Pharmacy Profession Becoming Increasingly Diverse and Trending Younger, Survey Shows

Pharmacy Students in white coats.

For Immediate Release

Contact: Maureen Thielemans, 703-739-2330 ext. 1022

Workforce study results also indicate that more women are rising to management positions

Arlington, Va.— Results released today from the 2019 National Pharmacist Workforce Study (NPWS) indicate that the profession’s demographics continue to rapidly change, with notable gains in racial and gender diversification. The percentage of non-white licensed pharmacists increased by 46 percent, from 14.9 percent in 2014 to 21.8 percent in 2019, with the percentage of black pharmacists more than doubling, from 2.3 percent to 4.9 percent respectively. The study also revealed that pharmacy continues to be a female-dominated profession, with nearly two-thirds of the workforce comprised of women compared to only 46.4 percent in 2009. The upward trend continues for women in leadership roles; 58.8 percent of pharmacists in management positions in 2019 were women.

This study is the fifth in a series of surveys conducted by the Midwest Pharmacy Workforce Research Consortium, which has been commissioned by the Pharmacy Workforce Center, Inc. (PWC) since 2000. This year’s survey also addressed new workforce factors, including professional fulfillment, harassment and discrimination.

“The Pharmacy Workforce Center is pleased to provide financial support for all of the National Pharmacist Workforce Studies,” said Elizabeth Cardello, R.Ph., President of the Pharmacy Workforce Center.

“This latest study provides the pharmacy workforce and other stakeholders with information that not only meets the PWC mission, but also provides many opportunities for future research and the development of programs and initiatives to address the evolving needs of the pharmacist workforce.”

Elizabeth Cardello, R.Ph., President of the Pharmacy Workforce Center

The pharmacy profession continues to trend younger in its composition. In 2019, nearly half of practicing pharmacists—47.7 percent—are 40 years old or younger, compared to only 24.4 percent in 2009. This is likely due to the recent growth in pharmacy graduates combined with the 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.

Patients continue to have access to important pharmacists’ services in a variety of settings. Most notably, in 2019, 72 percent of pharmacists reported offering naloxone dispensing in a community setting. This underscores the important and expanding role pharmacists are playing in public health, especially in the ongoing opioid crisis.

Over the past decade there has been a dramatic increase in the percentage of pharmacists that have a Pharm.D. degree. Fifty-three percent of licensed pharmacists have a Pharm.D. in 2019, compared to 37.8 percent in 2014 and 21.6 percent in 2009. This shift indicates that pharmacists with a B.S. degree are likely retiring or moving out of practice and into different roles, which could mean more career opportunities for new pharmacy graduates.

New focus areas addressed in the 2019 survey included professional fulfillment, harassment and discrimination, allowing pharmacists to provide their perception on a variety of challenging issues. When it comes to professional fulfillment amongst full-time pharmacists in the community setting, those working in independent and hospital settings reported higher levels of fulfillment and lower levels of work exhaustion, compared to those working in community chain, mass merchandiser and supermarket work settings. Employers, such as large pharmacy chains and others, should consider how they can boost fulfillment and lower exhaustion amongst their employees, which will lead to retaining a strong workforce. Perhaps there are lessons to be learned from independent and hospital settings who are succeeding at meeting the needs of its personnel.

In 2019, 31 percent of pharmacists reported that they experienced incidents of discrimination, with the most common basis being age followed by gender. The most common type of harassment reported by pharmacists was hearing demeaning comments related to race/ethnicity at 15.7 percent. Only 15.9 percent of all discrimination incidents and 17.2 percent of all harassment incidents were reported to an employer. This information provides a baseline for further investigation and challenges pharmacy employers and other stakeholders to generate discussion and solutions to reduce these incidents and experiences in the future.

This 2019 National Pharmacist Workforce Study (NPWS) provides an update on the pharmacist workforce and examines changes since previous studies done in 2014 and 2009. This is the first time an electronic survey was used. Data were collected using a random sample of 96,100 licensed pharmacists from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. Of those individuals, 94,803 emails were verified as received to an inbox. The response rate to the survey was 5.8 percent.

To view the complete survey results and executive summary, visit the Pharmacy Workforce Center page.

The Pharmacy Workforce Center (PWC), formerly known as the Pharmacy Manpower Project, Inc., is a nonprofit corporation comprised of major national pharmacy professional and trade organizations. Its mission is to serve the public and the pharmacy profession by developing data regarding the size and demography of the pharmacy workforce and conducting and supporting research in related areas.