In Sweden, as in many other countries, the roles of pharmacists have changed over the years. From primarily dispensing medications, pharmacists have become more clinically involved in patient care in different ways in the healthcare system [1
]. For example, clinical pharmacists as part of a ward team have become more common in hospitals and primary care, and patient care services and different business models have also been developed in community pharmacies. Some of these changes in job assignments might be due to the re-regulation of the Swedish pharmacy market that took place in 2009. This re-regulation implied a transition from a state-owned pharmacy monopoly to an open pharmacy market, including both community and hospital pharmacies [1
]. Taken together, these changes might have affected pharmacists’ job satisfaction. This is important because performance, motivation, and productivity are factors that are positively linked to job satisfaction, while lack of job satisfaction might affect patient care and safety negatively and increase job turnover [5
Several studies have addressed pharmacists’ job satisfaction with different results. At an international level, a study performed in Saudi Arabia found that most of the pharmacists in different healthcare settings were satisfied with their current job (39% satisfied and 25% slightly satisfied) [6
]. A recent study in Malaysia found that job satisfaction among community pharmacists was high (77% were satisfied with their jobs) [10
], whereas another study in Malaysia among pharmacists in the public sector reported that only 52% were satisfied with their current job [11
]. Further, in Northern Ireland, a little more than half of the community and hospital pharmacists reported that they were satisfied with their current job “most of the time”, and in that study, job satisfaction was linked to stress levels [12
]. Many factors might contribute to pharmacists’ job satisfaction and dissatisfaction, according to previous research. For example, lack of time for interaction and lack of recognition can affect job satisfaction negatively [13
]. The setting seems to be important, and one study performed in Great Britain found that community pharmacists were less satisfied compared to pharmacists working in other sectors [14
]. Further, continuing professional development (CPD) has been found to be of importance for job satisfaction [15
], as well as the female gender [16
]. Age, income, and part-time work are other factors associated with job satisfaction [11
Umeå University offers three pharmacy programs—a three-year Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy program, a five-year Master of Science in Pharmacy program, and a two-year Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Science program. The programs were started in 2003, 2012, and 2010, respectively. Graduates with a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree can apply to the two-year master’s program in order to obtain a master’s degree. In addition, there are two different professional degrees in Sweden prescriptionists (with a bachelor’s degree) and pharmacists (with a master’s degree). The term pharmacist will be used throughout the paper, including both professional degrees. All three pharmacy programs are web-based, and the online material consists of recorded video lectures, assignments, and animations and is available through a virtual learning environment. Meetings between students and teachers occur online approximately once a week. In addition, the students are gathered on campus 2–4 times each semester for lab work, oral presentations, and role play.
A questionnaire was previously sent out to those who had graduated from pharmacy programs at Umeå University, Sweden, between 2006 and 2014 [19
]. That study found that most graduates (91%) were satisfied with their jobs. The study also found that the factors of access to CPD and the perception that the knowledge and skills acquired during university education are useful in the current job were significantly associated with job satisfaction. Because of the aforementioned changes in pharmacists’ roles and assignments, it would be interesting to investigate the present level of job satisfaction and if there have been any changes over time. The aim of the present study was, therefore, to explore job satisfaction among pharmacists graduating from the pharmacy programs at Umeå University, Sweden, between 2015 and 2018, and to compare this with those graduating between 2006 and 2014.
This study explored job satisfaction among pharmacy graduates and also compared job satisfaction over time. The characteristics of the graduates in the present study were similar to the previous study [19
]. A majority of the graduates were female, were born and lived in Sweden, and worked in community pharmacy. The median age of graduates in Sweden is 26.9 years (2018/2019) [22
]. Compared to this and also to pharmacy graduates at other universities in Sweden, graduates from Umeå University are older, which is likely due to the web-based format of education [23
]. A majority of the graduating pharmacists were female, and this is consistent with the pharmacy student population and the workforce of pharmacists in Sweden as well as in other countries [24
]. Besides, there were similarities in age and gender between the alumni survey and the university records, showing that the sample was representative of the graduates.
The overall job satisfaction was high. No differences in job satisfaction were observed between graduates with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. Among graduates with a master’s degree, a greater diversity was seen regarding the workplace, which is expected since a master’s degree offers greater possibilities to work in other workplaces besides community pharmacy. A majority of the graduates worked in community pharmacy, which has undergone substantial changes during the last decade, partly as a result of the re-regulation of the pharmacy market in 2009. The number of community pharmacies has increased [1
], the opening hours have been extended, and the demand for prescriptionists and pharmacists has increased. The results showed that most graduates obtained their first job even before graduation, which confirms the high demand for prescriptionists and pharmacists in Sweden. Furthermore, the roles, as well as job assignments of pharmacists in community and hospital pharmacy, have changed. A recent investigation regarding the work environment was performed among Swedish pharmacists working in community pharmacies, and the pharmacists reported high workloads and feelings of stress [29
]. Previous studies have shown an association between workload and job satisfaction and stress among pharmacists, i.e., a high workload and stress negatively affect job satisfaction [30
]. The changes in the pharmacy market over the last decade might have the potential to negatively affect job satisfaction, but this was not observed.
Compared to other studies investigating job satisfaction both in Sweden and in other countries [11
], the present study, as well as the previous investigation in 2015 [19
], showed that job satisfaction among the graduates was higher. Furthermore, a majority of graduates answered maybe or definitely yes to the question of whether they would start the same career if they were to choose again, thus indicating that most of the graduates were satisfied with their choice of career. Comparisons with other countries must be made with caution due to different contexts, but studies of job satisfaction in Sweden are limited. The higher job satisfaction among the graduates might at least partly be explained by the web-based format of the pharmacy programs, which attracts certain types of students, i.e., highly motivated students with a great interest in pursuing a career within pharmacy [19
]. However, because a higher proportion in the present study, compared to the previous study [19
], thought that spending the remainder of their working life in a job like their current one was depressing most of the time or all of the time, this might indicate that job satisfaction is decreasing, and further investigations are needed in order to confirm this.
No effects of gender on job satisfaction were observed in this study. However, other studies have shown that gender can affect job satisfaction and that women in general report higher levels of job satisfaction [16
]. In addition, older age has also been shown to be associated with higher job satisfaction [11
]. However, in the present study, age was not shown to affect job satisfaction, which could be due to the sample size. The result regarding age was in agreement with a recent study conducted in Malaysia, where levels of job satisfaction were shown not to be related to age [10
]. A U-shaped age effect on job satisfaction was also reported earlier, i.e., younger and older workers showed higher job satisfaction than middle-aged workers [16
]. Thus, the effect of age on job satisfaction appears to be complex.
A majority of the graduates agreed or strongly agreed that the knowledge and skills acquired during their education are useful in their present job. However, in contrast to the previous study [19
], this was not associated with higher job satisfaction, which might be due to the sample size. The results from the present survey showed that a majority of the respondents considered that their access to CPD was high (satisfactory to very good). High access to CPD was also associated with high job satisfaction, which was in line with previous research [15
]. However, approximately one-third of the respondents had limited or very limited access to CPD, indicating that there is still room for improvement when it comes to access to CPD in Sweden [19
Other investigated variables like employee category, workplace, years since graduation, and income did not affect job satisfaction in this study. The workplace was previously found to affect job satisfaction [10
]. One study found that community pharmacists were less satisfied compared to pharmacists working in other sectors [14
]. Another study found that job satisfaction was higher among pharmacists at chain pharmacies compared to pharmacists at independent pharmacies [10
], but the opposite was also found [18
]. Regarding years since graduation, this variable appeared to both increase [11
], decrease [19
], or be independent of job satisfaction [10
] in previous research. Income was also found to both increase [18
] or be independent [19
] of job satisfaction. The variation in results regarding variables that affect job satisfaction is probably an effect of different settings and circumstances in different countries. Some of the investigated variables in this study resulted in rather large confidence intervals in the regression analysis, which might be due to the relatively small sample size or a large variation within groups.
Strengths and Limitations of the Study
This study has some strengths and limitations. An advantage is that the study enabled job satisfaction to be studied over a relatively long time period, i.e., between 2006 and 2018, when comparing two groups. However, job satisfaction can be regarded as a subjective matter and might vary depending on individual preferences and might also vary over time for one individual. The questions about job satisfaction were asked at a single time point, and this has to be taken into account when interpreting the results. Furthermore, the results might not be representative of the pharmacist workforce in Sweden because all participants had graduated from the same university. It would be interesting to conduct a study, including pharmacy graduates from other universities in Sweden, in order to explore if there are any differences regarding job satisfaction due to regional differences or differences in the educational set up (i.e., campus versus distance-based education). In addition, selection bias cannot be excluded because graduates who are more positive with regards to their profession might have been more likely to answer the survey compared to those who are more negative.
This study investigated job satisfaction among pharmacists graduating between 2015 and 2018 and showed that the overall job satisfaction was high. Furthermore, when comparing the results with a previous study (pharmacists graduating between 2006 and 2014), the level of job satisfaction was similar. The changes in pharmacists’ roles and assignments occurring over the past years appeared not to have impacted on the level of job satisfaction. The factor of most importance for job satisfaction was access to CPD, and high access to CPD was associated with high job satisfaction. No effects of gender or age on job satisfaction were observed. In addition, variables like employee category, workplace, years since graduation, and income did not affect job satisfaction. High job satisfaction among pharmacists might affect performance, motivation, and productivity positively, while a lack of job satisfaction might affect patient care and safety negatively and increase job turnover. Knowledge regarding job satisfaction will enable employers, managers, and policymakers to respond to employees’ needs, decrease turnover, and improve the work environment. It will also enable educators to work with student recruitment strategies and prepare students for their future professional roles.