Pharmacists confront AMA's 'scope creep' stance

The American Medical Association has long been advocating against what it calls "scope creep," or nonphysicians gaining expanded scopes of practice. On Feb. 16, two pharmacist associations fired back

An AMA article in early February said bills seeking to allow pharmacists to diagnose patients based on test results could impede patient care, reasoning that physicians train more than six times longer than pharmacists in clinical settings. It also argued pharmacists aren't taught to diagnose or provide care for a patient's life cycle. 

Michael Hogue, PharmD, executive vice president and CEO of the American Pharmacists Association, and Lee Vermeulen, executive vice president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, called the post "out of touch" and is asking the AMA to retract it.

"AMA has become a bully: unprofessional, completely disconnected from reality and intent on getting their way no matter what is in the best interest of patients," Dr. Hogue and Mr. Vermeulen wrote. 

The two said the organization's post is incorrect because pharmacists are trained to assess patients and provide care "from infants to seniors." They added that about 1 in 3 pharmacists have completed at least one year of postgraduate residency, and 60,000 of the nation's 340,000 pharmacists are board certified among 14 clinical specialties. 

The AMA, which has more than 200,000 members, said pharmacists are overburdened with their current workload, but the APhA and AACP leaders said pharmacists can help patients who can't access primary care physicians because of workforce shortages.

AMA also advocates against increasing scopes of practice for advanced practice registered nurses, nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, optometrists, physician assistants and psychologists.

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