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Career Trends In Pharmacy

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Opportunities for pharmacists are slowly expanding again, surviving the contraction of job supply over the past ten years. Increasing numbers of pharmacy schools, technological advances, and reimbursement changes have all contributed to this decline. Presently the market is trending toward hospital directors of pharmacy and managed care pharmacists.

As models of care are changing, pharmacists are becoming very effective at finding careers in roles of transitions in care. Adverse drug reactions and various medication errors have highlighted gaps in the continuum of care. Hospital re-admissions with their resultant costs have provided incentives for managed care organizations and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to pursue methods of reducing these expenses. All these factors are relevant to pharmacist careers, as positions in medication regimen review (long-term care), medication reconciliation (hospitals and home infusion), prior authorization and utilization management (managed care and governmental healthcare organizations), have trended upwards, and will continue increasing with an aging population.

Three national patient safety goals as defined and structured by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospital Organizations (JCAHO) over the past fifteen years have directly resulted in changing career trends in pharmacy, especially within hospitals. These goals have now effectively increased career opportunities throughout the transitions of care.

In chronological order, the first patient safety goal utilized pharmacists’ expertise in implementing and conducting anticoagulant dosing programs. These programs have resulted in pharmacist-managed anticoagulant clinics and hospital-based pharmacist positions (both acute and rehabilitation).
The second patient safety goal utilized pharmacists’ roles in medication reconciliation, both on admission to hospitals, creating emergency room pharmacists’ positions, and upon discharge from hospitals. This concept has also resulted in medication regimen review positions (long-term care), LTACH (long-term acute care hospital), and rehabilitation centers. Additionally, psychiatric hospitals have adopted these models, contributing to this pharmacist career trend. These pharmacy career trends are contributing positively to more professional collaboration, as well as increasing patient education and empowerment.

The third patient safety goal utilized pharmacists’ education and experience in implementing and conducting antimicrobial stewardship programs. Reduction in overuse of broad-spectrum antibiotics in hospitals and improving the appropriateness of treatment are long-standing directions for healthcare facilities. Infectious disease specialty pharmacists’ training additional clinical pharmacists reflect an increasing career trend since the advent of these programs. These concepts have also created career trends in infusion pharmacies, as well as more recently, become a standard in long-term care (skilled nursing facilities).

Medication therapy management (MTM) utilizing several platforms represents significant career trends in pharmacy. Whether employed by retail pharmacy companies or operating as an independent consultant, health insurance companies and government healthcare programs (Medicare part D and Medicaid) are concluding that MTM improves quality and lowers their costs by eliminating unnecessary medications, reduces medication-related problems, and especially improves medication adherence. Telepharmacy as a remote pharmacist conducting patient interviews also represents a career trend, including some entrepreneurial opportunities.

Career Trends In Pharmacy
Gary Friedman

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