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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 13, 2006

Pharmacists Assume Increasingly Larger Role In Today's Health Care

Given today's complex pharmaceuticals, and the fact that more patients are selecting non-pharmaceutical options for their own care, the need for a medication expert to help patients manage their drug therapies and avoid interactions and adverse effects is greater than ever. During American Pharmacists Month in October, pharmacists and pharmacy educators nationwide are working to promote their expanded roles in health care.

Pharmacy education and pharmacy practice have evolved over the past decade to become more committed to helping patients make the best use of their medications in addition to accurately and safely dispensing these medications. This transition is captured in the term "pharmaceutical care" and is the paradigm that allows pharmacists to add the most value to patient care.

"Pharmacists are now focused on counseling patients to enhance the effect of their medicines and work as a vital member of the health care team," said Jordan Cohen, Ph.D., dean of the UI College of Pharmacy.

Cohen said the role of pharmacists has changed to meet patients' needs and serve as an important resource for physicians and other prescribers. 

"Pharmacists provide consumers with answers to questions about medications and are also helpful in advising patients on how to save money while ensuring appropriate medication use," Cohen said.

Given the greater role that pharmacists assume today, Cohen advises individuals and families to carefully choose a pharmacy and, if possible, stay with a family pharmacist who can track all medications, vitamins, supplements and over-the-counter products a person is taking.

Cohen noted that the college's doctor of pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program also reflects today's pharmacists' more interactive role. In the fall of 1995, the UI College of Pharmacy implemented the six-year, entry-level Pharm.D. program to new students, replacing its traditional five-year, bachelor-of-science degree. By the fall of 1996 the college established an off-campus, non-traditional Pharm.D. program so that pharmacists in Iowa holding bachelor's degrees also could obtain the Pharm.D. degree.

Close ties and collaboration with the state's practicing pharmacists and the Iowa Pharmacists Association led to the development of a pharmaceutical care initiative that has helped transform pharmacy practice in Iowa. Patient-focused, community pharmacy practice sites provide important clinical training sites for Pharm.D. students, as do family practice medical residency training sites throughout Iowa, where full-time faculty from the college are now positioned. These faculty members directly support collegiate and outreach programs throughout the state to better serve both pharmacists and Iowans.

In 2004, the UI College of Pharmacy and the UI College of Public Health began offering a dual-degree program that allows students to earn both Pharm.D. and master of public health (M.P.H.) degrees. Students in the program gain knowledge in public health related to pharmacotherapy, health promotion, disease prevention and medication safety.

"The Pharm. D. program provides the in-depth education and training to enable pharmacists to be true drug experts and work with others on the health care team, as well as patients and their families," Cohen said.

To help promote American Pharmacists Month in October, UI pharmacy students are hosting free diabetes screenings, a "Brown Bag" medication review and a health fair. More information is available at

For more information on American Pharmacists Month please visit the American Pharmacists Association Web site at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5139 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: David Pedersen, 319-335-8032, Writer: Krystal Loewe.