New Study Shows Pharmacists Can Decrease Primary Care Provider Burnout

JULY 23, 2019
Pharmacists play an important role as part of the health care team. With pharmacists’ vast drug knowledge and training, their services can be invaluable to primary care providers (PCPs).

Various clinical services that pharmacists can provide include administering immunizations, responding to drug information requests, and providing medication therapy management services (MTM). Comprehensive medication management (CMM) is considered a whole-person approach that takes into consideration more than the medication list, and it is characterized by ensuring that patients’ prescription and OTC medications are assessed to determine the appropriateness of therapy and that they are safe and effective for the condition.

Successful CMM services include pharmacists as part of the health care team, collaborating regularly with PCPs.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, pharmacists also play an important role as a collaborative partner in caring for patients and decrease PCP burnout. The study was part of a larger CMM implementation and effectiveness project that included 36 primary care clinics across 5 states. Sites were required to have established CMM services, and 16 PCPs (physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners) from 4 health systems in Minnesota were selected to participate in the study. 

The study revealed that having a pharmacist provide CMM enabled PCPs to focus on other clinical areas in their practice. Also, the PCPs believed that the pharmacist helped to reinforce treatment decisions leading to enhanced patient care. The PCPs also emphasized that pharmacists are extremely knowledgeable about evidence-based guidelines and medications, making them a valuable resource for drug information questions, treatment options, and prescription insurance coverage.

Ultimately, pharmacists reduced burnout among PCPs and helped benefit their work life through the following 7 outcomes: decreased workload, satisfaction patients were receiving better care, reassurance, decreased mental exhaustion, enhanced professional learning, increased provider access, and achievement of quality measures.

This study provides important information about integrating the pharmacist in the PCP setting. One limitation is that a small number of PCPs were interviewed, so future studies should include more providers with long-term follow-up. Pharmacists should seek out opportunities to work with PCPs to integrate CMM services in the clinic setting. This could also open up more job opportunities for pharmacists to showcase their value and skillset.    


Funk KA, Pestka DL, Roth McClurg MT, Carroll JK, Sorensen TD.  Primary care providers believe that comprehensive medication management improves their work-life.  J Am Board Fam Med.  2019; 32(4):462-473.  doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2019.04.180376.

Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh
Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh
Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh, received her PharmD degree from Nova Southeastern University (NSU) College of Pharmacy in 2006 and completed a 2-year drug information residency. She served as a pharmacy professor at NSU’s College of Pharmacy for 6 years, managed the drug information center, and conducted medication therapy management reviews. Dr. Gershman has published research on prescription drug abuse, regulatory issues, and drug information in various scholarly journals. Additionally, she received the Sheriff’s Special Recognition Award for her collaboration with the Broward, Florida Sheriff’s Office to prevent prescription drug abuse through a drug disposal program. She has also presented at pharmacist and physician continuing education programs on topics that include medication errors, prescription drug abuse, and legal and regulatory issues. Dr. Gershman can be followed on Twitter @jgershman2