Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Review of National and International Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs in the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Review of National and International Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs in the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries

Article excerpt


Since the turn of the century, few regions in the world have experienced an explosive growth in higher education as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. (1) The GCC is a political and economic union established in 1981. It consists of six countries in the Arabian Gulf: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). These countries are often referred to as the "Gulf States." There has been a rapid expansion within these countries in the number of pharmacy schools and pharmacy initial training programs. Many pharmacy colleges in the area have started to seek international pharmacy accreditation/certification (IPAC) believing that quality assurance resulting from successful IPAC will enhance GCC institutions' strategic strength toward labor force development, and economic sustainability. (1-4)

As part of the GCC trends related to quality assurance and assessment in higher education in general, pharmacy schools have witnessed significant changes in the 21st century. With the initiation of continuous revision and standardization processes of pharmacy curricula throughout the world, the focus has been on delivering quality education to students. (5) Among GCC pharmacy schools, the concept of "assessment, quality assurance and improvement" and "accreditation" in pharmacy education is somewhat new, as typical pharmacy curricula and universities were established only half a century ago. During this time, many major changes have occurred in the dimension of "quality of pharmacy education" to run with the education systems in North America and Europe. Recently, many pharmacy colleges in the GCC implemented a new outlook, namely "programs accreditation." This philosophy states that: "it is obligatory on every college to accredit its program(s) both nationally and internationally." (5) Based on this philosophy, many KSA university rectors, for example, appoint vice rectors for development and quality improvement. In addition, they often create new positions at each college at the vice dean level for quality and planning. The development of accreditation standards in GCC countries has formalized regulatory requirements for a culture of quality assurance and quality improvement and, explicitly or implicitly, changes in the organizational structure of higher education institutions to develop specialist units dedicated to quality assurance and institutional research. (6,7)

Typically, international pharmacy schools adopt one of four IPAC programs: Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education - International Services Program (ACPE-ISP), Canadian Council for Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs (CCAPP), German Accreditation Agency in Health and Social Sciences (AHPGS), or Australian Pharmacy Council (APC). ACPE offers certification, while the other three agencies offer accreditation or international accreditation.

There are 44 pharmacy colleges and schools in the GCC that offer a variety of pharmacy programs (Table 1). Recently, Kuwait started a new postgraduate PharmD program but plans to create a standalone (entry-to-practice) PharmD program in 2020. (8) Kuwait University College of Pharmacy expects to apply to CCAPP by 2021. At the time of this writing, the University of Bahrain had established the first program of pharmacy in the Kingdom of Bahrain. (9) In the GCC, over two-thirds (11) of pharmacy graduates prefer to work in hospitals rather than in community pharmacies. While clinical and hospital pharmacies in the GCC are well established and clinical pharmacists are well compensated, community pharmacy is seen as a less attractive employment option than hospital pharmacy. (4,10-12) Plans to enhance the status of community pharmacy practice in the GCC are ongoing. (5)

Recently, many pharmacy colleges in the GCC (especially in KSA, Kuwait and Qatar) have adopted a more clinical-oriented pharmacy curriculum. Thus, most of the new pharmacy colleges, especially in KSA, are opening only PharmD programs. …

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