Guiding Principles for Student Leadership Development in the Doctor of Pharmacy Program to Assist Administrators and Faculty Members in Implementing or Refining Curricula

Article excerpt


The need for leadership instruction in pharmacy education has been articulated by multiple pharmacy groups over many years. (1-6) The Oath of a Pharmacist indirectly supports the need for leadership instruction by calling on pharmacists to serve others and "embrace and advocate changes that improve patient care." (2) The positions of many stakeholders have evolved, beginning in the early 1980s, to call for expanded curricula and leadership skill development in students. (1)

Starting in 2000, professional organizations have individually and collectively released white papers that address leadership. The American College of Clinical Pharmacy vision of pharmacy's future included the stance that all pharmacists must become agents of change. (3) The American Pharmaceutical Association Academy of Students of Pharmacy-American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) Council of Deans Task Force on Professionalism White Paper included leadership as 1 of the 10 traits of a professional and called on students, faculty members, and educational programs to focus on developing professionalism. (4)

Support for the need for leadership instruction for all students strengthened starting in 2009 with the Argus Commission and American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Foundation Reports calling for leadership development in all students out of professional obligation. (5,6)

AACP's 2011 strategic plan aimed to put this ideology to action through the development of curricula and programs that enable and empower students to be leaders. (7) In addition, ACPE's update to the Standards and Guidelines 2.0 included Guideline 9.3 calling for the curriculum to foster the development of students as leaders and agents of change. (8)

While these positions were developing, examples of leadership development initiatives, courses, and related programming covering various topics such as self-development, (9) advocacy, (10,11) team building (12) and leading change (13) began to appear in the pharmacy literature. While each is valuable, there are noted differences in topic coverage, scope, and time in the curriculum that raise a need for an educational framework.

The tasks involved in developing leadership curricula require significant investment by schools and faculty members. Time must be allocated for instruction; instructional resources must be acquired; frameworks of instruction must be developed; faculty members may have to develop expertise in topics or teaching methods; and assessment must occur to show achievement of leadership-related competencies. These significant investments can be better conceptualized with a set of guiding principles that address issues such as the reasons to engage in leadership development, the extent of efforts required, and the content educators and students should understand.

The aim of this study was to gather expert opinion to assist administrators and faculty members in colleges and schools of pharmacy in framing, directing, and supporting the large investments needed for leadership development programs for student pharmacists. In addition, the connections of this work to additional literature validated the statements and provided resources for understanding and communicating these results to other faculty members, stakeholders, and students.


The Delphi process is a qualitative technique that requests and refines the collective thoughts and opinions of a panel of experts. Using multiple "rounds," data are collected from the participants, summarized, and presented back to the participants to obtain feedback and measure agreement or disagreement. (14-19) Developed by the Rand corporation in the 1950s, the Delphi was used as a qualitative, long-range forecasting technique (20) and method for improved decision making. (21) The Delphi process has been used in health professions education for identification of training needs (22) and competencies. …


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