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Study: Pharmacist role on health care team grows

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National workforce survey spotlights shift from traditional dispensing

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Pharmacists are performing more patient care activities in various health care settings and are spending less time in their traditional medication dispensing role, according to the the Pharmacy Workforce Center’s “2014 National Pharmacist Workforce Survey.”

pharmacist_Walgreens Rx deskThe 2014 National Pharmacist Workforce study, based on a sample of more than 5,200 licensed pharmacists, found that over the past decade the percentage of pharmacists performing health care-related services has risen sharply. In 2014, 60% of pharmacists provided medication therapy management (MTM) services and 53% administered immunizations, compared with 13% and 15%, respectively, in 2004.

Meanwhile, the percentage of time that full-time pharmacists spent on services related to medication dispensing dropped to 49% in 2014 from 55% in 2009.

Along with the shift toward pharmacist-provided health care, patients have gained access to pharmacist services in a wider variety of settings than in past years, according to the survey. In 2014, 48% of chain pharmacies and 57% of supermarkets offered health screenings, while in 2004 just 7% of chain pharmacies and 27% of supermarkets provided those services. The study also revealed that as of last year more than 25% of hospitals and other patient care settings had collaborative practice agreements in place, enabling pharmacists to expand their role as a member of the patient’s health care team.

On the pharmacy practice side, the report shows that pharmacy has shifted toward a female-dominated profession, with more women than men serving as practicing pharmacists and in management positions.

In 2014, 57% of the active pharmacy workforce were women, up from 46% five years ago. And for the first time since the workforce surveys began in 2000, the proportion of women who served in pharmacy management positions in 2014 was greater than that of men. Last year, 55% of pharmacy managers were women and 45% were men, compared with 41% of women managers in 2009 and 2004 and 37% in 2000.

Women are also taking advantage of career opportunities outside of retail, supermarket and hospital pharmacy, the report noted. The highest representation of females was in industry and other nonpatient care settings, at 66% and 61%, respectively.

In the area of pharmacy careers, more than half of pharmacists in the 2014 survey stated that they have a high level of career commitment. In 2014, 66% of pharmacists reported feeling this way, compared with 65% in 2004 and 50% in 2000. Pharmacists are also spending an average of 7.9 years with their employer according to the 2014 study, slightly less than the average tenure of a pharmacist in 2009 at 8.2 years.

Another trend identified in the study is that pharmacy graduates can expect more career opportunities going forward. Nearly 50% of actively practicing male pharmacists are over age 55, thus approaching retirement age and eventually leaving the pharmacy profession.

“The National Pharmacist Workforce Survey has once again pinpointed important shifts in the pharmacist workforce and reveals valuable insight about how pharmacists spend their time,” Pharmacy Workforce Center president Douglas Scheckelhoff, vice president of the office of practice advancement at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, said in a statement. “A notable shift identified in the 2014 survey is that more pharmacists are working in patient care roles and providing more patient care services than in any previous survey. Demographic changes are also notable, with a majority of the active pharmacy workforce now being women.”

This study is the fourth in a series of surveys conducted by the Midwest Pharmacy Workforce Research Consortium, which has been commissioned by the Pharmacy Workforce Center since 2000. For the 2014 survey, data were collected from a random sample of 5,200 individuals selected from a list of 7,000 licensed pharmacists in the United States.

A nonprofit corporation, the Pharmacy Workforce Center Inc., formerly known as the Pharmacy Manpower Project, collects and develops data on the size and demography of the pharmacy workforce and conducts and supports research in related areas. It is comprised of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, American College of Clinical Pharmacy, American Pharmacists Association, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Board of Pharmacy Specialties, Bureau of Health Workforce, National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation, National Community Pharmacists Association and Pharmacy Technician Certification Board.


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