Category: Fellows Posters
Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) students engage in numerous introductory and advanced practice experiences throughout the curriculum that may impact their future career choice. In addition to experiences within the curriculum, other external factors such as family circumstances, geographic location, or saturated job markets can also influence career choice. The objective of this analysis was to examine factors that have the greatest influence on career choices among PharmD students in the United States.
A voluntary, anonymized, online Qualtrics survey was administered to students enrolled in ACPE accredited PharmD programs. Surveys were sent to faculty and staff of these schools in January 2019 to share with students in the next four graduating classes (graduation years 2019-2022). The survey questions consisted of Likert-scale, ranking, multiple choice, and free-responses. An analysis was conducted to compare the perceived importance of job characteristics, individual/group influences, and career limitations based on level of importance for consideration of post-graduate career options. Results were analyzed using a completers analysis and summarized descriptively. Ranked responses were analyzed by calculating a reversely weighted average for each response option, for example, responses ranked ‘1’ received the most points. Factors that limit career options were assessed by the degree to which students agreed with the statement. The study was approved by an institutional review board.
A total of 659 students completed the survey. The top four most preferred career options were clinical specialty pharmacy (21.9%), ambulatory care pharmacy (18.4%), community pharmacy (17.53%), and health system/hospital pharmacy (14.6%). Work-life balance was selected as being the most important job characteristic among all students identifying their post-graduate career preferences [ranked first = 289/659 (44.1%)]. The least important job characteristic was the opportunity to travel for work [ranked last = 309/659 (47.0%)]. Most students among all classes agreed that a saturated job market would impact their future career options [341/659 (51.9%)]. Geographic location, financial pressures, and non-geographic personal circumstances limited career options in over one third of students. In terms of individual/group influencers, family was ranked as having the highest level of influence on post-graduate career preferences [ranked first = 209/659 (32.0%)], followed by spouse/significant other. News media was ranked the least influential by most students [ranked last = 396/659 (60.8%)].
The most preferred careers were traditional pharmacy roles. Students demonstrated a proclivity toward external factors as work-life balance was ranked most important compared to career advancement and earning potential. Moreover, personal relationships, such as family or significant other/spouse, were highly valued when deciding on a career. Job saturation was identified as a primary limiting factor in career choice. This concern may indicate an underlying challenge that pharmacy professionals need to address as students transition into the job market. Future research can assess and track career preferences and influencing factors of pharmacy students as the role of pharmacists continues to evolve.