Pharmacy Education: Foundation for Providing Health


AACP offers a rebuttal to a Drug Topics opinion article.

The May 16, 2017 In My View column by Dennis Miller, RPh, provides an incorrect picture of the scope and focus of contemporary pharmacy education. Perhaps Miller, as a retired pharmacist, has not had an opportunity to experience pharmacy school recently. And perhaps he is not aware of the accreditation standards that govern our institutions. 

Today’s pharmacists are educated not only as medication experts, but also as the most accessible health and wellness providers. Approximately 15,000 new graduates enter practice each year, equipped with a broad and diverse range of knowledge and experience.

The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) is the national organization representing pharmacy education in the United States. The mission of AACP is to lead and partner with our members in advancing pharmacy education, research, scholarship, practice, and service to improve societal health.

Related article: Why consumers trust pharmacists

Pharmacy education has been changing progressively for the last 20 years. The Center for the Advancement of Pharmacy Education (CAPE) Curricular Outcomes is the framework for the content of the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education standards. As far back at 1998, CAPE defined the scope of pharmacy education as encompassing pharmaceutical care, systems management, and public health.

In 2013, AACP updated this framework and increased the emphasis on the components of pharmacists’ education and practice that address cultural competence and patient-centeredness. More recently AACP has published a set of Entrustable Professional Activities that communicate what employers, patients and others can expect pharmacy graduates to do, without direct supervision, upon completion of a doctor of pharmacy program.

While the PharmD curriculum certainly prepares our graduates to be the most well-prepared medication use experts, it also provides students many opportunities to consider the people they serve holistically, taking into account patient concerns and preferences for disease prevention and treatment. 

Indeed, today’s pharmacists deliver patient care through counseling in community and hospital settings, through home health visits, and through screening programs and community-based clinics that provide outreach to underserved communities. The entrustable professional activities also emphasize new graduates’ abilities in population health and practice management.

As a result of their excellent education, pharmacists have many rewarding career paths, including ambulatory care clinics, specialty pharmacy, research, government agencies – and academia.

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