The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) is the largest national professional society of pharmacists, representing the interests of the third largest health profession. Since its founding in 1852, APhA has been a leader in the professional and scientific advancement of pharmacy, and in safeguarding the well being of the individual patient.
In the last quarter century, pharmacy has expanded its role within the health care delivery system from a profession focusing on preparation and dispensing of medications to patients to one in which pharmacists provide a wide range of patient-oriented services to maximize the medicine's effectiveness.
Pharmacy is practiced in a wide range of settings: community pharmacies, hospitals, long term care facilities, the pharmaceutical industry, mail service, managed care, and government (Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, Indian Health Service, Public Health Service). A survey identified 112,000 pharmacists in community pharmacy (66,000 in chains; 46,000 in independents), 40,000 in hospitals, and 21,000 in consulting, government, academic, industry and other settings.
Historically, educational requirements for pharmacists included the choice of two entry-level degrees: a five-year Bachelor of Science in pharmacy (BS Pharmacy) or a six-year Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD). However, as of the year 2000, most schools of pharmacy began offering only the PharmD degree. This extensive training makes the pharmacist the most knowledgeable health care professional when it comes to medicines and their use.
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