Update: The Continuing Professional Development initiative from ACPE


A look at what's going on with the Continuing Professional Development initiative from ACPE.

The Continuing Professional Development (CPD) model is being explored as an enhancement to the current pharmacist continuing education (CE) system in the United States.

CPD has been defined as “a self-directed, ongoing, systematic and outcomes-focused approach to learning and professional development.” Evidence exists that CE in the health professions, including pharmacy, can lead to gains in knowledge, skills, attitudes and values, and changes in practice, but also that improvements can be made to current approaches. A recent report by the Institute of Medicine highlighted these issues.

As a result, ACPE has promoted the adoption of CPD as an expanded learning approach by the inclusion of CPD principles in its accreditation standards and by providing information and resources about the CPD process.

Pilot program

The CPD approach is used by pharmacists in Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand, and several other countries.
In the United States, five states - Indiana, Iowa, North Carolina, Washington, and Wisconsin - launched a CPD pilot program in 2006.

With ACPE’s support, the program was organized by various state pharmacy associations, schools of pharmacy, and state boards. Its purpose was to develop and evaluate a process and resources for implementing CPD that could be used by pharmacists in the United States. In addition, the pilot project sought to evaluate the effectiveness of CPD as a learning model. Findings of the pilot program were published in 2010.

CPD model

ACPE officials state that “CPD is self-
directed and practitioner-centered, practice-based, and outcomes-oriented. Its goal is to ensure pharmacists enhance the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values required for their specific area of practice and ultimately to achieve improved patient outcomes.”

The CPD model is usually described as a four-stage cyclical learning process. Each stage of the process can be recorded in a pharmacist’s “personal portfolio,” which is developed over time into a record of learning experiences and acts as an ongoing tool for review and self-evaluation.

Pharmacists are encouraged to consider their preferred learning style and choose activities that support CPD when organizing this tailored curriculum. Goals for learning might include the acquisition of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values that lie outside the defined competency areas of traditional CE activities.

In the CPD model, the pharmacist portfolio can expand beyond ACPE-accredited educational activities and may include relevant learning activities from other sources, such as academic programs, specialized training courses, or the workplace. The action plan is recorded in the portfolio and may be modified if professional or personal circumstances change. It should be reviewed at least annually.

Legal protection

Documentation of each stage in the CPD cycle in a personal portfolio should support pharmacist reflection and evaluation, and provide evidence of learning and its impact on others, such as employers, professors, or regulatory agencies.

One concern is the protection of the portfolio from discovery in the case of a legal proceeding. At this time, practically every state has introduced a peer-review statute. These statutes have a common thread in that, if certain requirements are satisfied, persons involved in recording certain potentially culpable information are typically provided with immunity regarding such information. In this regard, peer review laws could be expanded to include documentation in a portfolio, thereby offering protection to a well-intentioned participant in the CPD process.   

This article is not intended as legal advice and should not be used as such. When legal questions arise, pharmacists should consult with attorneys familiar with the relevant drug and pharmacy laws.

Ned Milenkovichis a member at McDonald Hopkins, LLC, and chairs its drug and pharmacy practice group. He is also Vice-Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Pharmacy. Contact Ned at 312-642-1480 or at nmilenkovich@mcdonaldhopkins.com.

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