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Monday, June 10th 2002

The Honorable Tom Daschle
Majority Leader
United States Senate
S-221 Capitol Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Mr. Majority Leader:

On behalf of the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), we are writing to ask your help in addressing a worsening shortage of pharmacists at our nation's hospitals. The demand for qualified pharmacists in hospitals and other health care sectors has never been greater, and unlike previous periodic shortages, the current situation is long-term, broader and more severe. It reflects growing demand for health care services, shifting demographics, a change in career expectations and attitudes about work, and worker dissatisfaction within health care.

A recent study by the AHA's Commission on Workforce for Hospitals and Health Systems reported the following bleak facts:

  • 46% of our nation's hospitals are experiencing a shortage of pharmacists;
  • hospitals have average vacancy rates for pharmacists of 12.7%;
  • between 1999 and 2001, 53% of hospitals report having a more difficult time recruiting pharmacists than in previous years;
  • the number of pharmacy graduates has not kept pace with the demand that has resulted from 20 years worth of population growth.

While hospitals are taking internal steps to address the workforce shortage, they cannot do it alone. We urge you to help us by working toward legislative and other solutions that would help colleges and schools of pharmacy increase capacity, improve access to scholarships for people interested in pursuing a pharmacy education, and enhance the geographic distribution of pharmacists in both rural and urban hospitals.

Funding for these crucial initiatives must come from additional dollars above current obligations, rather than through a redistributive approach. Programs to make hospitals the "employer of choice" come at a significant cost. Federal support to ensure an adequate health care workforce is essential to the future of our nation's hospitals.

Pharmacists play a vital role in the delivery of health care. We urge you to help us ensure that this critical shortage does not lead to a crisis in care.

Rick Pollack
Executive Vice President
American Hospital Association
Richard P. Penna, Pharm.D
Executive Vice President
American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy

The following letter was also sent to Sen. Trent Lott, Rep. Dennis Hastert and Rep. Richard Gephardt

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