Pharmacy education growing rapidly, easing workforce shortages

The landscape for pharmacy education has changed dramatically in recent years, as rapid growth in new schools and student enrollment has eased state and regional workforce shortages, according to a new report from the University of California.

“An Era of Growth and Change: A Closer Look at Pharmacy Education and Practice” follows a report UC issued last May examining growth and recent trends in health professions education.

Enrollment in pharmacy education programs has increased significantly, following a nationwide pharmacist shortage that developed in the late 1990s. National trends now suggest that the supply of pharmacists is growing much faster than previously projected. Since 2005, the number of accredited U.S. pharmacy schools has increased by 48 percent, from 87 to 129, with most of the growth occurring at private institutions.

“Enrollment in pharmacy education programs has grown substantially in the past decade — faster than the previous 25 to 30 years,” said Cathryn Nation, M.D., UC associate vice president for health sciences. “This report will be an important tool for policymakers and higher education leaders, highlighting trends that will inform efforts to address the challenges posed by health care reform, an aging population and the ongoing demand for pharmacy services.”

In particular, California has been home to significant growth in pharmacy education. Since 2002, four new pharmacy schools have opened in the state, doubling the number of programs in California from four to eight over the past decade. Other institutions appear interested in opening new pharmacy schools in California within the next few years.

Highlights of the report include:

  • Demand for pharmacists in California is beginning to fall in balance with the state’s growing supply of pharmacists.
  • Significant growth in pharmacy educational opportunities has occurred throughout California, with the majority of enrollment increases happening at private institutions.
  • California faces a shortage of well-qualified faculty to train future pharmacists.
  • Disparities in health status, changing demographics and the evolving roles of pharmacists in health care delivery will require increased diversity and cultural competence of the workforce.
  • There is a substantial mismatch between the number of residency training positions available and increasing student interest (pharmacy residency positions are post-graduate, advanced training positions that are available following completion of a Pharm.D. degree).

The report includes findings about California’s educational programs and recommendations relevant to the UC system, which operates two pharmacy schools: UC San Francisco, ranked as the nation’s top pharmacy school by U.S. News & World Report, and UC San Diego, whose pharmacy school opened in 2002.

“As we look to the future, pharmacy education must remain relevant and aligned with the needs of patients,” said B. Joseph Guglielmo, Pharm.D., dean of the UCSF School of Pharmacy. “This report provides an overview of the pharmacy landscape and a valuable resource for the UC system and our colleagues throughout the state.”

The UC system operates the nation’s largest health sciences instructional program, with 17 professional schools in seven major health professions, including pharmacy education. UC’s two pharmacy schools accounted for 182 (approximately 21 percent) of California’s 849 graduating pharmacy students in 2011.

California pharmacy schools

Public schools/institutions
UC San Francisco
UC San Diego (first class admitted in 2002)

Private schools/institutions
University of the Pacific
University of Southern California
Western University of Health Sciences
Loma Linda University (first class admitted in 2002)
Touro University (first class admitted in 2005)
California Northstate University (first class admitted in 2008)

University of California Health includes five academic health centers with 10 hospitals and 17 health professional schools in seven fields on seven UC campuses — UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Riverside, UC San Diego and UC San Francisco.

Additional contacts
UC San Francisco
Kristen Bole
(415) 502-6397 (NEWS)

UC San Diego
Jacqueline Carr
(619) 543-6427

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Pharmacy education growing rapidly, easing workforce shortages
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