Trained pharmacists are in demand

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I must take issue with the article, "Rx for a Glut: Schools Turn Out Too Many Pharmacists" by Bill Toland (Oct. 27). The story should have provided a more complete and accurate picture of pharmacy education and the employment prospects for pharmacy school graduates.

The academic and professional training that pharmacists receive is consistent with their vital place in our health care system; they are often the only health care professionals whom people see regularly. Professional pharmacy education has increased to a minimum of six years because pharmacists need to acquire extensive scientific knowledge and training in order to deliver this patient-focused care.

The reporter quotes just one source to estimate "20 percent unemployment of new grads by 2018." Yet the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 25 percent employment growth for pharmacists by 2020, with the field adding 69,700 new jobs. Indeed, the BLS highlights several factors contributing to this projected demand growth, including scientific advances, the proliferation of new drugs, the aging U.S. population and the anticipated retirement of older pharmacists.

It is true that some areas, principally urban markets like Pittsburgh with one or more pharmacy schools, have fewer opportunities for new graduates. However, pharmacy employment is a nationally competitive market and graduates often move from their home cities to find the best jobs.

As our health care system evolves to meet the needs of a changing America, we will continue to provide outstanding pharmacy education, and to ensure the best future for pharmacists, patients and their communities.

LUCINDA L. MAINE
Executive Vice President and CEO
American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
Alexandria, Va.


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