Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

A Five-State Continuing Professional Development Pilot Program for Practicing Pharmacists

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

A Five-State Continuing Professional Development Pilot Program for Practicing Pharmacists

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Pharmacy practice in the United States is regulated by boards of pharmacy in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico. Requirements for initial licensure and maintenance of licensure differ to some extent, but all 53 boards require pharmacists to complete a defined number of hours of board-approved continuing education (CE) to maintain their license. (1) Similar regulatory approaches for continuing education apply in the majority of health professions. (2) Participation in CE activities provides a measure of assurance that practitioners are maintaining and updating their professional knowledge, and serves as a proxy for assuring ongoing competence to practice. Board of pharmacy requirements are summarized in annual surveys of pharmacy law published by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). The most common requirement is 15 hours (minimum) of CE per licensure year (47 of 53 boards); the range being 10 to 20 hours. Twenty-eight boards have additional requirements regarding format (eg, a minimum number of "live" hours of CE) or content (eg, pharmacy law). All boards recognize educational activities offered by CE providers accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE); some accept accredited continuing medical education (CME) or accredited continuing nursing education (CNE); and some have an evaluation process or criteria for board approval of CE activities.

State-mandated CE for pharmacists was first introduced in Florida (1965), although the idea was discussed in the early 1940s. (3) In the mid-1970s, NABP adopted a resolution on mandatory CE for re-licensure, and the American Pharmaceutical Association-American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (APhA-AACP) Task Force on Continuing Competence in Pharmacy (197274) concluded that CE was the best available mechanism for assuring pharmacists' ongoing proficiency. (4) In 1974, the APhA Board of Trustees recommended that ACPE be requested to develop a system of accreditation for CE, and the following year ACPE introduced accreditation standards for CE providers. ACPE accredits providers of CE rather than individual CE activities. In subsequent years, as more states introduced mandatory CE requirements, the number of providers accredited by ACPE increased to approximately 400.

Following the findings and conclusions of the 19721974 Task Force on Continuing Competence in Pharmacy, it was agreed that the purpose of CE for pharmacists and other health professionals was the improvement of patient care and health maintenance and the enrichment of health careers. (5) It was stressed that CE structures being implemented at that time should be recognized as "transitional mechanisms to be used until means are developed to evaluate the competence of the individual pharmacist in the performance of his [sic] professional responsibilities." Additionally: "It is this competence to perform, which will not be the same for each type of pharmaceutical practice, that eventually must be measured and evaluated." (4)

For over 30 years, approaches to CE and assurance of competency for pharmacists have remained largely unchanged. The same is likely to be true in other health professions. While CE can be effective in both learning and practice change, there is a growing body of evidence (primarily from the CME literature) that CE can be more successful in these areas if the educational activities are: in an area of interest or preference; related to daily practice; selected in response to identified need; interactive, hands-on; use more than 1 intervention; continuing not opportunistic; self-directed (in content and context); focused on specific outcomes/objectives; use "reflection"; and include a commitment to change by the learner. (6-8) Continuing education providers, practitioners, and regulators have not yet pervasively adopted such strategies, even though there have been calls for an overhaul of the continuing education of healthcare professionals. …

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