'We're training our kids for jobs that won't exist': Community Health Systems director of pharmacy on the industry's changing landscape

Terry Baughman, regional director of pharmacy for Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems, has 45 years of experience in the pharmacy industry. Starting his career at a pharmacy management company, he went on to spend 10 years teaching pharmacists how to become directors of pharmacy.

He recently spoke with Becker's Hospital Review about changes in the industry he would never have predicted when he started his career and passed along advice for his fellow pharmacy leaders.

Here's what he had to say:

Editor's Note: Responses were lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: What drug-pricing reforms should pharmacy leaders pay attention to and why?

Terry Baughman: When I started practicing 45 years ago we never dreamed of a $1,000 drug. Now, you've got $100,000 drugs. Whatever the policies are that would come into play that will mitigate and moderate those top-end drug prices, I think are going to have a big dollar effect.

Q: What major changes in pharmacy have you seen in recent years that you would have never expected when you started in the industry?

TB: The demographics of pharmacists have changed. The practice of pharmacy has gone from a five-year education to an eight-year education, and that has lots of ramifications financially on the workforce itself. There are also many more pharmacy schools now than when I went to school. The down side to that is, they're graduating more pharmacists than there are jobs. What we've seen in the last few years, and what we will see accelerate, is something I never had to deal with in my career, and that is students are coming out of school, and they can't find a job. That has a real impact on the profession as a whole. Pharmacists who have jobs are much less willing to relocate or move because they have little assurance they will be able to find another job, and that continues to further have a negative effect on kids coming out of school. Additionally, the recession that we had in 2008 wiped out a sizable amount of our retirement funds, and that's pushed pharmacists to work longer than they would have normally, which further reduces the amount of positions for students coming out of school.

Q: How is your organization improving medication accessibility for patients?

TB: We don't qualify for 340B because we're a for-profit organization, so we can't procure drugs less expensively than a not-for-profit can. What we can do is be good stewards of the medications, make sure we monitor our inventories and that we have access to medications to be able to serve our patients.

Q: If you could pass along a piece of advice to another hospital pharmacy leader, what would it be?

TB: Things are going to change dramatically in the next 30 years. Only 20 percent of the available pharmacy jobs are in hospital settings and 60 percent are in retail settings. The dilemma is, you have students who spend six to eight years learning how to be a junior physician, and their practice comfort area is a hospital. It isn't a CVS or Walgreens or Walmart. We're training our kids for jobs that won't exist in 10 or 12 years. As a manager, I'd be looking for ways to expand services outside the four walls of the hospital pharmacy. Managers today need to train staff to do things they really didn't think they'd be doing when they came out of school.

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