One of the most important ancillary services in the healthcare industry is the pharmacy. This refers to a health profession that connects chemical sciences with health sciences. The profession has the responsibility of ensuring the effective and safe utilization of pharmaceutical drugs. It is worth noting that the scope of this profession goes beyond conventional roles such as dispensing and compounding medications (Rouse et al., 2010). It incorporates relatively new healthcare services such as the provision of drugs’ information, reviewing medication for efficacy and safety, as well as other clinical services. In essence, pharmacists are drug therapy specialists and the principal health professionals who maximize the use of medications to offer patients positive health outcomes (Rouse et al., 2010).
Pharmacies have the sole mission providing pharmaceutical care. In any pharmaceutical department, the pharmacists and other staff coordinate and integrate with the effects of other caregivers to improve the outcomes of patients through the cost-effective distribution of medication, as well as detecting, preventing and resolving problems related to drugs. The problems may be remedied through enhancing the effectiveness of drug therapy or even preventing drug misadventures. In essence, pharmaceutical care refers to the responsible drug therapy provision aimed at achieving specific outcomes that would enhance the quality of a patient’s life. It aims at producing four outcomes, including curing ailments, reducing or eliminating symptoms, preventing diseases and slowing down or arresting disease processes (Rouse et al., 2010). To attain these outcomes, pharmacists resolve, detect and prevent obstacles in the course of the therapy, thereby operating as elements of a comprehensive multidisciplinary healthcare team (Rouse et al., 2010). Some of the key personnel in pharmacies include clinical coordinators, supervisors, system and inventory control coordinators, pharmacists and inventory control, technicians.
While the pharmaceutical field is an essential component of the healthcare industry, it has been deeply affected by demographic trends changes and forces of demand and supply. Demographic trends refer to the historical changes in gender, age, mobility and location of pharmacies or their personnel. It is noteworthy that since time immemorial, females have been found to predominate the pharmacy workforce (Guest et al. 2005). This was observed not only in the US but also in the UK, New Zealand, Ireland, as well as Canada between 2000 and 2004. Besides, the ages of pharmacists who are practising the profession were investigated in these countries. There were indications that the largest pharmacist proportion was between the ages of 30 and 45 (Guest et al. 2005). The studies found out that most male pharmacists were older than their female counterparts. It is noteworthy that male pharmacists predominated over 50 years of age.
This profession has also been affected by trends about changes in demand and supply. As much as a shortage of pharmacists has existed since the ’70s, it gained prominence between 2000 and 2006 meriting widespread investigation as well as international action to bring the modifications (Guest et al. 2005). It is noteworthy that there are variations in the shortages of pharmacists and their causes in varied countries. On the same note, there has been a decrease in the demand for postgraduate training. This goes on to explain the shortage of the pharmacy workforce (World Health Organization, 2006).
Studies have established a strong correlation between the shortage of pharmacists and decreased patient safety. Error hazards may increase due to understaffed institutions and long work shifts (World Health Organization, 2006). Besides, errors have been blamed on the increased interruptions, the extreme workload that staff members and variations in the available staff. Such interruptions, errors and hazards raise concerns about the ability of pharmacists to safeguard the safety of their patients or ensure that the outcomes are appropriate for patients (World Health Organization 2006). In essence, pharmacists have a key role in identifying improvement in the distribution or use of drugs, as well as other steps that may be taken to decrease the chance of medical errors.
Optimization and Mitigation of the Trends
The variation in the age groups and the gender of pharmacists is a fascinating trend. As much as it does not pose much danger in the provision on the provision of pharmaceutical services, it is worrying that the profession is being deprived of the male workforce whether by chance or choice (Cooksey et al. 2002). In essence, it would be imperative that proper marketing is carried out to demystify the profession as a woman’s domain. This would increase the number of males that sign up in the profession.
Besides, it is encouraging that the largest proportion of the pharmaceutical workforce is between the ages of 35 and 45. This means that the profession has a lot of potentials as far as growth is concerned. The profession is assured of a certain level of the workforce for at least the next two decades (Cooksey et al. 2002). In essence, it could invest in this workforce and encourage them to pursue the profession to higher levels of learning than their current ones.
In the case of shortages of pharmacists, it is imperative that proper marketing of the profession is done, as well as increasing the incentive to attract people to the profession. An increased number of pharmacists must be recruited in pharmaceutical schools. Besides, an increase in pharmaceutical training schools would be imperative to increase the number of pharmacists in the nation (Cooksey et al. 2002).
In conclusion, pharmacy is one of the most crucial departments in the healthcare industry. It is mainly aimed at curing ailments, reducing or eliminating symptoms, preventing diseases and slowing down or arresting disease processes. To attain these outcomes, pharmacists resolve, detect and prevent obstacles in the course of the therapy, thereby operating as elements of a comprehensive multidisciplinary healthcare team.
- Rouse MJ, Council on Credentialing in Pharmacy & Albanese NP (2010). Scope of contemporary pharmacy practises roles, responsibilities, and functions of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. J Am Pharm Association
- World Health Organization (2006). Global Health Workforce Alliance Strategic Plan.
- Guest D, Battersby S, & Oakley P, (2005). Future Pharmacy Workforce Requirements: Workforce Modelling and Policy Recommendations. Executive Report.
- Cooksey JA, Knapp KK, Walton SM & Cultice JM (2002). Challenges to the pharmacist profession from escalating pharmaceutical demand. Health Affairs