The Pharm.D. system-A reality check

August 21, 2006

Pharmacists are still divided over whether the mandate to drop the B.S. degree was a bad call

Pharmacists are still divided over whether the mandate to drop the B.S. degree was a bad call

More than five years after the mandate became final, pharmacists are still divided over the wisdom of the switch to the all-Pharm.D. and its impact on the profession, according to an exclusive on-line survey conducted by Drug Topics. The 488 pharmacist respondents included those with B.S., traditional Pharm.D., nontraditional Pharm.D., and other degrees. While 66% of them work in hospitals, their responses were not significantly different from those of chain and independent pharmacists.

Requiring the Pharm.D. was a misstep because pharmacists with a B.S. degree are capable of meeting the needs of community pharmacy practice, according to 42% of our respondents. Another 25% think the Pharm.D. should be reserved for practitioners in clinical positions. And 23% agree that the extra year made the pharmacist manpower shortage even worse. The 11% who cited some other reasons the switch was not a good idea included several who feel the doctoral degree has been "watered down."

"It cheapens the Pharm.D. title when everyone has to be a Pharm.D., even pure dispensing pharmacists," said a traditional Pharm.D. respondent. "The old Pharm.D. degree made candidates stand out because they had advanced skills, but this weakened it," commented a B.S. pharmacist.