New Curricular Framework Aims to Prepare, Inspire the Next Generation of Community Pharmacy Leaders

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Pharmacy Careers, Fall 2022, Volume 16, Issue 2

The framework includes 6 domains designed to immediately empower students in community pharmacies.

Community pharmacy practice is evolving rapidly. The COVID-19 pandemic thrust community pharmacy into hyper-relevancy as pharmacists answered the call and responded to the largest public health emergency of our time. Pharmacists’ ability to effectively provide COVID-19 vaccines in addition to providing childhood vaccines under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act has created a new expectation from the public in terms of access and the role of pharmacists in their care.1 Pharmacists’ scope of practice is also expanding in individual states at a rapid rate, ensuring more permanent access to pharmacy services.2 Although practice expansion is occurring at different rates across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated transformation efforts and their corresponding challenges nationwide.

Pharmacy education plays a significant role in providing the foundation and inspiration for student pharmacists to pursue community pharmacy practice and become our future leaders. The rapid rate of practice transformation and the expectation of the public to have access to vaccines and other services in their local communities are a call to action for pharmacy education to prepare community pharmacy practice–ready graduates in a new way.

Recognizing a new type of synergy between pharmacy education and a rapidly transforming community pharmacy practice, the Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network (CPESN), the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), and the Community Pharmacy Foundation (CPF) founded the Academia-CPESN Transformation (ACT) Pharmacy Collaborative in 2019.3 The ACT Pharmacy Collaborative is the embodiment of a commitment among these organizations to:

  1. unite schools and colleges of pharmacy with a common focus to transform community-based practice;
  2. mobilize these and other stakeholders to support and facilitate implementation of community-based pharmacy care; and
  3. amplify the development and implementation of sustainable community-based pharmacy care delivery.

The ACT Pharmacy Collaborative now represents 97 schools and colleges of pharmacy who have publicly committed to act as champions of these efforts.4 Through the ACT Pharmacy Collaborative, CPESN pharmacist leaders, faculty leaders, and professional pharmacy associations (including the AACP, National Community Pharmacists Association, American College of Clinical Pharmacy, and American Pharmacists Association) worked to develop the Community Pharmacy Practice Transformation Curricular Framework.5 The consensus framework was developed as a recommendation to all colleges and schools of pharmacy as they revise courses and curricula to meet the changing expectations for delivery of patient care services in community pharmacies nationwide.

The framework contains 6 domains which, when combined with didactic, experiential, and cocurriculum environments, will enable pharmacist graduates to drive practice transformation. It will equip them with knowledge and skills to immediately contribute to the design, implementation, delivery, evaluation, and improvement of sustainable patient care services alongside the provision of services in community pharmacies nationwide. The domains and their descriptions are located in the TABLE.5 Domain descriptions can be viewed as goal statements. Each domain also has a corresponding list of learning outcomes that represent what student learners should be expected to do upon graduation. Achieving the learning outcomes listed in the framework will enable a graduating pharmacist to attain the described goal. The framework represents what community pharmacists themselves identified as being the key knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will empower pharmacy graduates to participate in the transformation efforts occurring within community pharmacies across the country.

Domain 1 underscores the need for recently graduated pharmacists to develop a professional identity and articulate the value of providing care in community pharmacies. This involves developing a personalized philosophy of care, having strong ties to the profession, acting as an adult learner, and being an empowered professional who is able to reflect on meaningful experiences.

Domain 2 recognizes the drug information and data evaluation skills that colleges and schools of pharmacy are known for, and challenges them to explicitly and repeatedly teach these skills through a community pharmacy lens. Success in this domain enables new graduates to find and apply the insights from published literature to their specific pharmacy. Additionally, graduates should be able to use the data generated by the pharmacy itself to identify gaps, evaluate services, engage in continuous quality improvement, and develop or update policies.

Domains 3 and 4 recommend that colleges and schools of pharmacy continue broadening their focus on interprofessional care and public health. Recognizing that pharmacists in the community are providing patient care services, community pharmacies often serve as access points to a myriad of other health services. These domains advise working with entities such as health plans, government organizations, and community organizations to collaboratively improve public health and the health of specific populations within the community.

Domain 5 acknowledges the growing role of technology and nonpharmacist staff to support, document, and communicate the results of patient, population, and public health efforts. New graduates must be able to help pharmacies capitalize on new or existing patient care opportunities using available community pharmacy technologies within a sustainable workflow properly supported by nonpharmacist staff. New pharmacy graduates should be well positioned to help the pharmacy identify and use new technologies or digital health tools and work with owners or managers to incorporate them into a service’s workflow.

Domain 6 emphasizes that community pharmacy transformation is a path to a more sustainable business. New graduates need to understand the realities of the current business landscape. If community pharmacy transformation is going to be successful at scale, new pharmacists need to be able to articulate community pharmacy’s value proposition and identity. They must be able to use existing and new payment pathways (eg, medical billing) and participate in development of business plans.

The framework serves as a guide for faculty and preceptors in the didactic, experiential, and cocurriculum environments, outlining the essential components for today’s community pharmacist and tomorrow’s leaders. Successful implementation of the framework will hinge on colleges and schools of pharmacy applying or hiring the appropriate expertise, utilizing quality practice sites for experiential learning, and continually engaging the community pharmacy world.

The framework provides a roadmap to help colleges and schools of pharmacy bridge the gap between community practice and education. Experienced community pharmacists are well aware that superhero status alone won’t achieve the type of transformation that community pharmacy practice requires. Colleges and schools of pharmacy need to play a key role in accelerating the transformation of community pharmacy practice by intentionally preparing new graduates to engage in the transformation that is occurring. Today’s students are eager to step into community pharmacy roles and aid transformation efforts that will deliver on the promise and potential of community pharmacy practice.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Nicholas Leon, PharmD, BCPS, BCACP, FCPP, is an associate professor of pharmacy practice at the Jefferson College of Pharmacy in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Melissa Somma McGivney, PharmD, FCCP, FAPhA, is a professor of pharmacy and therapeutics and associate dean for community partnerships at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy in Pennsylvania.

REFERENCES

1. Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act, HR 6206, 116th Cong (2020). Accessed October 7, 2022. https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/6206/text?r=8&s=1

2. State policy. National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations. Accessed October 7, 2022. https://naspa.us/restopic/state-policy/

3. Blueprint for building a national partnership collaborative. Academia-CPESN Transformation Pharmacy Collaborative. Accessed October 3, 2022. https://www.actforpharmacy.com/_files/ugd/de0833_eaa3ff0e259149f8b2eac042c98591b9.pdf

4. Welcome to the Academia-CPESN Transformation (ACT) Pharmacy Collaborative. Academia-CPESN Transformation Pharmacy Collaborative. Accessed October 3, 2022. https://www.actforpharmacy.com

5. Community pharmacy practice transformation: curricular framework. Academia-CPESN Transformation Pharmacy Collaborative. Accessed October 3, 2022. https://www.actforpharmacy.com/frameworks