Illustration by George Folz, © 2019 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System
Pharmacy practice is, by its very nature, interprofessional. Pharmacists who practice in hospitals, clinics, community pharmacies, and elsewhere collaborate on a regular basis with an array of other health professionals. As medication experts, they advocate for the safe and effective use of medications on behalf of patients, families, and caregivers, often with a focus on minimizing costs to make improvements in health outcomes possible. Such advocacy requires an impressive depth of knowledge about medications and medication use, which is built upon a solid foundation of topics taught in Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) curricula ranging from biochemistry, medicinal chemistry, and pharmacology to pharmacotherapy, patient safety, and pharmacy law.1 To work effectively with other health professionals in a team environment, pharmacists must be knowledgeable about other team members’ capabilities and contributions to patient care. Additionally, they must possess strong interpersonal and communication skills. This chapter will explore the landscape of interprofessional practice, the unique roles and responsibilities pharmacists play as members of interprofessional teams, and the impact of pharmacists’ contributions to team-based care on health outcomes.
The World Health Organization defines interprofessional practice as:
When multiple health workers from different professional backgrounds work together with patients, families, carers, and communities to deliver the highest quality of care.2
For context, the term caregiver, as opposed to carer, is more commonly used in the United States. It is important to note that this definition of interprofessional practice has been endorsed and adopted throughout the United States, and it is an expectation that all PharmD students will be adequately prepared for success in this area prior to graduation.1 Such preparation is called interprofessional education, which involves individuals from two or more professions learning about, from, and with each other to develop knowledge, skills, and attitudes conducive to effective teamwork to improve health outcomes.2–4 Emphasis on interprofessional practice and education, thus, is not unique to pharmacy. In fact, it is a national movement that has been embraced throughout the health professions on both the educational and practice sides of the healthcare sector.5–10 What is unique to pharmacy, however, is the education and training of pharmacists. As medication experts on the team, pharmacists are uniquely prepared to advocate for the safe and effective use of one of the most important and widely used tools to improve health.
Nearly 80% of all medical treatments in the United States involve the use of medications.11 By 2021, it is estimated that approximately 5 billion prescriptions will be filled each year.12 Many different types of health professionals, referred to as prescribers, order medications to treat patients and write prescriptions for them to take at home; this includes dentists, nurse practitioners, physicians, and physician assistants across countless ...