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Press Release

ASHP, AACP Help Secure Federal Funds to Attract Pharmacists to Understaffed Indian Health Service

- Working in close collaboration, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) recently secured federal funding to address pharmacist shortages within the Indian Health Service (IHS). The FY 2000 Interior Appropriations bill, signed into law yesterday by President Bill Clinton, provides $400,000 to support the creation of 12 to 14 pharmacy residency training programs within the IHS.

To secure this funding, AACP and ASHP educated members of Congress on the importance of solving the IHS pharmacist shortage, which denies American Indians and Alaska natives - who are among the most medically underserved populations in the nation - access to desperately needed pharmacist patient care services. Currently, there are nearly 60 funded full-time positions for licensed pharmacists that the IHS cannot fill because of the high salaries and more desirable locations offered in the private sector. The IHS provides health care services for American Indians and Alaska natives throughout the United States. 

"This appropriation represents an important health victory for native Americans," said Richard P. Penna, Pharm.D., AACP executive vice president. "This funding is an important step both toward relieving the pharmacist staffing deficit within the HIS and for improving the health of native Americans." 

The funds will be used to support the infrastructure costs associated with establishing new residency programs at designated IHS facilities. Creating these new residency programs will help attract licensed pharmacists who wish to advance their clinical skills through post-graduate training. Currently, the IHS provides Indian Health Service only two pharmacy residency training programs. Currently, ASHP-accredited residencies offer training to almost 900 residents. Nonetheless, last year almost 300 pharmacy school graduates and pharmacists were unable to secure a position in an ASHP-accredited program since the number of available residency positions fell short of applicant demand. ASHP, the accrediting body for pharmacy residency programs, is engaged in a multifaceted initiative to expand residency training programs. Presently, there are 467 residency programs with accreditation or pending accreditation. 

"Residency-trained pharmacists are vital for safe and effective use of medications, especially among high risk patients," said Henri R. Manasse, Jr., Ph.D., Sc.D., ASHP executive vice president and chief executive officer. "Working within the IHS, pharmacy residents will participate directly in clinical decisions regarding medications and play a crucial role in ensuring that patients obtain the best outcomes from their medications." 

ASHP is the 30,000-member national professional association that represents pharmacists who practice in hospitals, health maintenance organizations, long-term care facilities, home care, and other components of health care systems. ASHP believes that the mission of pharmacists is to help people make the best use of medications. Assisting pharmacists in fulfilling this mission is ASHP's primary objective. The Society has extensive publishing and educational programs designed to help members improve their delivery of pharmaceutical care, and it is the national accrediting organization for pharmacy residency and pharmacy technician training programs. 

AACP, the national organization representing and supporting all U.S. colleges and schools of pharmacy and their faculties, is committed to education and scholarship for improving drug therapy.