Expanding Roles for Pharmacists

Pharmacists’ Roles on the Healthcare Team are Expanding

Pharmacy Workforce Survey results also indicate more opportunities for women within the profession.

Pharmacists are performing more patient care activities in a variety of healthcare settings and spending less time in the traditional dispensing role, according to the Pharmacy Workforce Center’s 2014 National Pharmacist Workforce Survey. The report also reveals that pharmacy has shifted toward a female-dominated profession, with more women than men serving as actively practicing pharmacists and in management positions.

This study is the fourth in a series of surveys conducted by the Midwest Pharmacy Workforce Research Consortium, which is led by College of Pharmacy faculty members Caroline Gaither, principal investigator, and Jon Schommer, co-principal investigator.

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 percent performed immunizations in 2014, compared to only 13 and 15 percent, respectively, in 2004. The percentage of time that full-time pharmacists spent on services associated with medication dispensing decreased from 55 percent in 2009 to 49 percent in 2014.

Patients have greater access to pharmacists’ services in a variety of settings than in past years. In 2014, 48 percent of chain pharmacies and 57 percent of supermarkets offered health screenings. This is a stark contrast to the percentage of pharmacists who reported offering those services in 2004: only 7 percent of chain pharmacies and 27 percent of supermarkets, respectively. In 2014, more than 25 percent 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. 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 percent of managers were female and 45 percent were male. This compares to 41 percent female managers in 2009, 41 percent in 2004 and 37 percent 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 nonpatient care settings, at 66 percent and 61 percent, respectively.

When it comes to pharmacists’ careers, two trends emerged from the 2014 survey data. The first is that more than 50 percent of pharmacists stated that they have a high level of career commitment. In 2014, 66 percent of pharmacists reported feeling this way, which is a slight increase from 65 percent in 2004 and significantly greater than 50 percent 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 percent of actively practicing male pharmacists are over 55 years old, thus approaching retirement age and eventually leaving the profession.

The survey provides a snapshot of contemporary demographics practice characteristics and quality of work life in the U.S. during 2014. Data were collected from a random sample of 5,200 individuals selected from a list of 7,000 licensed pharmacists in the U.S. Response rate to the survey was 48%.

In addition to Gaither and Schommer, other members of the Midwest Pharmacy Workforce Research Consortium include William Doucette from the University of Iowa, and David Kreling and David Mott, both from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The National Pharmacist Workforce Survey has been commissioned by the Pharmacy Workforce Center, Inc. since 2000 and has been highly anticipated throughout the industry.

To view the complete survey results, executive summary and fact sheet, visit www.aacp.org/resources/research/pharmacyworkforcecenter.