Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Pharmacy Residencies and Dual Degrees as Complementary or Competitive Advanced Training Opportunities

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Pharmacy Residencies and Dual Degrees as Complementary or Competitive Advanced Training Opportunities

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

As health care reform continues to be a central discussion topic in the United States, the potential impact on the pharmacy profession and its future outlook is constantly being assessed. With pharmacist-driven initiatives such as medication therapy management (MTM) services, (1) pharmacy immunization programs, (2) and other health and wellness programs, pharmacists have become more visible as health care providers. This transition from dispensers of medications to providers of clinical knowledge and preventive care services has been reflected in and encouraged by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) 2004 Center for the Advancement of Pharmaceutical Education (CAPE) educational outcomes. Initiated to further develop the academic curriculum for training pharmacy practitioners, the CAPE outcomes state that future pharmacists must be competent in 3 major areas of practice: pharmaceutical care, system management, and public health. (3) Evidence that these goals are being accomplished is exemplified in the development of MTM services, which are an expansion of the pharmaceutical care foundation of pharmacy practice. (4) Additionally, pharmacists' roles have also expanded in systems management, with the development of pharmacy informatics and medication use systems, as well as in public health, through health education and disease prevention programs. (3)

With the increase in the number of colleges and schools of pharmacy and the easing of the national shortage of pharmacists, both practicing pharmacists and students may be concerned about what the future of pharmacy practice will entail. Because of the national shortage of pharmacists over the last 15 years, there has been expansive growth of pharmacy colleges and schools in the United States. In 2003, there were approximately 87 colleges and schools of pharmacy offering the PharmD degree, as well as other pharmacy-related graduate degrees. (5) As of January 2012, there are 127 PharmD programs with accreditation status in the United States (119 programs with full accreditation or candidate accreditation status, and 8 with pre-candidate accreditation status). (6) Consequently, the number of pharmacy graduates entering the job market each year has increased dramatically.

Data from the Pharmacy Workforce Center (formerly known as the Pharmacy Manpower Project) provides relevant information on the supply and demand for pharmacists and pharmacy services in the United States. (7) A study examining the change in pharmacist demand over a 10-year period from 1999-2010 using the aggregate demand index (ADI), (8) a monthly state-based survey of the unmet demand for pharmacists, revealed lower demand levels for pharmacists since late 2006, which parallels with the economic downturn in the United States. (9) The study also indicated a significant relationship between the ADI and US unemployment rates, suggesting that an improved economy could result in an increase in pharmacist demand. Despite the slowdown in pharmacist demand, the 2009 National Pharmacist Workforce Survey indicated more pharmacists practicing part-time and working past retirement age, as well as a shift in the pharmacy profession toward providing more patient care services. (10) As a result of the shifts in the demand for pharmacy services, many PharmD students are considering additional training opportunities to differentiate themselves among the increased number of pharmacists entering and remaining in the profession. They also want to contribute to the expanding role of the pharmacist in the dynamically changing health care environment.

As pharmacy transcends from a product-oriented to a patient-centered profession, there is an increased emphasis on clinical pharmacy and other skills important in health care. As a result, postgraduate pharmacy residencies and dual-degree programs have emerged as leading avenues for student pharmacists to consider for obtaining additional training. …

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