Magazine article Drug Topics

R.Ph.-Recruiting Incentives Reaching New Heights

Magazine article Drug Topics

R.Ph.-Recruiting Incentives Reaching New Heights

Article excerpt

Shortages of pharmacists around the country are driving hiring incentives, bonuses, and base salaries to new levels. In northern California, for example, Kaiser Permanente just agreed to a three-year contract that pushes the base salary to $53.40 per hour-over $100,000 annually-for some pharmacists (see page 44).

In Dallas, Allied Consulting said recruitment requests for pharmacists jumped over 1,000% between 1997 and 1999. "The demand for pharmacists is unprecedented in my experience," said Allied Consulting v.p. Curtis Pryor. "There's a real feeding frenzy going on out there, with employers offering everything from signing bonuses to luxury cars."

The American Pharmaceutical Association is seeing the same frenzy But while rising demand is pushing pharmacy pay higher, pharmacist shortages are forcing some retailers to close pharmacies and limit services, said Lucinda Maine, APhA senior vp. for professional affairs.

"All of us--chains, hospitals, independents, government--are having the same problem hiring pharmacists," said Jody Stewart, director of pharmacy operations for Raley's grocery and pharmacy chain, based in Sacramento, Calif. "But no matter how much you offer, there just aren't enough pharmacists to meet the demand. I see a common $5,000 signing bonus in newspaper want ads."

Some chains are paying even more. Bill Fassett, dean of the Washington State University College of Pharmacy in Pullman, said signing bonuses have hit $10,000 in the Pacific Northwest. Some employers are offering more for hard-to-fill rural pharmacies and paying student loans in return for long-term job commitments.

And that's only the beginning. In April, CVS circulated a memo offering up to $20,000 in referral fees to employees who help land pharmacists for "red market" stores in Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio; Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Pharmacists in Oklahoma told Drug Topics that Tulsa-based May's Drugs is offering signing bonuses of 8% of base pay and $400 per month in car lease payments to lure new R.Ph.s. Full benefits start at 32 hours per week.

Another chain in Okla- homa is offering full bene- fits for pharmacists who work just 27 hours per week. "The offers are real," said John Dormer, executive director of the Oklahoma Pharmacists Association. "Every pharmacist in the state got the same mailing from May's, including me."

Walgreens has its own incentive and bonus programs. The Chicagobased chain is focusing on Dallas, El Paso, Fort Meyers (Fla. …

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