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What is Pharmacy Professional Development? Ask Yourself These 5 Questions

In pharmacy school, we are taught a variety of clinical and professional topics based on accreditation requirements.

After graduation, we complete continuing education (CE); mostly on the topics we choose.

But is that all there is to continuously develop as a professional in pharmacy?

According to the Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education (ACPE) – the organization which accredits pharmacy school curriculums – the definition of continuous professional development (CPD) is:

“CPD is an approach to lifelong learning. ACPE defines CPD as a self-directed, ongoing, systematic and outcomes-focused approach to lifelong learning that is applied into practice. It involves the process of active participation in formal and informal learning activities that assist individuals in developing and maintaining continuing competence, enhancing their professional practice, and supporting achievement of their career goals.”

It's much more than obtaining CE, yet not as organized. There may not be an official start/stop to learning something followed by a ten question quiz. There may not be guidance to tell you HOW to do CPD.

Here’s the good news: It CAN be individualized. If we are truly focused on lifelong learning, then we’ll seek out areas to learn more about. We’ll ask questions to those who know more. We’ll seek out programs in those areas. We’ll even pay to participate in such learning.

Still feel a little lost? Answer some of these questions to get you started:

  • What are you curious about, right now?

  • What would benefit your current patients/community?

  • One year from now, what would you want to feel more comfortable with?

  • Imagine a colleague shares an article that was just published on one of your favorite topics – what’s it about?

  • Pretend we’re 5 years in the future and you are asked to give a presentation on a focus area of your life – what’s your topic?

Notice that these questions can be personal or professional - 'enhancing one's practice' involves all facets of our lives.

My definition of professional development? The curiosities that call to us throughout the day and into our dreams at night. Follow those and you'll develop personally and professionally.

Developing as professionals - and humans - by charting our own course is what pharmacy needs.

How would you define continuous professional development?

Until next week,




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