Well, my fellow pharmacists, we have safely landed in a new year.

For many newly graduated pharmacists, this may be the first full year of your career as a licensed pharmacist. As such, this coming year is bound to be exciting, challenging and new. For others who are more settled in their careers, the coming 12 months may hold some fears and uncertainties.

And for many pharmacists, a significant concern as we begin this new year is the career landscape before us. Schools have multiplied, not so much as a result of demand for pharmacists, but because of the lucrative business of pharmacy education.

Will 2017 be a year of new opportunities for our profession and new career paths for those who want them? Or will it be a year of more mergers and layoffs that eliminate positions and options?

Historically, we have had limited access to reliable information about career opportunities for pharmacists.

One resource that has been traditionally available as a benchmark for pharmacy jobs has been the Aggregate Demand Index (ADI). While this indicator is admittedly subjective and derived from an undisclosed list of panelists, it nevertheless gave us something upon which to gauge our options. This data, however, has not been updated since March 2016, thus leaving us without any recent information from this resource.

For those who are wondering about the long lag time in data for the ADI, I can tell you I have been in contact with David Krelling, Ph.D., from the University of Wisconsin School of Pharmacy. The data is currently undergoing a server migration and taking longer than expected to complete.

Additionally, the methods used to collect data have recently undergone a change and will soon be reported differently. The ADI will be replaced by a PDI (Pharmacist Demand Indicator). The PDI will use some more objective measures to assess job availability and move to a more convenient format for panelists to supply data.

Another resource available to help assess our current job outlook as pharmacists in the U.S. is the data provided by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. This data provides, sadly, a grimmer outlook for the growth of our career opportunities.

While the job outlook within healthcare overall looks promising at 17 percent, and the general national job outlook for all careers isn't bad at 7 percent, the prospect for pharmacists is miserably low at a growth rate of only 3 percent. And remember, this projection isn't just about this year or next year, but encompasses the expected growth up until 2024.

A final method to measure the career options and job outlook for the coming year is simply an analysis of the actual communications received from pharmacy recruiters, headhunters and staffing agencies. What are they looking for?

I can tell you "staff" positions are pretty rare. While these positions account for the majority of jobs, they are also the easiest to fill right now. Where there appears to be a reasonable demand are jobs for hospital directors, managers, supervisors, informatics pharmacists and specialized clinical positions in areas like oncology and infectious disease.

How should pharmacists plan to manage their careers given the current outlook for pharmacy jobs?

This is a difficult question and will depend a lot on your personal career goals and interests. I highly recommend that pharmacists be proactive in their careers.

Gain new experiences and take deliberate steps to move your career in the direction you want to go. Network extensively with other professionals in your field by taking on new projects, joining associations and through online tools like LinkedIn. Be flexible and willing to relocate for the right position. Keep your resume up to date.

While the number of available positions is steadily shrinking below the number of available pharmacists, there are still great jobs available for those willing to hunt for them. I wish the best of luck to all my fellow pharmacists in 2017 and am proud of the work being done to serve our patients in the coming year.