Transformative Education
for Health Professionals

Error message

Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in _menu_load_objects() (Zeile 579 von /var/www/vhosts/

Developing Continuing Education process for re-licensure since 1965

Jennifer L. Baumgartner,Dimitra V. Travlos

The following is extracted from International Pharmaceutical Federation – FIP (2014). Continuing Professional Development/Continuing Education in Pharmacy: Global Report. 

United States of America

 275,000 registered pharmacists; all states and territories mandate CE for maintenance of licensure; CPD an option in three states; ACPE has on-line CPD educational resources that address all four CPD stages for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, student pharmacists, and CE providers; AACP’s Center for the Advancement of Pharmacy Education (CAPE) Educational Outcomes (2013); Accreditation body: Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.

Full project description: 

Full project description: To download the FIP Global Report click here 


In 1965, Florida became the first state to mandate continuing education (CE) for pharmacists’ re-licensure. In the early 1970s, the American Pharmaceutical Association-American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (APhA-AACP) Task Force on Continuing Competence in Pharmacy (1972-74) determined that CE was the best mechanism for assuring pharmacists’ proficiency [1]. In 1974, the APhA Board of Trustees recommended that the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) develop a system of accreditation for CE, and the following year ACPE introduced accreditation standards for CE providers. Currently, ACPE accredits approximately 350 CE providers.

See Figure 1 attached - Adoption of CPE and CPD in the United States, 1965-2013

Current drivers

Revision of CE accreditation standards in 2009 place a stronger emphasis on identifying practice gaps, application of learning in practice, and evaluation of learning outcomes on patient care, which has facilitated a shift to a learner-driven, needs-based model. Additionally, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has called for a new comprehensive vision of professional development based on the CPD approach to improve quality of learning [8].

The United States continues to mature in the implementation of the CPD framework.  In 2006, a 5-state CPD pilot program was undertaken as the first prospective, broad-based study to evaluate the potential role of CPD for pharmacists in the United States [9]. The primary purpose was to stimulate a shift in the profession from exploration of CPD to implementation. In subsequent years, three states have established the CPD framework as a process for re-licensure in lieu of traditional hours-based CE: North Carolina [10], Iowa, and New Mexico. 

The impact of CPD as compared to CE on pharmacy practice in a health system was examined in 2010 [11]. Results indicated that pharmacists who were enrolled in CPD more often reported improvement in their perceptions of pharmacy practice than pharmacists enrolled in CPE. 

Challenges faced in the implementation

Whereas drivers for change in CPD implementation have existed from within the profession as well as regulatory mandates in other countries, much of the forward movement in CPD in the United States has been spearheaded by the educational accrediting body (ACPE), professional associations, pharmacy schools, and employers within the various states.  Not all stakeholders feel the need for change and CPD implementation presents both challenges and opportunities. 

CPD requires a different approach by pharmacists, CE providers, employers/institutions, and regulators.  New skills and competencies, such as identifying individual learning needs, writing SMART learning objectives, and developing personal learning plans, are required, and not all pharmacists currently have this expertise [12,13].

Lessons learned

Evidence has shown that pharmacists who have adopted a CPD approach in the United States are more likely to identify strengths and weaknesses through self-assessment, development of SMART goals, and participation in activities selected to achieve a predetermined objective [13,14]. Study results have also indicated that increased time requirements for the CPD model may be a hindrance to model implementation [9, 11, 13].

Key tools that helped in each stage

ACPE has available on its website a compilation of CPD educational resources that address all four CPD stages for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, student pharmacists, and CE providers. These resources were primarily developed from the 5-state CPD pilot program.  The formats include audio-visual presentations with exercises, presentations and their associated documents, and a CPD Portfolio containing worksheets. 

This case study relates to:

Case study addresses: