Choking is an art form that is taught in multiple disciplines such as martial arts, self defence, unarmed combat training in the military, air marshals and the like. It is designed to put the opponent in to a position in which they are either forced to “tap out” or submit to the winner, or, literally, to be choked out in to unconsciousness.
There are two ways to choke some one:
- Air choke: Eliminating the route in which oxygen reaches the lungs by either putting pressure on the trachea via the throat, or blocking the nose and mouth – It deprives the body of the air which carries the oxygen required to maintain life.
- Blood choke: Cutting off the supply of blood to the brain (carotid artery) as well as stopping the deoxygenated blood from returning from the brain to the heart (Jugular vein).
The air choke might take 2-4 minutes or so depending on the fitness level of the person being choked out. The more effective way of choking is the blood choke, and if applied properly, will knock a person out well within 10 seconds, and failure to relieve this pressure will result in serious injury or death.
The blood choke can also be applied easily with much less strength than may be required by the air choke. If you have ever watched the Ultimate Fighter Championship, you would have at one point or another seen this choke being applied.
Relevance to Retail Pharmacy?
Pharmacy at the moment is undergoing some significant changes to its landscape, especially in the retail sector. The threats that are currently facing the industry can be seen to be coming from multiple angles. There is no doubt that its being choked. The question is, is retail pharmacy being air choked or blood choked and how long will the current landscape survive.
Factors affecting pharmacy workforce
Factors that are affecting pharmacy at the moment are
- Increasing student numbers and therefore graduate pharmacists
- Decreasing profit margins (PBS, generics)
- Increased competition from discount pharmacies
- Decreasing real wages of employee pharmacists
- Perception of the public being “ripped-off” by retailers, including pharmacy
Would you recommend pharmacy as a career?
A recent survey of 537 pharmacists on the Australian pharmacists forum website, Auspharmlist, revealed an interesting phenomenon. 82% of pollers responded “no to the question posed: “(Would you) recommend pharmacy as a career to a senior secondary school student?” That is clearly an overwhelming majority. Poor wages, job prospects and job satisfaction were reasons given with 58% of voters choosing “no” to all three reasons.
Interestingly, 5% thought prospects were good, and another 13% gave a more modest response of it depending on the individual student.
With decreasing wages and increasing competition, why should a career in pharmacy be considered? If you look at government data such as Jobs Outlook website, it seems to paint a much rosier picture. This table is extracted directly from there:
Job prospects are good. GOOD? Ok, by their own admission they say that the data is collected on annual basis and so not up to date. Problem is, job issues have been ongoing in the pharmacy world for some time….not just the last 12 months.
There are now over 16 or 17 pharmacy schools pumping out graduates annually, almost a threefold increase from a decade ago.
It seems that the “strong growth” in future employment will first need to be consumed by currently registered pharmacists unable to find work before graduates even get a foot in. Unless of course, graduates ask for less pay…which leads us to income…
From a related link, http://www.myfuture.edu.au, the following data is available
So in 2006, full time employed pharmacists (regardless of gender, age or experience, just the average) were earning $1308 per week. That’s less than $35 per hour. Currently, in the market, if you get $35 you would be well paid, with employers realizing that a shift in the demand supply ratio has moved in their favour. If you account for inflation, real wages in Australia for pharmacists has been reducing over the last five years.
A first year graduate is currently being paid $28-32 per hour. This might increase with experience or if you move to locations outside the city to $33-36 per hour. Hospital pharmacists are slightly better off. But the demand/supply ratio will surely spill in to the hospital environment soon.
Locum pharmacists in Victoria earn $35-40 per hour plus super, and similar rates around the country. If you locum in non-metropolitan areas, travel and accommodation might also be thrown in to the benefits.
Of course, what the graph wont be able to tell us is in 2006, how many of those part timers actually wanted to work full-time?
With the above factors in play, there is one more assault that is attacking the industry. Pharmacy, in light of recent media reports and apparent public perceptions, seems to be no longer a health profession dedicated to the well being of their clients, but rather dollar hungry shop keepers who charge exorbitant mark ups on scripts and are more concerned about the price of their perfumes than counselling the patient on how to use their new medication!
In a downward spiral it seems, the pharmacy retail industry is losing its grip on the professionalism it once used to own. More and more pharmacists are being paid less and less, job satisfaction appears to be reducing, and jobs are getting harder to come by.
Slowly, pharmacy is being choked. Something must change in the landscape if being a “pharmacist” is to survive and remain a professional health care provider in the eye of the community rather than simply a shop keeper putting labels on boxes and selling perfumes and ice creams.
The time is now for something to be done. For the industry to reinvent itself.