Transformative Education
for Health Professionals

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Japanese Pharmacists Association Lifelong Learning Support System, on-line portfolio system

Naoko Arakawa, Shigeo Yamamura

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


276,517 registered pharmacists; Japanese Pharmacists Association lifelong learning support system (JALS) with a portfolio system – voluntary (20,000 are using); Professional Standards and guidelines to climb step-by-step through the Clinical Ladder; Types of existing Programmes: Continuing Education Credentialing Programmes, Special Training Programmes, and Pharmacy Specialties Credentialing Programmes; Accreditation body: Council on Pharmacists’ Credentials.


Full project description: 

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


  • In order to maintain and develop the knowledge and skills of pharmacists in Japan, the challenges in CPD/CE (e.g., the system, the programmes in diverse areas at different levels, and the quality) are being tackled at both national and regional levels.
  • In line with the FIP CPD/CE statement and Quality Assurance framework, the Japanese Pharmacists Association (JPA) launched the new on-line CE system, JPA lifelong learning support system, called JPALS in April 2012. The JPALS introduced the portfolio system along with the Professional Standards developed by the JPA in 2009 and guidelines to climb step-by-step through the Clinical Ladder to be recognised at each level.
  • There are still several remaining challenges in CPD/CE for Japan, such as developing the skills and knowledge to adopt the CPD process under a voluntary system, establishing adequate assessment methods and measures for a portfolio-based system, and raising the awareness and recognition from the public on the skills and knowledge that pharmacists continuously develop.


Current drivers

Pharmacists need to attain and maintain their knowledge and skills in order to meet the expectations from patients, medical professionals and the society in general. To achieve this purpose, as well as respond to demands from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW), and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), the Continuing Education Credentialing Programmes were established and driven by the Japan Pharmacists Education Centre (JPEC). This system allows all pharmacists in Japan to access broad learning opportunities and resources and assess as their achievements

Challenges faced with the implementation

Even though the development of a CPD/CE system in Japan has been significant, there remain many challenges to fully develop the framework. These challenges relate to the following three points: there is no mandatory CPD/CE system in Japan, the application of the CPD cycle as an approach to lifelong learning in individual practice, and the qualitative assessment of CPD portfolios.

Lessons learned

Under the situation where pharmacists are recognised as a member of the health care team, with ever-changing pharmaceutical technology, pharmacists are expected to practice at general to advanced levels in broad pharmaceutical fields. To establish a firm, consistent, and transparent CPD framework for pharmacists, the collaboration between governments, pharmacy profession-related organisations, and pharmacy schools is essential.

Moreover, periodic accreditation cycles to maintain and improve the quality of the learning programmes are important. To obtain the trust from other medical professionals and the population, the accreditation system also needs to be transparent. The foundation and the activities of the CPC assist with the process of quality assurance of pharmacists’ CPD efforts.

It is also vital to disseminate the concept of the CPD framework and its necessary learning skills to complete the CPD cycle. To promote seamless lifelong learning right after licensure at the advanced level, the components of pre-service education need to be taken into account for the implementation of the CPD framework in Japan.

Key tools that helped in each stage

At the Reflection stage, the JPEC provides the Indications for Self-Evaluation (available at: The JPA also developed the professional standards required of pharmacists [7]. Professional Standards are intended to help pharmacists identify their own learning objectives for the Planning stage. At the Action stage, there are many education programmes from a general practice level to a speciality practice level which are accredited by the CPC. During the Evaluation stage, the Professional Standards listed on the JPALS on-line system can be used to evaluate learning achievement. 

This case study relates to:

Case study addresses: