GREETINGS, YOUNG PHARMACISTS. Congratulations on your choice of an important and rewarding career. The challenges that face the profession of pharmacy today are significant, but the opportunities are nearly limitless. With an aging population, the expansion of retail pharmacies, and the development of new prescription medicines, the demand for pharmacists is "skyrocketing," according to Mercer Human Resource Consulting.
The US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that pharmacists enjoy "high salaries and good job prospects," with projected job growth of 18% to 26% through the year 2014. This is partly due to increased prescription drug coverage by private health insurance plans, as well as the implementation of Medicare Part D, which began providing prescription drug coverage to seniors for the first time in January 2006. With pharmacists' starting salaries topping $90,000 per year in many areas, the future for pharmacists is bright.
The implementation of Medicare Part D has ushered in the era of medication therapy management (MTM). For the first time, the government has said it wants pharmacists to offer medication counseling to the most atrisk senior patients in order to optimize patient outcomes, and is willing to pay for that service. The systemization of MTM services gives us the opportunity to bring about the paradigm shift that we have long sought in pharmacy?that is, a shift in pharmacy practice from products to professional services. We must take full advantage of this opportunity to promote the unique and specialized training we offer, regardless of the practice setting. As the next generation of pharmacists, I urge you to take the lead in shaping the future of pharmacy. Good luck!
Mr. Roberts is the executive vice president and chief executive officer of the National Community Pharmacists Association.