Continuing pharmacy education vs. continuing professional development

July 15, 2012
Jill M. Fitzgerald, PharmD

Jill Fitzgerald is director of Pharmacy Professional Development and associate clinical professor at the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy.

Drug Topics and the Office of Pharmacy Development, University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy, introduce a new three-phase practice-based activity: "Medication Therapy Management for Patients with Diabetes"

The CPD cycle consists of "reflection," "planning," "learning," and "evaluating" a personal learning plan for a given subject or period of time. I doubt there is anyone in the profession who would argue that pharmacists must remain competent to practice effectively and provide patients with the service they deserve.

Pharmacy education today consists of the entry-level 6-year Doctor of Pharmacy degree. While this education provides the basis for competency in the profession, it is just the beginning of education for the professional. From 1972 to 1974, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy and American Pharmacists Association convened a task force on the continuing competence of pharmacists. They described a method of competency maintenance through continuing education (CE) that was subsequently linked to relicensure at the state level. Fulfilling the required state CE requirements has, therefore, become the standard of measurement of competency.

Enhance competency, outcomes with MTM

Drug Topics, in partnership with the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy, Office of Pharmacy Professional Development, has designed an opportunity for you to enhance your competency and patient outcomes in the area of medication therapy management (MTM) for patients with diabetes. Together we have developed a comprehensive, multilayered approach to education that provides the scaffolding of knowledge with application to simulated practice-relevant patient cases and training in motivational interviewing to assist you in your professional development and affect the health outcomes of your patients. The activities of this program use the core elements of MTM as it applies to patients with diabetes and further assists the pharmacist in affecting behavior change through the skill of motivational interviewing. Although any number of activities may be completed separately, completion of all three phases of the education will award the pharmacist a "certificate of completion" for the practice-based activity entitled "Medication Therapy Management for Patients with Diabetes."

The activities begin with the knowledge-based education available through the Drug Topics publication as the traditional 2-hour CE feature article from September 2012 through March 2013. Beginning in February 2013, the application of the knowledge component will be assessed through three interactive online practice-relevant e-learning opportunities that will align MTM core elements to simulated patient cases. And finally, in May 2013, two live meetings have been scheduled at the University of Connecticut to provide further training in MTM as applied to practice-relevant cases along with skills development in the area of motivational interviewing. The day-long activities will provide the basis for real health behavior change in your patients.

We hope you find these activities both relevant and useful as we expand pharmacy services to include more patient outcome improvement. We believe individual pharmacist-selected, practice-based CE opportunities can affect patient outcomes and provide professional development activity worthy of inclusion on your curriculum vitae or resume. Elevating your purpose for continuing education beyond simple state requirements will improve your employability in an environment of increased competition for available jobs. We encourage employers to value the choices that individual pharmacists make when selecting appropriate CPD, recognizing that practice-based activities provide a measure of competence.

Jill Fitzgerald, PharmD, is director of Pharmacy Professional Development and assistant clinical professor at the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy. For more information about continuing pharmacy education at University of Connecticut, go to http://www.pharmacy.uconn.edu/academics/ce.