Student Pharmacist Leaders Discuss the Future of Pharmacy

Pharmacy Careers, Pharmacy Careers Spring 2020, Volume 14, Issue 1

Student pharmacist leaders were also asked about the importance of a pharmacist education in obtaining advanced pharmacist roles in their careers.

Student pharmacists expressed hope for the future of pharmacy and excitement about taking on new roles in the profession during a roundtable discussion hosted by Pharmacy Careers® with student pharmacist leaders. Students from 4 colleges of pharmacy—Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Chapman University School of Pharmacy, University of Arizona College of Pharmacy, and Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy—participated in these discussions about the future of the pharmacy industry.

When asked about their future ideal practice areas, the roundtable response with answers as diverse and interesting as the students themselves. Some students wanted to go into traditional pharmacist roles, such as community pharmacy and hospital, wheras others expressed interest in ambulatory care, pharmacogenomics, medication therapy management, poison control, drug information, and industry. Other students spoke about the value of dual degree programs through which students could simultaneously earn their doctor of pharmacy along with a master of business administration, doctor of jurisprudence, or a certification as a physician assistant. Regardless of the practice area of interest, students in the roundtable were in agreement that they wanted to be involved in or have an impact on direct patient care.

Student pharmacist leaders were also asked about the importance of a pharmacist education in obtaining advanced pharmacist roles in their careers. Students overwhelmingly agreed that residencies would play a crucial role in their ability to be successful in the future. They discussed how competitive the job market has become and that this competition increases even more when searching for innovative pharmacy jobs. Most students agreed that completing a residency is important in anticipation of future changes to the profession. Furthermore, some students went on to discuss that residency programs may be only the start and that board certification and pharmacy specialties are the future of pharmacy practice.

Interestingly, students believed that obtaining provider status was absolutely necessary for pharmacists to be taken seriously by colleagues in health care and to move the profession of pharmacy forward. To that end, students expressed their interest in legislative days sponsored by their schools and state pharmacy associations and the ability of those legislative days to affect the profession. They also noted that pharmacy students should not be afraid of contacting their legislators to discuss the issues that affect pharmacy and the future of the profession. Additionally, student pharmacists discussed important issues in pharmacy that need to be addressed, such as the lack of proper reimbursement for pharmacy services, pharmacy spread concerns, and direct and indirect remuneration fees, which are hurting pharmacies and patients across the country.

Student pharmacists also discussed the importance of technology and technical knowledge for the future of the pharmacy profession. For example, student leaders identified that the health care consolidation occurring in the marketplace will change how pharmacists interact with patients. Furthermore, new companies are planning to introduce technology that may disrupt the industry and the profession.

Regardless of the impact of technology, students agreed that pharmacists are going to have to be adaptable, unafraid of technology that could help pharmacists move away from products, and willing to tap their full potential. Student leaders also discussed the importance of staying up-to-date on guidelines and the importance of access to information. They discussed how the use of technology is another way to accomplish this goal.

Students in the roundtable felt that pharmacists, with their expert drug knowledge, can help fellow health care providers improve clinical outcomes for patients. Multidisciplinary care was touted as the future of health care—one in which pharmacists can bring significant value to the team.

Overall, the student pharmacist leaders participating in the roundtable discussions were excited about the future of pharmacy and the roles they may have in it. These students want careers that are interesting, patient centered, and use their education to the fullest.

Brittany Hoffmann-Eubanks, PharmD, MBA, is a clinical pharmacist and the founder and CEO of Banner Medical LLC, a medical communications company.