Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Association between Increased Number of US Pharmacy Graduates and Pharmacist Counts by State from 2000-2009

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Association between Increased Number of US Pharmacy Graduates and Pharmacist Counts by State from 2000-2009

Article excerpt


The beginning of this century marked a period of substantial and persistent demand-driven shortages in the labor market for pharmacists (1,2) as well as unprecedented growth in the number of colleges and schools of pharmacy. Although the current recession in the United States has impacted employment in almost all sectors of the economy, there are demographic trends in the US population that suggest strong demand for pharmacist services in the future, including policies favoring payment for pharmaceutical care and new drug development. Thus, the future balance of pharmacist supply and demand is uncertain.

The number of new graduates from US colleges and schools of pharmacy is an important determinant of the supply of pharmacists in the United States. Changes in pharmacy graduate rates across states should be monitored regularly because the supply of pharmacists from state to state varies and policies affecting pharmacist practice and education activities are made at the state level. (4-7) While changes in the number of graduates have been documented in the literature, most notably with respect to revisions in the most widely cited supply forecasting model for US pharmacists, (3) there has not been a specific examination of state-level counts of pharmacy graduates since 2000. (4) Although some growth in the pharmacist workforce may be attributable to foreign graduates, previously practicing pharmacists reentering the profession, and, on a state level, pharmacist migration between states, new graduates account for the vast majority of new pharmacists joining the US workforce each year. Without an adequate number of new pharmacist graduates entering the workforce to balance the number leaving because of retirement and death, the size of the pharmacist workforce would decline over time. Thus, the number of graduates provides an estimate of the potential of the pharmacist workforce to respond to population-based changes in demand. However, an examination of graduate counts alone is limited because it does not provide information about where graduates find their first employment, differences in workforce by gender, and the adequacy of graduate rates to meet current or future demand. (8) As such, pharmacist graduate numbers should be considered only one data element in a broader analysis of pharmacist workforce planning.

Size of the pharmacist workforce is another fundamental data element of a broad analysis. As population is a key factor influencing pharmacist demand, size of the workforce can be assessed at a basic level as a ratio of pharmacists to population. Demand for pharmacists is derived from the demand for goods and services pharmacists produce, such as dispensed prescription drugs and information related to the proper use of prescription and nonprescription drugs. Because older individuals are greater consumers of these goods and services than any other age group, (9,10) the population 65 years and older may be the most appropriate segment to consider in an examination of the pharmacist workforce. (9,10) Hence, ratios of pharmacist to population age 65 years and over that are relatively small can serve as a proxy for a lower supply of pharmacists relative to demand. A low pharmacist-to-older population ratio also may indicate relatively low access to care or a low level of supply relative to an underlying need for services.

One previous study examined trends in pharmacy graduate rates and compared number of graduates to overall population at the state, census division, and census region levels. (4) The authors are not aware of a study that has examined trends in the numbers of pharmacy graduates and compared them to pharmacist-to-population ratios at the state level to determine state response to a relatively low supply of pharmacists.

The primary objective of this study was to determine whether growth in the number of pharmacy school graduates between 2000 and 2009 was larger in states with lower counts of pharmacists relative to the population over age 65 years in 2000. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.