths that can be taken. A pharmacy degree is an excellent qualification to achieve and, unless radical action is taken now (not in five years time or later) to open up the job market for pharmacists within pharmacy, then it is nothing but understandable if pharmacy graduates turn to other areas of work to undertake their careers.

At a time when our health services are becoming more and more under pressure and strain, now is not the time to put future graduates off from becoming pharmacists. We need to invest in, grow and protect (all three without delay) the pharmacy profession for everyone’s benefit and interest or else we run the serious risk of going backwards and losing the best talent to elsewhere.

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