The Pharmacist Workforce in the US: Supply, Distribution, Education Pathways, and State Responses to Emergency Surges in Demand

Authors: Natalia Oster, PhD, MPH | Samantha Pollack, MHS | Susan Skillman, MS | Benjamin Stubbs, MPH | Arati Dahal, PhD | Grace Guenther, MPA | Bianca Frogner, PhD

Topics: COVID-19, Education and Training, Scope of Practice (SOP), Workforce Supply

Research Center: University of Washington Center for Health Workforce Studies

November 5, 2020

Pharmacists provide a broad spectrum of services depending on their practice setting and scope-of-practice laws within their state. Lately, pharmacists have been increasingly used in a variety of ways, taking on roles such as medication therapy management, chronic disease management, patient education, health promotion, and disease prevention. To take on this surge in demand, states are increasing the supply of pharmacists via re-activating licenses for pharmacists who recently left practice, expediting student transition into practice, and emergency authorization of out-of-state license reciprocity.

This brief describes state variation in the supply of pharmacists as well as how pharmacists are responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

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University of Washington Center for Health Workforce Studies