Continuing Professional Development

Evidence is mounting that traditional methods of CE do not adequately meet the lifelong learning and professional development needs of health care professionals and are not always successful in affecting practice behavior and improving patient outcomes. The Institute of Medicine has concluded that the current education and training of health care professionals is in need of a major overhaul. CPD, which is based on sound principles and adopts educational strategies that have been shown to be effective, potentially offers a quality improvement to the current systems for pharmacist CE.


Five Step CycleContinuing Professional Development essentially involves a cycle in which individual practitioners reflect on their practice and make self-assessments of their knowledge and skills, identify learning needs in order to create a personal learning plan, implement or act on the plan, then evaluate the effectiveness of the plan in relation to their practice. Documentation and recording each step is an integral aspect of CPD, and a personal portfolio is used for this purpose. The five-step cycle shown here illustrates how all the steps relate to each other.


Most pharmacists will agree that they are already following the cycle to some degree, when tackling the requirement of continuing education. For instance, the typical CE learning activity would fit in as implementing or acting on the plan a pharmacist has developed to meet their learning needs. However, the step anticipated to have the most impact on pharmacists will be the self-recording of information by the use of a portfolio, because it is not a step they are accustomed to. This is where future efforts will likely be focused when educating and training pharmacists on the implementation of CPD.

In summary, it appears that the field of pharmacy will eventually see a change in the existing system for pharmacist CE in an effort to meet lifelong learning and professional development needs and to improve patient outcomes. The change, likely to follow the framework of CPD, may not be seen as necessary by all stakeholders. While CPD appears logical and straightforward as a concept, if adopted, implementation will certainly bring challenges.

Please continue to visit this site for the latest information on how The University of Texas College of Pharmacy & the Pharmacy Continuing Education Office plans to incorporate CPD in their mission to providing quality pharmacy continuing education.

ACPE AccreditedThe University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education as a provider of continuing pharmacy education.

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