Date of Award

Fall 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Pharmacy Practice

First Advisor

Matthew M. Murawski

Committee Member 1

Kimberly S. Plake

Committee Member 2

Mangala Subramaniam


In unstable environments, adaptation is a prerequisite for survival of organizations or groups. The Affordable Care Act has created a changing environment for health care providers. Unfortunately for Pharmacy, innovation within our profession has languished, leaving pharmacists in a precarious position. Many have noted the stagnation of the profession; in fact it has been a recurring theme in the commentary over the last five decades. The dialogue has focused on the externalities that represent barriers to the profession's evolution, including the direction change should take and the legal or organizational issues that inhibit change and innovation. Little attention has been given to the characteristics of the profession's members that may inhibit change, adoption, or innovation of new ideas. The lack of understanding of the professional's or future professional's propensity for change and innovation is an important gap in current knowledge.

The objectives of this study were to determine whether current or future student pharmacists have more negative attitudes towards change and risk than a non-pharmacy population, whether these attitudes change as individual's progress through the pharmacy program, and whether these attitudes differ by individual career intentions. Electronic surveys administered to student pharmacists at seven schools. Demographic information and six scales assessing personality characteristics and attitudes known to reflect attitudes towards change/risk were collected from respondents.

The response rate was 37.2 percent. Compared to population norms for each scale, respondents had greater openness to or more positive attitudes towards change in general, but more negative attitude towards change in the workplace. Respondents had negative attitudes towards risk in general and were not likely to take everyday risks. When comparing types of risk, respondents favored instrumental risk decisions more than stimulating risk decisions. Respondents were less open to new experiences and more conscientious. Differences in attitudes towards everyday risk taking and attitudes towards change in the workplace were the only characteristics that showed change between years in the program and career intentions.

Current and future student pharmacists show personality and attitude profiles consistent with the hypothesis. Negative attitudes towards change and risk can make it difficult to create an environment where innovation is easily cultivated and adopted. Understanding these potential barriers to moving the profession forward can help guide the profession in designing new programs to better meet the stability needs of pharmacists while stimulating evolution of new pharmacy models.