Use of a learning portfolio for continuous professional development: A study of pharmacists in Ontario (Canada)
Keywords:Learning portfolio, quality assurance, maintenance of competency, continuous professional development
The use of learning portfolios in health professions has been widely described and discussed as an important tool for promoting reflective practice and continuing professional development. Within pharmacy, there have been reports of the use of the learning portfolio in practice and education. The Ontario College of Pharmacists, as part of its maintenance of competency requirements, requires practicing pharmacists to maintain a learning portfolio as a written record of learning activities, resources used and outcomes. For this study, surveys were distributed to 1415 pharmacists in Ontario, Canada (representing approximately 20% of all pharmacists in the province) and data was collected related to use of the learning portfolio in practice.
In addition, anecdotal feedback was collected and analyzed to identify the value of the portfolio in maintenance of competency activities for pharmacists. Results indicate that initially pharmacistsmay express misunderstanding or misapprehension regarding the role of the learning portfolio and optimal ways of documenting learning in practice. However,with additional support (including the use of facilitated, peer-based discussions), attitudes towards learning portfolios shift towards acceptance and understanding. Quantitative data indicates a wide variation in the number of learning objectives identified per pharmacist per year, the amount of time spent in continuous professional development activities, and the impact of these activities on changing practice.
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