Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

A Qualitative Study of Motivating Factors for Pharmacy Student Leadership

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

A Qualitative Study of Motivating Factors for Pharmacy Student Leadership

Article excerpt


Leadership development is a tenet of the professional development of student pharmacists. The Center for Advancement of Pharmacy Education (CAPE) Educational Outcomes includes leadership as part of Domain 4: Personal and Professional Development, in its 2013 publication. (1) Pharmacy schools have developed and sponsored curricular and co-curricular activities with the intent of developing student leaders. The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy (UTCOP) has 16 organizations for students in the professional pharmacy program, with the majority of these organizations receiving college funds to achieve their respective missions. (2) The efforts of developing leadership in student pharmacists, on the part of the college of pharmacy (COP) and its student organizations, should be further examined, particularly since considerable resources are expended on these efforts.

Researchers have studied individual characteristics that predict how likely a student pharmacist is to assume a leadership role while in a professional pharmacy program. For example, Kiersma and colleagues found that as a student's pre-pharmacy grade point average (GPA) increased, that student was less likely to hold a leadership position. Also, student pharmacists in the third and fourth professional years (P3 and P4) were more likely to be involved in student organizations than students in the first and second professional years (P1 and P2). (3) Recently, Phillips and colleagues found that P4s who held leadership positions while in the professional pharmacy program were motivated to lead because of three factors: interest in developing leadership skills, enjoyment of the feeling of giving back, and the ability to include it as an accomplishment on a curriculum vitae (CV). Additionally, this study assessed motivating factors for student leaders in a variety of positions, ranging from committee chairs to non-presidential officers to presidential officers. (4)

However, there have been no studies to identify why student pharmacists choose to lead in a particular organization. Specifically, it is unknown if the factors that motivate a student pharmacist to serve in student government are the same as those for a student pharmacist who leads in a nationally affiliated organization. Additionally, one study on motivating factors at one school may not be sufficient to generalize to all student pharmacists.

The purpose of this research study was to identify why student pharmacists choose to serve as a leader, and how these student leaders choose a particular organization to lead. The questions this research sought to answer were twofold: Why does a student pharmacist seek to serve in a leadership capacity, and what characteristics about different student organizations direct these student leaders to choose one versus another (student government vs. a nationally affiliated organization)?

Additional attention was given to those characteristics the student leaders believed were essential in executing their duties. Because this study took an inductive approach, a specific hypothesis was not tested; rather, commonalities were identified across student leaders, previous and current, based on the research questions above.

A choice model for why students in the professional pharmacy program choose to serve in a leadership position and why these students choose to lead in a particular organization could be helpful for organization leaders in recruiting future leaders. Furthermore, the results from this research will inform future inquiries and further expand our knowledge of why student pharmacists seek leadership activities while in the professional program.


A qualitative research approach was appropriate for this study given the research questions and the goal to develop an in-depth understanding of the student experiences in seeking and holding a leadership position while in pharmacy school. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.