Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Competencies for Student Leadership Development in Doctor of Pharmacy Curricula to Assist Curriculum Committees and Leadership Instructors

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Competencies for Student Leadership Development in Doctor of Pharmacy Curricula to Assist Curriculum Committees and Leadership Instructors

Article excerpt


Guideline 9.3 of the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education's (ACPE) Accreditation Standards and Guidelines for the Professional Program in Pharmacy Leading to the Doctor of Pharmacy Degree states that "the college or school curriculum should foster the development of students as leaders and agents of change." (1) More specifically, the standards state that "The curriculum should ... develop the ability to use tools and strategies needed to affect positive change in pharmacy practice and health care delivery." (1) The focus of leadership development is directed at abilities related to affecting positive change. In the context of curricular change, members of the academy supported the notion that "student pharmacists must develop the skills and desire to create positive change in their current and future practices." (2)

To operationalize these accreditation guidelines, educators can draw upon previous work in the leadership development literature. Reports describing courses, (3,4) a retreat, (5) an institute, (6) and practice experiences (7) have been published describing student leadership development in pharmacy. In addition, the student leadership development literature outside of the profession provides numerous articles on instructional methods, resources, and assessment.

While the available literature provides direction, it does not define the desired competencies needed for student pharmacists. Defining competencies is necessary to focus the development of leadership learning opportunities, identify appropriate learning assessments, and define program evaluation. In fact, the value of defining competencies in health professions education has been described as "creat[ing] an environment that fosters empowerment, accountability, and performance evaluation which is consistent and equitable." (8)

In pharmacy, groups of experts have been called together to define competencies in areas such as clinical pharmacy, (9) and oncology pharmacy practice. (10) Expert groups have also been used to define competencies in leadership. In 2000, the National Public Health Leadership Network defined 79 leadership competencies for public health professionals. They recommended that the work guide curriculum content and module development, as well as performance measures and evaluation methods. (11)

The aim of this work was to gather expert opinion to assist curriculum committees and leadership faculty members in defining student leadership development competencies for doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) curricula. In addition, this paper verifies and validates the collected pharmacy opinions with contemporary leadership development approaches from the leadership development literature.


Competencies can be defined by drawing together a group of experts for dialogue, debate, and production of a report. However, the use of a Delphi process can ensure that consensus is achieved without the bias that can occur in discussions. (12) During a Delphi process, the experts (referred to as panelists) provide opinions that are collected through a series of structured anonymous questionnaires, referred to as rounds. The responses from each round are summarized and fed back to the panelists for continued comment and rating of agreement. By reviewing round reports, panelists are made aware of items they may have missed and the group's collective opinion. Therefore, opinions may be developed and reconsidered in a non-adversarial manner. (13) This process has the added advantage of gathering opinions without bringing panelists together physically.

Delphi processes have been used to define competencies of student affairs professionals, (14) and teachers. (15,16) In particular, the Delphi has also been used in health professions education to bring together expert opinion to support national efforts for curriculum advancement in medical education (17,18) and pharmacy. …

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