Letter to the editor
With the implementation of the new health care law, millions of patients will receive health insurance in 2014, and the demand for primary care services will continue to rise. Unfortunately, surveys show that fewer physicians are entering primary care. Some projections estimate shortages of up to 45,000 primary care physicians by 2025. With these expected shortages, other health care professionals must rise to meet the nation’s health care needs.
Across the country, pharmacists already provide primary care services and improve patients’ health in collaboration with physicians and other providers. Pharmacists receive six to eight years of professional training centered on medications. After pharmacy school, pharmacists may choose to complete a one- to two-year residency program to advance their practice skills. Pharmacists work in the community, hospitals, physician offices and other specialty practices to provide medication-related support to the health care team.
The U.S. Surgeon General signed a letter of support in December of 2011 to recognize pharmacists as health care providers in health care reform. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently recognized the vital role pharmacists play in the management of chronic diseases. Both acknowledge pharmacists for their participation in the management and prevention of chronic health problems, and their ability to increase access to primary care services. In our opinion, better utilization of pharmacists as an essential part of the health care team can help resolve the primary care crisis our country faces.
The American Pharmacists Association, the largest organization of pharmacists in the United States, recognizes October as American Pharmacists Month. Currently, pharmacists are not acknowledged as health care providers within health care reform. In support of your local pharmacists, we ask you to sign the petition below to recognize pharmacists as health care providers: http://www.change.org/petitions/the-president-of-the-united-states-recognize-pharmacists-as-health-care-providers. Know your pharmacist, know your medicine.
The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy Residents