Practice Characteristics of Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Pharmacy Degreed Pharmacists Based on the 2009 National Workforce Survey

By Kreling, David H.; Doucette, William R. et al. | American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, November 2010 | Go to article overview

Practice Characteristics of Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Pharmacy Degreed Pharmacists Based on the 2009 National Workforce Survey


Kreling, David H., Doucette, William R., Chang, Elizabeth H., Gaither, Caroline A., Mott, David A., Schommer, Jon C., American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education


INTRODUCTION

In 1948, the American Council on Education (ACE) recommended that the professional pharmacy curriculum be a 6-year program. (1) Soon after, a few colleges and schools adopted the PharmD as the first professional degree for pharmacists. In the more than 50 years that ensued, additional colleges and schools developed PharmD curricula, with many offering post-BS PharmD degrees for practicing pharmacists or new graduates seeking to advance their educational background. In June 1997, the American Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) officially adopted new accreditation standards, requiring the PharmD as the sole, first pharmacy degree, effective July 2000.

The path to adopting the PharmD as the first professional degree for pharmacy practice was filled with debate. Arguments were made that the change should be based on the needs and demands for clinical roles, and to enhance the profession's contributions to society. Increased prospects for career opportunities and improved professional image also were offered by proponents of the change. To the contrary, there were concerns that the new standards would create overqualified pharmacists, especially community pharmacists involved in technical dispensing functions. (2,3) The debate about whether moving toward a universal degree was the right choice for pharmacy continued even after the mandate that the PharmD degree be the sole first professional degree was implemented. (4) There has been a call for greater preparation, requiring residencies for pharmacists who will provide direct patient care. (5)

The changed first professional degree requirements have created a workforce of pharmacists who have been prepared differently for practice. Compared to curricula for BS degrees, PharmD curricula were extended by 1 year to include additional coursework in pharmacotherapy and patient care, plus expanded experiential learning with specified activities and exercises emphasizing clinical skills. Consequently, examining whether and how pharmacists differ in terms of practice setting and practice activities, such as dispensing drugs and providing drug-related patient management, is important. By examining activities of BS and PharmD degree graduates, particularly recent PharmD degree graduates, we can begin to evaluate the change to the PharmD and how different training may be translated into practice. Findings about whether and how pharmacists' practice activities have changed since transitioning to the PharmD degree also may provide some evidence about the potential implications of requiring residency training for pharmacists to provide direct patient care.

Several studies comparing practice patterns and job satisfaction of PharmD and BS degreed pharmacists were conducted before the PharmD degree requirement was adopted. (6-9) Those studies showed that BS graduates were more likely to be employed in a community setting than in a hospital setting. Pharmacists' satisfaction did not differ consistently by degree, and the amount of time in clinical activities and direct patient care was relatively small and did not differ by degree. For example, in 1988, Cox and Carroll reported that pharmacists, regardless of degree, spent more than half their time in drug distribution and less than 15% of their time, on average, was devoted to direct patient care. (7) Other studies have focused on individuals who completed non-traditional PharmD degrees to raise their educational credentials to the newer, higher standards. These studies suggest that completing the nontraditional PharmD degree was associated with a change in position, increased satisfaction, and involvement in more patient care and clinical activities at the pharmacists' work sites. (10-13)

Our literature review found no studies that compared PharmD and BS degreed pharmacists since adoption of the PharmD as the first professional degree requirement. Our first objective was to use a national sample of pharmacists to update previous studies that examined practice settings for pharmacists with different practice degrees. …

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