The demographics of the pharmacy field are continuing to change quickly, according to the 2019 National Pharmacist Workforce Study. Those changes include significant gains in racial and gender diversification.

The 2019 study is the fifth in a series of surveys conducted by the Midwest Pharmacy Workforce Research Consortium, which was commissioned by the Pharmacy Workforce Center, Inc. in 2000. The 2019 survey was the first to also address new workforce factors such as professional fulfillment, harassment, and discrimination.

According to the results, the percentage of non-white licensed pharmacists increased by 46%, from 14.9% in 2014 to 21.8% in 2019. Specifically, the percentage of black pharmacists more than doubled, from 2.3% to 4.9%.

Pharmacy continues to be female dominated, according to the survey. In 2009, only 46.4% of the workforce was women, compared to nearly two-thirds of the workforce in 2019. This trend extends into leadership roles, as well, where 58.8% of pharmacists in management positions were women in 2019.

In addition to significant findings in racial and gender diversity, the study found that the profession is continuing to trend younger in its composition. Nearly half of practicing pharmacists (47.7%) were ages 40 years or younger in 2019, compared to just 24.4% for the same age demographic in 2009. According to the study authors, this is likely due to recent growth in pharmacy graduates and the simultaneous retirement of older pharmacists.

“This has positive implications for patients as these practitioners are trained in new systems of care and will play key roles in the future of pharmacy practice,” said the authors, in a press release.

These findings underscore the dramatic increase in the percentage of pharmacists who have a PharmD degree, according to the authors. In 2019, 53% of licensed pharmacists had a PharmD degree, compared to 37.8% in 2014, and 21.6% in 2009. The investigators attributed this shift to pharmacists with a Bachelor of Science degree who are likely retiring or moving out of practice and into different roles.

Patients also continue to access pharmacists’ services in multiple settings, according to the 2019 survey findings. In 2019, 72% of pharmacists reported offering naloxone dispensing in a community setting, which further underscores the important and expanding role pharmacists are playing in public health.

Despite these promising findings, the investigators also found troubling rates of discrimination, with the most common basis being age, followed by gender. According to a press release, 31% of pharmacists in 2019 reported that they had experienced incidents of discrimination. Notably, 15.7% said they had heard demeaning comments related to race or ethnicity, and 17.2% of all harassment incidents were reported to an employer.

This data should challenge employers and other stakeholders to generate discussion and find solutions to reduce these incidents, according to the authors.


REFERENCE

Pharmacy Profession Becoming Increasingly Diverse and Trending Younger, Survey Shows [news release]. Arlington, VA; April 15, 2020: American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy website. https://www.aacp.org/article/pharmacy-profession-becoming-increasingly-diverse-and-trending-younger-survey-shows. Accessed May 19, 2020.