US pharmacists: more patient care, less dispensing

White House - US pharmacists

US pharmacists are performing more patient care activities in a variety of healthcare settings, and spending less time in the traditional dispensing role, results released from the Pharmacy Workforce Center’s 2014 National Pharmacist Workforce Survey show.

The 2014 report also reveals that American pharmacy has shifted toward a female-dominated profession, with more women than men serving as actively practicing pharmacists and in management positions.

The 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, Inc. (PWC) since 2000 and has been highly anticipated throughout the industry.

“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,” says Douglas J. Scheckelhoff, M.S., FASHP, vice president of the Office of Practice Advancement at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and president of PWC.

“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 (57%) now being women, up from 46% just five years ago.”

Over the past decade there has been a dramatic increase in the percentage of pharmacists who are performing healthcare-related services.

Sixty percent of pharmacists provided medication therapy management and 53% performed immunisations in 2014, compared to only 13 and 15%, respectively, in 2004.

The percentage of time that full-time pharmacists spent on services associated with medication dispensing decreased from 55% in 2009 to 49% in 2014.

Patients have greater access to pharmacists’ services in a variety of settings than in past years.

In 2014, 48% of chain pharmacies and 57% of supermarkets offered health screenings. This is a stark contrast to the percentage of pharmacists who reported offering those services in 2004: only 7% of chain pharmacies and 27% of supermarkets, respectively.

In 2014, more than 25% of hospitals and other patient care settings have collaborative practice agreements in place, thus allowing pharmacists to expand their role as an integral member of the patient’s healthcare team.

The pharmacy profession continues to provide growing opportunities for women, the report found. In addition to women now comprising the majority of the active workforce, the proportion of women who served in pharmacy management positions was greater than men for the first time since the workforce surveys began in 2000.

In 2014, 55% of managers were female and 45% were male. This compares to 41% female managers in 2009, 41% in 2004 and 37% in 2000.

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

When it comes to pharmacists’ careers, two trends emerged from the 2014 survey data. The first is that more than 50% of pharmacists stated that they have a high level of career commitment. In 2014, 66% of pharmacists reported feeling this way, which is a slight increase from 65% in 2004 and significantly greater than 50% reported in 2000.

Pharmacists are also spending an average of 7.9 years with their employer according to the 2014 survey, which is only slightly less than the average tenure of a pharmacist in 2009 at 8.2 years.

The second trend supports the idea that pharmacy graduates can expect more career opportunities in the future as the older male pharmacist workforce continues to enter retirement age. Nearly 50% of actively practicing male pharmacists are over 55 years old, thus approaching retirement age and eventually leaving the profession.

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