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Press Release

Pharmacy Leadership Positions Hardest to Fill in Nation's Hospitals, Health Systems

Health systems across the nation are struggling to fill their open pharmacy manager positions, according to the latest staffing survey conducted by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Conducted annually, the study found that 36 percent of those surveyed believe that there are severe shortages of health-system pharmacy directors and assistant directors.

The survey of more than 2,900 pharmacy directors in the nation’s hospitals and health systems also found that the average vacancy rate for pharmacists in 2004 is 5 percent, a continuation of a downward trend since 2000 when the mean vacancy rate was 8.9 percent.

Small hospitals, especially those with less than 100 beds, are experiencing ongoing staffing challenges with higher pharmacist vacancy and turnover rates than large hospitals in the U.S.  Turnover rates among pharmacy staff in small hospitals (one to 99 beds) were 12.5 percent compared to 5.4 percent in large hospitals (400 or more); small hospitals make up 44 percent of all hospitals in the U.S.

“The survey findings show an encouraging trend in terms of pharmacist recruitment and retention in the nation’s hospitals and health systems,” said Douglas J. Scheckelhoff, M.S., FASHP, Director, ASHP Pharmacy Practice Sections.  “However, we’re concerned that leadership positions within hospital and health-system pharmacies are going unfilled—these are critical posts from which pharmacists can direct the safe, effective medication use policies within their institutions.” 

ASHP has long taken an active role in promoting leadership within the profession, including hosting an annual Leadership Conference on Pharmacy Practice Management and sponsoring a scholar-in-residence who developed actionable recommendations on the topic of pharmacy leadership. Perhaps most significantly, ASHP is currently working with a major university to create a Center for Health-System Pharmacy Leadership that will groom current and future pharmacy department leaders.

Pharmacy directors at 517 hospitals and health systems throughout the U.S. answered questions about vacancy levels, available positions, and the supply of qualified pharmacists.  The survey also examined the impact of vacancies and turnover on job satisfaction, the number of residency-trained pharmacists in each institution, and pharmacy technician vacancy rates.

To obtain a copy of the survey, go to

To find out more about issues affecting health-system pharmacy administration, go to

For more than 60 years, ASHP has helped pharmacists who practice in hospitals and health systems improve medication use and enhance patient safety. The Society’s 30,000 members include pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who practice in inpatient, outpatient, home-care, and long-term-care settings, as well as pharmacy students. For more information about the wide array of ASHP activities and the many ways in which pharmacists help people make the best use of medicines, visit ASHP's Web site,, or its consumer Web site,