It's my understanding that you cannot "just come in off the street" into a ROTP pharmacy program. You must be accepted into a pharmacy school, and those schools require at least one and possibly two or three years of university before you are eligible to apply. At least one drug chain will give you 50,000 dollars in school if you agree to work for them afterward for 4 years. I think the starting wage was around 90,000 per year (on top of the recruitment bonus) for a new grad.
And don't get me wrong...I'm not saying pharmacy students should receive the same pay as medical or dentistry students, but pharmacists make well above what most professions do. I'd put it on a level similar to law, which, coincidentally enough, has its own payscale.
Not ripped off, but pharmacy students have a lot of options. There are hefty offers and signing bonuses from drug chains, they have student lines of credit that are beyond what the average arts or science student can get. And don't forget a licensed pharmacist will make close to or over 100k. It's not an average degree program, and should be compensated in a similar fashion to how law, medicine, and dentistry are. I'm not saying the same as medical students, but if you don't offer at least close to what they can make civie side...well, get used to pharmacist shortages.
You are absolutely mistaken on what pharmacists make. Barely above minimum wage? Perhaps you are thinking of pharmacy technicians....although even they make between 20-30 dollars an hour. I don't know any pharmacists that HAVE to work late night shifts. I would guess they either prefer it, don't mind it, or make more because of it. I do know of pharmacies that close early because the pharmacist(s) won't work late nights.
Let me just reiterate my argument again to be clear. I am not saying pharmacists should make as much as medical or dental officers. Legal officers don't make as much either, yet they still have a separate payscale...
You cannot enter a pharmacy program right out of high school (unless you apply and are accepted to a 6 year program). It is like law, medicine and dentistry in the fact that you must complete a number of years of university coursework, as well as certain science prereqs to apply. Further, a pharmacy grad stands to earn MUCH more than your average grad. There is a current and chronic shortage of pharmacists in the CF according to what I've heard.
From all of that, it makes sense to me to offer pharmacists an educational and professional compensation package that is more in line with what they would make civie side. I know there are people who will disagree, and that's fine. To those people I would ask, though...why is it the CF has trouble attracting and retaining pharmacists?