A Vision of Pharmacy's Future Roles, Responsibilities, and Manpower Needs in the United States

This paper was prepared by the 1997-1999 ACCP Clinical Practice Affairs Subcommittee A: Michael S. Maddux, PharmD, FCCP, Chair; Betty J. Dong, PharmD; William A. Miller, PharmD, FCCP; Kent M. Nelson, PharmD, BCPS; Marsha A. Raebel, PharmD, FCCP, BCPS; Cynthia L. Raehl, PharmD; and William E. Smith, PharmD, PhD

Pharmacotherapy. 2000;20(8) 

In This Article

A Vision for the Future

The future ain't what it used to be.
Yogi Berra, 1974 [2]

Our subcommittee was charged to address the many factors likely to impact future qualitative and quantitative manpower needs, and to develop a vision of pharmacy as it might exist at the conclusion of the first decade of the 21st century. The list below, to a great extent, is based on the information, analyses, and forecasts stated in this paper. As is the case in all visioning efforts, much of what we expect may not come to pass; new, unforeseen developments may influence profoundly the future of the pharmacy profession. However, we offer the following predictions of how events affecting pharmacy may unfold during the next decade:

  1. Health care will place increasing emphasis on drug therapy to improve patient outcomes and quality of life. Prescription drug use will continue to rise, creating greater risk of drug-related morbidity.

  2. Society will become increasingly technology literate and technology driven. Technology will be deployed fully to dispense most prescriptions, provide drug information to patients, and facilitate the exchange of patient-specific data among and within health care systems.

  3. Pharmacy will transform itself from a primarily product-centered profession to a patient care-oriented profession.

  4. Patient care rendered by pharmacists, including those not directly involved with drug product distribution, will be reimbursed by payers.

  5. Corporate pharmacy and independent pharmacy owners will find pharmacists' patient care services to be profitable and will commit resources to this market, including enhanced use of technology and technicians.

  6. State boards of pharmacy and governmental legislation will enable and facilitate pharmacists' patient care activities, both individually and in collaboration with other health care professionals.

  7. Technician certification will be mandated to protect the public.

  8. Pharmacy education will prepare graduates for increasingly complex patient and population drug therapy management and problem-solving, and supervision of prescription dispensing and processing by technicians and automated technology.

  9. Pharmacy schools will experience an unprecedented increase in graduates due to a continued rise in demand for pharmacists, popularity of health care careers, and an increased visibility of pharmacists' patient care roles in the 21st century.

  10. Appropriate credentials that document clinical practice abilities will be a prerequisite for all pharmacists who provide patient care services. Eventually, residency training will be an expectation of most entry-level pharmacists.

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