Magazine article Drug Topics

Who Makes What

Magazine article Drug Topics

Who Makes What

Article excerpt

Worker bee pharmacists have broken the $50,000 annual base salary barrier; the catch is that it appears Ebenezer Scrooge is now in charge of the pay raise department.

The average base pay of all employee pharmacists responding to a Drug Topics-Hospital Pharmacist Report survey was $53,600. Before pharmacists chip in to buy the boss a thank-you gift, though, they may want to consider a more ominous finding. The base pay average increase dipped to an anemic 7.6% for the past two years. It seems that the days of double-digit pay hikes may be over for a while, as our survey at the end of 1992 revealed a 9.7% increase, down from a healthy 12.1% base pay jump in 1990.

In terms of percentages, the biggest winners were discount store pharmacists, whose pay hikes rose 9% during the past two years. HMO (health maintenance organization) and independent practitioners both garnered pay hikes of 8.2%. Hospital pharmacist salaries actually staged a recovery of sorts during the past two years. Their base pay rose 8%, compared with the puny 4.8% hikes tallied in our 1990 and 1992 surveys. Chain pharmacists hit the overall average of 7.6%, a far cry from the 11.4% raises they reported in 1992. Supermarket R.Ph.s brought up the rear with only a 6.3% upswing over two years ago.

Not surprisingly, discount pharmacists took home more marbles than their peers, averaging $58,000 in base pay. Although the respondent pool of discount pharmacists was small, the findings were consistent with our 1992 results. Pharmacists working for HMOs finished in second place again, averaging $56,600 in base pay. Chain pharmacists were on the next rung, coming in at $54,900, only slightly ahead of the $54,400 posted by their supermarket peers and the $54,300 average of hospital R.Ph.s. Independents brought up the rear, averaging $49,000.

Pharmacists who are paid by the hour earned an average of $25.45, which is $1.83 more than they got 10 years ago. Broken down by practice settings, HMOs paid the most per hour ($28.31), followed by discounters ($27.11), chains ($25.75), hospitals ($25.74), and supermarkets ($25.57). As usual, independents trailed at $23.21 per hour, about a dollar more than in 1992.

The income of most pharmacists doesn't stop with just a paycheck. Bonuses, overtime, and profit-sharing usually boost the year-end bottom line. When all the extras were tacked on to base pay, the average pharmacist in our survey earned a total of $56,436, which is $4,045 more than they earned altogether two years ago and $7,426 ahead of the total reported in 1990.

The extras pushed discount pharmacists' average income to $62,259 to win the overall salary sweepstakes, as they did two years ago. Their $4,229 in additional income came mainly from significant overtime pay and bonuses. Chain R.Ph.s tallied an average total of $59,176, with $4,276 in extra income, also due mostly to overtime and bonuses. The managed care crowd averaged $59,094 overall, with $2,494 above base pay for the HMO sector. Helped by an average of $3,680 worth of add-ons, supermarket pharmacists averaged a total of $58,080.

Hospital pharmacists may have been caught in a budgetary squeeze play, as facilities have fewer bonus dollars and lower profits to share. Their R.Ph. employees, who also worked significantly fewer overtime hours, had to make do with an average of only $958 above base pay, for a total package of $55,258. That still put them ahead of the also-rans among independent pharmacists, who averaged a total package of $51,415.

Pharmacists in our survey worked an average of 42 hours per week, plus three hours of overtime. Supermarket pharmacists earned the most per week ($57), for a total of $1,582 annually, which was a drop of $76. But, on average, discount pharmacists earned the most overtime pay--$2,390. At the other end of the overtime spectrum, hospital pharmacists earned only $18 weekly in overtime, or $535 in 1994.

Overtime pay was averaged among all employee pharmacists in our survey, not those who were paid for extra hours. …

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