Knowledge, use and perceived relevance of a profession's Competency Standards; implications for Pharmacy Education
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© 2016 Royal Pharmaceutical SocietyObjectives: To determine the extent of use and perceived relevance of the National Competency Standards Framework for Pharmacists in Australia (NCS). Based on these findings, to suggest approaches for the enhancement of pharmacy education for the profession locally and globally. Methods: Convenience sampling techniques were employed between November 2013 and June 2014 in conducting an online survey with Australian pharmacy students, interns, pharmacists and educators. Key findings: Data from 527 participants were included in the final analysis. Fewer students (52%, 96/183) and interns 78% (69/88) knew the NCS framing pharmacy practice compared with pharmacists (86%, 115/134). Despite knowledge that the NCS existed most participants reported poor familiarity with and use of the NCS. Registered pharmacists reported annual use but not for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) plans or annual re-registration requirements. Respondents reported that practical use of NCS (e.g. mentoring interns) increased their use for personal needs. Some participants suggested regular instruction on self-assessment skills development would enhance meaningful use of the NCS. Conclusion: Despite self-assessment against NCS being mandated annually, Australia's practising pharmacists provided explanations for why this is not common in practice. The barriers provided by respondents are interconnected; their enablers are practical solutions to each barrier. The findings reinforce the notion that student pharmacists must have their competency standards, life-long learning and self-assessment skills embedded into their university curriculum to ensure a strong foundation for practice. The opportunity offered by periodic renewal of standards must prompt regular profession-wide evaluation of its education to practice nexus. Insights and author recommendations are portable to the pharmacy profession globally.
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