BETHESDA, MD 29 November 2012—Imagine a future in which new graduates of pharmacy schools understand enough about interprofessional teamwork, technology, and the health care system to practice at the top of their license.
That is the future that representatives of various pharmacy groups want from Pharm.D. degree programs, said Thomas J. Johnson, the ASHP board member who represented the Society at the invitational conference "Advancing Quality in Pharmacy Education: Charting Accreditation’s Future."
ASHP in particular, Johnson said, wants new graduates to have the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and abilities to enter a postgraduate year 1 (PGY1) residency program.
The Society in 2007 adopted a policy that strongly encourages new graduates who will provide "direct patient care" to complete an ASHP-accredited PGY1 residency.
"There’s been a fair amount of debate as to whether new graduates are practice ready," said Johnson, director of hospital pharmacy at 545-bed Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. "And that debate can go on for a long time."
He said that to some extent, being practice ready "does very much depend upon the practice, the setting, [and] the type and scope of what they’re being asked to do."
ASHP and many of its members, Johnson said, want students to graduate pharmacy school as ready to enter a PGY1 residency program as they are ready to enter any other practice setting.
The conference, held September 12–14 in Atlanta, was convened by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).
In planning the event, the accrediting group had said the conference’s outcomes will contribute to the upcoming revision of accreditation standards for Pharm.D. programs.
ACPE President Robert S. Beardsley said the accrediting group will look at pharmacy schools’ evidence on experiential learning to reassess the guidelines specifying the number of hours of that type of education.
The conference’s attendees, he said, want ACPE to rely more on preceptors’ evaluations of students’ skills, professionalism, and knowledge and less on the log of hours spent in each practice setting.
ACPE, as it drafts the new standards, would like to be able to see good outcome measures of experiential learning, Beardsley said. Such measures would assess the quality of pharmacy students during and at the end of the experiential learning program.
Johnson said people from different practice settings hold different opinions on the best way to prepare students for the pharmacy profession and its diverse options.
Yet each of those opinions, based on the viewpoint from a specific practice setting, is probably correct, said Johnson, who, as part of his previous employment, chaired the curriculum committee at a pharmacy school.
The current accreditation standards for Pharm.D. programs were adopted in 2006. Guidelines for those standards were initially adopted at that time, and version 2.0 was adopted in 2011.
"I think, overall, people would like changes," Beardsley said of the conference’s attendees, "and that the board of directors of ACPE would like changes, too. We just don’t know what those changes will be right now."
He said ACPE was considering drafting the new guidelines and standards in 2013.
The conference marked the first time the organization solicited opinions from stakeholders before drafting a new set of accreditation standards for Pharm.D. programs.
ACPE said more than 100 leaders "across the continuum of pharmacy practice, academia, industry and organizations" attended the conference.
The accrediting group said detailed proceedings of the conference will be published early next year.