Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Factors Affecting Prepharmacy Students' Perceptions of the Professional Role of Pharmacists

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Factors Affecting Prepharmacy Students' Perceptions of the Professional Role of Pharmacists

Article excerpt


Admission to pharmacy school has become a competitive process, with GPA being one of the many factors assessed. (1-4) With the increasing number of applications to colleges and schools of pharmacy, admissions committees are challenged to determine each student's qualifications, including previous work experience, extracurricular activities, and interviews, all of which are incorporated into the final evaluation to determine student admission offers.

Accreditation Standards set by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) reflect the importance of training pharmacy students to provide patient-centered care. (5) The patient-centered care model (pharmaceutical care model) focuses primarily on the patient in health care provision to improve quality of life. (6) In a patient-centered model, patients become active participants in their own care, and receive services designed to address their individual needs and preferences, in addition to advice and counsel from health professionals. In response to the standards, the focus of the pharmacy curriculum has shifted from medication dispensing tasks toward patient-centered care. (5,7) Therefore, as part of the admissions criteria, pharmacy schools should consider whether candidates' attitudes and behavioral traits reflect the ability to provide patient-centered care. (6,9)

Because admissions committees want to select students who will provide patient-centered care as future professionals, an assessment of attitudes and intention to perform patient-centered services is needed. At many colleges and schools of pharmacy, the admissions committees often recommend that students acquire experience in a pharmacy setting prior to applying to the doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) program. As a result, many students have experience in a hospital or community pharmacy setting before entering pharmacy school. (8,10) Work experience is a factor influencing student attitudes toward pharmaceutical care, career aspirations, and application to pharmacy school. (8,10-15) In a study by Siracuse and colleagues, work experience was positively associated with career aspirations of becoming a patient care pharmacist. (13) In a study by Duncan-Hewitt, students' commitment to the pharmacy profession and willingness to accept more responsibility were related to the desire to provide patient-centered care. (16) These results suggest admissions committees may need to consider factors beyond traditional admissions criteria (eg, GPA) in selecting those students most likely to provide patient-centered care. If pharmacy admissions committees want to select individuals with a patient-centered focus, information regarding student attitudes and traits associated with the patient-centered model is needed.

The theory of planned behavior was used as the theoretical framework for this study. In this theory, the relationship between attitudes, subjective norm, and perceived behavioral control is described as the underlying foundational belief about the intention to perform specific behaviors. (17) In this study, patient-centered care was the specific foundational behavior. The theory of planned behavior uses 3 independent determinants of intention: (1) attitude, which is the favorable/unfavorable evaluation of the behavior; (2) subjective norm, which is the perceived social pressure to perform/not perform a behavior; and (3) perceived behavioral control, which is an individual's perception of the ease or difficulty of performing a behavior. Essentially, the theory of planned behavior suggests that behavior is a function of beliefs relevant to the behavior. (17) Attitudes toward the professional role of providing patient-centered care, subjective norm with respect to the perceived social pressure placed on performing the professional role, and perceived control over the professional role should predict behavioral intentions with a high degree of accuracy. (17)

Professional commitment was used as a construct in addition to the theory of planned behavior. …

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