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Cindy Gutierrez, PharmD, BCPP, AAPP President


As we start a new year, it is heartening that our society is beginning to recognize that whole health begins with mental health. However, as the need for mental health care grows, it is clear that the mental health workforce is inadequate. AAPP continues to beat the drum through our communications and initiatives that psychiatric pharmacists are already, and can be even more so, part of the solution to the workforce shortage.

One indicator we point to is growth in the number of psychiatric pharmacists. Our Resident and New Practitioner Committee biennial survey of PGY2 Psychiatric Pharmacy Residency Program Directors provides a glimpse into the trajectory of the profession where we see:

  • 91% of PGY2 residency positions filling in 2022.
  • 94% of graduating residents accepting positions with >75% psychiatric focus and 84% with 100% focus in psychiatry.
  • 77% of those securing a position even before residency completion.

Declining pharmacy student numbers and declining residency applicant numbers are certainly concerning. However, it is encouraging that the number of psychiatric pharmacy trainees is growing, as are the number of BCPPs, now over 1500.

Our goal at AAPP is for continued expansion of psychiatric pharmacist positions. Advocating for and demonstrating how psychiatric pharmacy can increase access to care and be part of the workforce solution is central to AAPP’s strategic plan. Our volunteers and staff have developed member impact profiles and are working to launch an employer resource center over the coming year. We have established a vision for the future of the profession and are working on research grants, resources, and specific publications that bring the vision to life and showcase the versatility and importance of the psychiatric pharmacist.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Equally important to AAPP’s advocacy work is the growth of the field through education and professional development focused on advancing the knowledge and skills of psychiatric pharmacists. Here, we are looking both at current knowledge gaps and at the future as we monitor clinical practice for emerging trends and prepare current and aspiring psychiatric pharmacists for future responsibilities and roles. Thanks to the contributions of our Resident and New Practitioner Committee, we see current examples within this newsletter of members who have carved out expanded roles in the treatment of substance use disorders as well as pain management. Our new Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Committee is slated to start spring of 2023, and it will work to operationalize the strategic plan objectives below to further support psychiatric pharmacists as they embrace critical roles in rapidly evolving health care systems.

Goal: Monitor emerging technologies, medications, practice models, research, and gaps in patient care in order to advance psychiatric pharmacy practice and enhance patient care.

Objective 1. Develop resources and programming that address current challenges facing psychiatric pharmacists, including dual mental health and substance use disorders exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic; interrelationships between pain and psychiatric disorders; and public health issues surrounding psychiatric disorders.

Objective 2. Develop a process to monitor clinical practice for emerging technologies, medications, practice models, research, and gaps in patient care.

Objective 3. Identify subject matter experts (SMEs) and track member proficiency related to emerging practice areas.

Objective 4. Develop a framework for how AAPP prioritizes resource allocation to evolving practice areas.

Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

Many of the strategic planning puzzle pieces are starting to come together thanks to the numerous volunteers and staff members engaged in pushing the envelope day-after-day. The central piece to our research, CPD, publications, and numerous other initiatives is you, the member. We need to identify and engage more of you in our work, and we need to be able to find you. For that reason, we are launching a Subject Matter Expert database. This SME database is relevant to you if:

  1. You want to be a speaker for AAPP.
  2. You want to be an author for a BCPP Recertification product or AAPP toolkit.
  3. You want to represent AAPP and the specialty with regulators and policymakers.
  4. You are a researcher, and you want to contribute to our ongoing research efforts.

If you are interested in any of those roles, we need to capture more information about your areas of expertise, specialization, and your volunteer preferences. Please carve out 15 minutes of your time to create your SME entry and upload a current CV. Continue to the SME database.

It is the strength of our efforts and our collective voices that will allow us to move the needle to ensure psychiatric pharmacists are seen as one of the solutions in a society where need is great and the evolution of mental health care and the health care system is rapid.

As I was writing this article, I was reminded of a great quote by Ken Blanchard, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” Help us to keep moving the needle in 2023 by offering your time and talent through our SME database. Happy New Year!

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