Pharmacy Workforce Changes Affecting Patient Care

March 1, 2010 ( - Results released today from the Pharmacy Manpower Project’s 2009 National Pharmacist Workforce Survey indicate the nation’s current economic situation has influenced the dynamics of the U.S. pharmacy workforce, which is affecting the amount of patient care pharmacists can provide.

Between 2000, 2004 and 2009, the proportion of pharmacists working full-time decreased from 73% to 68% to 67%, respectively, while those working part-time increased from 14% to 17% to 20%. Among respondents who were actively practicing as pharmacists, 23% of the workforce reported working part-time in 2009, up from 20% in 2004 and 16% in 2000, according to a press release.  

The decrease in full-time hours suggests that employers may have been forced to reduce staffing levels due to the recession. Supporting this, 68% of pharmacists rated their workload level at their place of practice as high or excessively high, which is an increase of 14 percentage points compared to 2004.

Pharmacists practicing in community pharmacy settings (independent, chain, mass merchandiser or supermarket pharmacies), indicated they devoted at least 70% of their time to medication dispensing. Hospital and other patient care pharmacists devoted less than half their time to medication dispensing and each of these pharmacist categories devoted 27% of their time to patient care on average.

The press release said pharmacists in every practice setting indicated they would like to spend less time in medication dispensing and business/organization management and more time in patient care services, education, and research activities.

“Legislation for health reform has recognized that without an adequate health workforce, both in number and skills, there can be no meaningful reform,” said Dr. Lucinda L. Maine, American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) executive vice president and CEO, in the announcement. “The 2009 National Pharmacist Workforce Survey provides very valuable data with which pharmacy can engage policymakers and others in discussions regarding pharmacists’ many potential contributions to patient-centered care.”

Other Pharmacy Workforce Changes

The survey also found female practicing pharmacists have increased significantly, comprising 46% of the workforce in 2009, up from 31% in 1990. Study results also reveal an aging population of pharmacists with 37% over age 55 in 2009, compared to 30% in 2004 and only 21% in 2000.

The trend of part-time work is increasing for both men and women pharmacists. Twenty-nine percent of women worked part-time in 2009, up from 26% in 2004 and 23% in 2000. For men, the proportion working part-time increased from 11% to 15% to 18% for the years 2000, 2004, and 2009, respectively.

The age distribution of actively practicing pharmacists varies tremendously between men and women. The survey results indicate 48% of practicing male pharmacists are greater than 46 years of age and 30% are older than 60, while nearly half of active female pharmacists are between the ages of 31 and 45, 40% are between 46 and 60, and only 4% are older than 60.

The survey data was collected from a random sample of 3,000 individuals selected from a list of 249,381 licensed pharmacists in the U.S.

More information about the survey can be found here.