Full paper Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

A reciprocal relationship: Informing a profession’s competency standards (#122)

Rose Nash 1 , Ieva Stupans 2 , Natalie Brown 3 , Leanne Chalmers 1
  1. Pharmacy, School of Medicine, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  2. School of Science & Technology, University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia
  3. Tasmanian Institute of Teaching & Learning, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)

More than ever, pharmacy graduates require broad ranging capabilities to enable them to be responsive and adaptable professionals in a rapidly changing Australian healthcare system:  a system reliant on all individuals working in interdisciplinary teams managing an increasing chronic health burden. These workplace capabilities are declared through pharmacists’ registration requirements and the National Competency Standards Framework (CS). The profession is increasingly vocal about its expectations of graduates, which must be met to protect consumer safety and uphold the profession.

The authors sought to determine the current use, knowledge and acceptance of the CS in Australian pharmacy education through interviewing key stakeholders in pharmacy education.

Semi-structured interviews with 22 Australian Pharmacy Educators (5 Heads of School, 9 Pharmacy Educators, 8 Intern Training Providers) were conducted between December 2013 and May 2014. Data was thematically coded (Braun & Clarke) using NVivo10 software to determine emergent themes.

Participants reported the current role or purpose of CS for their students and interns included; Self-assessment/self-reflection, student awareness, student engagement, intern requirements, profession’s needs, consensual framework.

Barriers to use of the CS in pharmacy education included; student engagement, volume and complexity, professionalism, student and intern awareness, intern requirements, role or purpose of CS (not specifically education oriented).

Enablers to their use included; intern requirements, accreditation, professions’ needs, consensual framework, role or purpose of CS (registration exam, self assessment at the time of annual renewal of registration).

These data and participant statements within each theme provide an insight into pharmacy educators’ concerns and the current use, barriers and enablers of the CS and will inform the Australian Pharmacy Council blueprint and renewal of the CS to improve their usability for all members of the pharmacy ecosystem, including educators.


Addressing the theme/s of the Conference (up to 200 words recommended)

All health professionals, including pharmacists, must possess profession specific capabilities and be responsive and adaptable to cope with the demands of a rapidly changing healthcare system.

Informed by industry needs, the pharmacy profession sets out clear expectations for entry level practitioners through the eight domains of the National Competency Standards Framework (CS). Competency can be defined as the knowledge, skills and attributes desired of a pharmacist. Capabilities are defined (Stephenson & Weil, 1992, p. 1) as “an integration of confidence in one’s knowledge, skills, self-esteem and values.” Both underpin responsive and adaptable behaviour in the healthcare setting.

Australian pharmacy graduates complete a twelve month intern training program following graduation and prior to registration; universities and intern-training providers both contribute towards the student’s capability acquisition. Graduates are working towards capability development and are considered on a continuum towards competency.

The literature suggests pharmacy educators worldwide are informed by CS in constructing their curricula; traditionally there has been little opportunity for pharmacy educators to interact with the development of the competency standards themselves. This paper outlines the findings of work undertaken to explore the barriers to, and enablers of the use of the competency standards in Australian pharmacy curriculum.

  1. Braun V, Clarke V. Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology. 2006; 3(2):77-101.
  2. Stephenson, J., Weil, S.W. (1992) Quality in learning; a capability approach in higher education: Kogan Page.
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