Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Stakeholders' Perspectives on Quality Assurance of Pharmacy Education in the Eastern Mediterranean Region

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Stakeholders' Perspectives on Quality Assurance of Pharmacy Education in the Eastern Mediterranean Region

Article excerpt

Middle East

INTRODUCTION

Today, transforming and upgrading health professional education remains a pressing issue in many countries, with the World Health Organization (WHO) calling for enhanced quantity, quality and relevance of health professional training to strengthen country health systems and improve health outcomes. (1) As the main role of pharmacists is centered on access to medicines, health care and medicine information, pharmacy education must prepare graduates with appropriate competencies (knowledge, skills, attitudes and values) to fulfill these responsibilities. (2) Academics, policymakers and pharmacy profession representatives around the globe are frequently called upon to collectively improve competencies of pharmacists to meet increasing societal health care needs. For example, in 2004, the Joint Commission of Pharmacy Practitioners (JCPP) in the United States articulated a vision for pharmacy practice and stated that by 2015 "Pharmacy education will prepare pharmacists to provide patient-centered and population-based care that optimizes medication therapy; to manage health care system resources to improve therapeutic outcomes; and to promote health improvement, wellness, and disease prevention." (3)

In recent years, the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) initiated competency-based educational programs and frameworks to evaluate and enhance the quality of education, and to support countries in their mission to build a competent and capable practitioner workforce. (4-9) The FIP Global Competency Framework (GbCF) is one initiative envisioned as a self-assessment tool to be used on a national level or by individual institutions for quality assurance. (5) As many countries have not yet developed national frameworks, or might be in the process of doing so, FIP recommends these countries use this tool, in development of their frameworks.

The education of pharmacists should be viewed and treated as a continuum (ie, starting from undergraduate education to lifelong continuing professional development). (8) Ultimately, stakeholders of the profession who are working toward harmonization of practice-based expectations of practitioners should see the importance and applicability of competency-based frameworks. (5)

In pharmacy education, optimal quality assurance measures require a vision for pharmacy practice and professional education, and an understanding of the philosophy and purpose of quality assurance in pharmacy education. (7) A recent model adopted by FIP's Global Framework for Quality Assurance of Pharmacy Education proposes five pillars (context, structure, process, outcomes and impact) and three foundations (science, practice and ethics) to quality in pharmacy education (Figure 1). (7) The model with its eight elements of quality can serve as a mapping tool to plan and develop improvements in areas with inadequate quality assessment processes. (7) It can be used as a framework to discuss key aspirations, challenges, and facilitators in specific countries that affect the advancement and quality assurance of pharmacy education.

Based on such developments, many countries have implemented major changes to university training of pharmacy students, however, there is vast inter and intra-country variability. (4,8) The Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR), comprised of 22 countries, is one of the six regions grouped by the World Health Organization (WHO). (10) The EMR has hundreds of pharmacy schools, some of which have made impactful developments on practice through advancing pharmacy education and are major exporters of pharmacists to other countries. (11,12) In a 2013 Global Education Report from FIP, the EMR was represented by 11 countries, and yet, aggregated data indicated, as a region, the EMR had large educational capacity with high pharmacy-graduate production capacity preceded only by the Western Pacific Region. (4) Data from the same report indicated Egypt and Jordan were two of the highest pharmacy-graduate producing countries in the world. …

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