Boards to Test How to Assess Pharmacists' Competence

By Ukens, Carol | Drug Topics, June 10, 1996 | Go to article overview

Boards to Test How to Assess Pharmacists' Competence


Ukens, Carol, Drug Topics


By the time the century turns, pharmacists up for relicensure may have to prove that they still have what it takes to practice their profession if a new feasibility study points in the direction of competency assessment.

The executive committee of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy has authorized a study for the development of a Pharmacist Competency Assessment (PCA) mechanism. The idea is to measure the professional practice skills of pharmacists, as well as to complement continuing education programs. The PCA would be offered to state pharmacy boards for use in the relicensure process.

Results of the PCA would not be used to punish pharmacists but to pinpoint practice deficiencies. NABP hopes to work very closely with the American Council on Pharmaceutical Education to develop structured continuing education to bring R.Ph.s up to professional standards, said executive director Carmen Catizone, who added, "Rather than saying, 'If you don't pass it, you're out,' we'd like it to be more of a learning tool for the pharmacist and the board."

The idea of PCA may not go down easy with other pharmacy associations guarding their professional turf or with pharmacists, many of whom grouse that they're already the most heavily regulated profession. "I expect that we will get crucified," said Catizone, who joked that NABP is not accepting any packages these days. "I've warned the staff and the state boards that they're going to be subject to criticism because of what NABP is doing."

Allowing pharmacists to assess pharmacists' competence is fine with the American Pharmaceutical Association, as long as the process is voluntary, said Lucinda Maine, senior director for pharmacy affairs. While APhA has not had time to digest NABP's proposal, she questioned whether pharmacist competency assessment is a proper role for boards of pharmacy.

"We believe that APhA already has some [competency assessment] activities set in motion through our task forces, committees, and house of delegates policies," said Maine. "The question is how do we operationalize it and make it available to pharmacists to help them assess and improve their practice. I'm not sure that most people are comfortable with the thought that the boards would be directly involved. I think we would maintain that it is not a board of pharmacy responsibility."

A pilot study of continuing pharmacist competence never got airborne in Washington due to a lack of funding, said Don Williams, executive director, Washington State Board of Pharmacy. …

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