Transformative Education
for Health Professionals

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Different CPD/CE processes for the different provinces (CE-type, CPD-type and hybrid systems in use)

Sandra Winkelbauer, Ashifa Keshavji, Heather Baker, Jeanne Eriksen, Gary Meek, Anick Minville, Bev Zwicker, Barbara Thomas,Michelle Wyand,Kim McIntosh


36,174 registered pharmacists; CPD-type, CE-type and hybrid systems in use according to the different provinces; Accreditation body: Canadian Council on Continuing Education in Pharmacy (CCCEP); the CCCEP developed a framework for competency-mapped accreditation.

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


Full project description: 

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


Canada is comprised of ten provinces and three territories, with a total of over 36,000 pharmacists (see Figure 1) [1].  Although there are some national processes (e.g. national licensing exam, national standards), each region has its own requirements for licensure and maintenance of competence.  With respect to continuing education (CE) and continuing professional development (CPD), all provinces require pharmacists to engage in on-going learning to maintain competence; however, the process varies from province to province.  

Figure 1: National statistics for pharmacists in Canada 2013.


Current drivers

Many provinces in Canada have enacted legislation enabling an expanded scope of practice for pharmacists, such as administering injections or initial prescribing for various disease states/conditions.  In order to practice to this new level, the need for on-going CPD is heightened. 

Canada is “maturing” with respect to CPD/CE.  Some provinces have fully adopted a CPD model and other provinces have adopted portions of the model.

In many provinces, legislation requires continuous learning by healthcare professionals. In addition, several of the pharmacy regulatory bodies have incorporated a CPD model into their quality assurance process. 

Challenges faced with the implementation

The challenges vary depending on where each province is on the CPD continuum:

  • Resources to establish a CPD programme;
  • Resources to audit compliance / provide feedback;
  • Some pharmacists continue to have a difficult time understanding the value of the CPD system (e.g. those not in direct patient care; those resistant to change; those that believe the CEU (continuing education units) system is more effective);
  • Identifying pharmacists requiring additional guidance or mentoring with respect to application of newly-acquired knowledge into their practice.

Lessons learned

  • The CPD approach to learning is embraced more by those that had a mentor / colleagues demonstrating use or those that incorporated a similar approach during their undergraduate education;
  • The flexibility of the CPD approach allows those with specialised practice to engage in learning that is most beneficial to their particular practice (e.g. non-pharmacy conferences, workplace learning, research, etc.);
  • There is value in focusing on an outcome in practice (i.e., applying newly-acquired knowledge to practice)
  • Pharmacists support the CPD process when the impact in practice is recognised;
  • The CPD cycle enables a continuous learning process, and becomes a valuable platform to reinforce continuing competence within practice.

Key tools that helped in each stage

  1. Reflect – provision of feedback either through a self-assessment tool or audit of portfolio.
  2. Plan – self-assessment tool helps in identifying learning needs and prioritising them.
  3. Act – availability of quality CE programs or other learning opportunities (e.g., being a preceptor to students; being involved in practice research, etc.).
  4. Evaluate – reflective questions as part of documentation to encourage transfer to practice or requirement to document demonstration of application in practice.

Plans for the future

Representatives from regulatory bodies across Canada are working together to create more consistent processes for quality assurance by sharing tools and resources. Included under the umbrella of quality assurance are self-assessment tools, learning portfolio tools and audit tools. 


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