Should R.Ph.s and techs take the same CEs?

January 9, 2006

Should pharmacists and technicians undergo the same continuing education programs or should separate activities be set up for these two professionals? This is a question the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) is now grappling with as part of its drive to update its CE accreditation standards. Dimitra Travlos, Pharm.D., BCPS, assistant executive director at ACPE, gave attendees of the ASHP midyear meeting in Las Vegas an update on this issue last month.

Driving this issue is the fact that more states now require technicians to be certified and certification by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) involves taking a minimum of 20 hours of CE every two years. PTCB does not require techs to obtain their CE from an accredited provider, but many choose to do so. Out of the 400 accredited CE providers in this country, 56% reported that technicians are among their participants.

For now, no verdict has been reached about whether CE content should vary for pharmacists versus technicians. However, ACPE is proposing to use a different designation for CE programs based on the type of professional who takes them. This is how the revised system would work:

For technicians, ACPE proposes to use the letter T in lieu of 0. Thus: T1 would be a CE on drug therapy for technicians, T2 on AIDS, and so on.

If a CE program is designed for both pharmacists and technicians, then ACPE suggests using the letter B. Finally, if a CE activity is targeted at other health professionals, such as doctors and nurses, the designation I for interprofessional is recommended.

Travlos told the audience that ACPE has received a first round of comments on its proposal from select CE providers. The ACPE board will meet this month to review this feedback. Then a revised draft will go out for professionwide comment. ACPE expects to finalize its CE accreditation standards in about a year from now.

In other news, ASHP attendees at the ACPE update session learned the following:

In sum, Travlos said, those who wish to review the revised accreditation standards for CE and the Pharm.D. degree should check out ACPE's Web site at http://www.acpe-accredit.org/.