An international review of the use of competency standards in undergraduate pharmacy education


  • Rose E Nash University of Tasmania
  • Leanne Chalmers University of Tasmania
  • Natalie Brown University of Tasmania
  • Shane Jackson University of Tasmania
  • Gregory Peterson University of Tasmania


Competency, Outcomes-Based Education, Pharmacy, Undergraduate, Curriculum


Background: Pharmacists are self-regulating health professionals. There is currently international attention on pharmacy education, competency standards, advanced level frameworks and integrated pharmacy programmes.

Aims: To review the programme-wide use of competency standards within undergraduate pharmacy curricula internationally.

Methods: A systematic review of the literature was undertaken between 2000-2013. An iterative process using constant comparative analysis was utilised to theme the final 19 papers. These papers were then characterised based on their programme level use of competency standards.

Results: Of 948 articles identified, 19 were included. Competency standards were used multiple ways in pharmacy programmes including curriculum design, mapping and were reflected in assessment.

Conclusion: Across the globe the profession’s competency standards (CS) have been utilised to design, develop and review pharmacy curricular. Use of CS to inform outcome-based education (OBE) in pharmacy programmes provides a quality assurance mechanism and may enhance the accountability and flexibility of the profession for its public. 

Author Biographies

Rose E Nash, University of Tasmania

Associate Lecturer, Pharmacy, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health

Leanne Chalmers, University of Tasmania

Pharmacy, School of Medicine

Natalie Brown, University of Tasmania

Associate Professor, Tasmanian Institute of Learning and Teaching

Shane Jackson, University of Tasmania

Pharmacy, School of Medicine

Gregory Peterson, University of Tasmania

Professor, Pharmacy, School of Medicine


Anderson, H.M., Anaya, G., Bird, E. & Moore, D.L. (2005a). A Review Of Educational Assessment. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 69, 84-100.

Anderson, H.M., Moore, D.L., Anaya, G. & Bird, E. (2005b). Student Learning Outcomes Assessment: A Component Of Program Assessment. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 69, 256-268.

Association Of Faculties Of Pharmacy Of Canada. (2010). Educational Outcomes For First Professional Degree Programs In Pharmacy In Canada (online). Available at: outcomes.pdf. Accessed 11th August, 2014.

Atkinson, J., Rombaut, B., Pozo, A., Rekkas, D., Veski, P., Hirvonen, J., Bozic, B., Skowron, A., Mircioiu, C., Marcincal, A. & Wilson, K. (2014). The Production Of A Framework Of Competences For Pharmacy Practice In The European Union. Pharmacy, 2, 161-174.

Australian Pharmacy Council. (2012). Accreditation Standards For Pharmacy Programs In Australia And New Zealand. Canberra: Australian Pharmacy Council Ltd. (online). Available at: content/index.php?Id=17. Accessed 26th February 2015.

Baartman, L.K J., Bastiaens, T.J., Kirschner, P.A. & Van Der Vleuten, C.P.M. (2006). The Wheel Of Competency Assessment: Presenting Quality Criteria For Competency Assessment Programs. Studies In Educational Evaluation, 32, 153-170.

Barr, R.B. & Tagg, J. (1995). From Teaching To Learning - A New Paradigm For Undergraduate Education. Change: The Magazine Of Higher Learning, 27, 12-26.

Biggs, J. & Tang, C. (2007). Teaching For Quality Learning At University, Maidenhead, Berkshire, England: The Society For Research Into Higher Education And Open University Press.

Bradberry, J.C.P., Droege, M., Evans, R.L.P., Guglielmo, J.B.P., Knapp, D.A.P., Knapp, K.K.P., Meyer, S.M.P., Poirier, T.I.P. & Plaza, C.M.P.P. (2007). Curricula Then And Now-An Environmental Scan And Recommendations Since The Commission To Implement Change In Pharmaceutical Education: Report Of The 2006-2007 Academic Affairs Committee. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 71, 1-11.

Brailsford, G. & Duffal, S. (2014). Integrated Pharmacy Programme Feasability Study, Dunedin: University Of Otago (online). Available at: http://pharmacy. Accessed 3rd February, 2015.

Briceland, L. & Hamilton, R. (2010). Electronic Reflective Student Portfolios To Demonstrate Achievement Of Ability-Based Outcomes During Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 74, 1-4.

Britton, M., Letassy, N., Medina, M.S. & Er, N. (2008). A Curriculum Review And Mapping Process Supported By An Electronic Database System. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 72, 1-99.

Brown, A.N., Gilbert, B.J., Bruno, A.F. & Cooper, G.M. (2012). Validated Competency Framework For Delivery Of Pharmacy Services In Pacific-Island Countries. Journal of Pharmacy Practice, 42, 268-272.

Brownie, S., Bahnisch, M. & Thomas, J. (2011). Competency- Based Education And Competency- Based Career Frameworks: Informing Australia Health Workforce Development. Adelaide: National Health Workforce Planning & Research Collaboration.

Butler, P. (2006). A Review Of The Literature On Portfolios And Electronic Portfolios (online). Available at: 1277760. Accessed 18th February, 2014.

Chappell, C., Gonczi, A. & Hager, P. (2000). Competency-Based Education. In Understanding Adult Education And Training (ed. G. Foley), 2nd ed. St Leonards: Allen & Unwin.

Conway, S.E., Medina, M.S., Letassy, N.A. & Britton, M.L. (2011). Assessment Of Streams Of Knowledge, Skill, And Attitude Development Across The Doctor Of Pharmacy Curriculum. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 75, 83.

Cusimano, M.D. (1996). Standard Setting In Medical Education. Academic Medicine, 71, S112-20.

Draugalis, J.R., Slack, M.K., Sauer, K.A., Haber, S.L. & Vaillancourt, R.R. (2002). Creation And Implementation Of A Learning Outcomes Document For A Doctor Of Pharmacy Curriculum. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 66, 253-260.

Epstein, R.M. & Hundert, E.M. (2002). Defining And Assessing Professional Competence. Journal Of The American Medical Association, 287, 226-235.

Franklin, N. & Melville, P. (in press). Competency Assessment Tools: An

Exploration Of The Pedagogical Issues Facing Competency Assessment For Nurses In The Clinical Environment. Collegian.

Gallagher, H.C. (2010). New Fitness-To-Practice Requirements For Pharmacists In Ireland: Implications For Undergraduate Pharmacy Education. Medical Teacher, 32, E71-E77.

Garavalia, L.S. (2002). Selecting Appropriate Assessment Methods: Asking The Right Questions. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 66, 108.

General Pharmaceutical Council (2011). Future Pharmacists Standards For The Initial Education And Training Of Pharmacists, London: General Pharmaceutical Council (online). Available at: http:// Accessed 26th February, 2015.

Gonczi, A. (1994). Competency Based Assessment In The Professions In Australia. Assessment In Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 1, 27-44.

Grant, M.J. & Booth, A. (2009). A Typology Of Reviews: An Analysis Of 14 Review Types And Associated Methodologies. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 26, 91-108.

Hammer, D.P. & Paulsen, S.M. (2001). An Innovative Clerkship In Pharmacy Education. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 65, 284-284.

Harden, R.M., Crosby, J.R. & Davis, M.H. (1999). Amee Guide No. 14: Outcome-Based Education: Part 1--An Introduction To Outcome Education. Medical Teacher, 21, 7-14.

Hill, L.H., Delafuente, J.C., Sicat, B.L. & Kirkwood, C.K. (2006). Development Of A Competency-Based Assessment Process For Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 70, 10-1.

Ho, S., Kember, D., Lau, C., Yeung, M., Leung, D. & Chow, M. (2009). An Outcomes-Based Approach To Curriculum Development In Pharmacy. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 73, 1-14.

International Pharmaceutical Federation (2000). FIP Statement Of Policy On Good Pharmacy Education Practice, Vienna (online). Available at: http:// www. Accessed 26th February, 2015.

International Pharmaceutical Federation (2009). FIP Statement Of Policy Quality Assurance Of Pharmacy Education, Istanbul (online). Available at: http:// Accessed 3rd February, 2014.

International Pharmaceutical Federation Pharmacy Education Taskforce (2012). A Global Competency Framework For Services Provided By Pharmacy Workforce (online). Available at: pe_resources. Accessed 3rd February, 2015.

Kairuz, T., Case, S. & Shaw, J. (2007). Perceptions Of Graduates And Preceptors Regarding A New Pharmacy Programme. Pharmacy Education, 7, 151-157.

Kairuz, T., Noble, C. & Shaw, J. (2010). Preceptors, Interns, And Newly Registered Pharmacists' Perceptions Of New Zealand Pharmacy Graduates' Preparedness To Practice. Am J Pharm Educ, 74, 108.

Kapol, N., Maitreemit, P., Pongcharoensuk, P. & Armstrong, E. P. P. 2008. Evaluation Of Curricula Content Based On Thai Pharmacy Competency Standards. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 72, 1-09.

Katajavuori, N., Hakkarainen, K., Kuosa, T., Airaksinen, M., Hirvonen, J. & Holm, Y. (2009). Curriculum Reform In Finnish Pharmacy Education. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 73, 1-151.

Kelley, K.A., Beatty, S.J., Legg, J.E. & Mcauley, J.W. (2008). A Progress Assessment To Evaluate Pharmacy Students' Knowledge Prior To Beginning Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 72, 1-88.

Kelley, K.A. & Demb, A. (2006). Instrumentation For Comparing Student And Faculty Perceptions Of Competency-Based Assessment. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 70.

Kirkpatrick, M.A.F. & Pugh, C.B. (2001). Assessment Of Curricular Competency Outcomes. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 65, 217-224.

Liberati, A., Altman, D.G., Tetzlaff, J., Mulrow, C., Gotzsche, P.C., Ioannidis, J.P.A., Clarke, M., Devereaux, P.J., Kleijnen, J. & Moher, D. (2009). The Prisma Statement For Reporting Systematic Reviews And Meta- Analyses Of Studies That Evaluate Health Care Interventions: Explanation And Elaboration. PLOS Medicine, 6.

Lopez, T.C., Trang, D.D., Farrell, N.C., De Leon, M.A., Villarreal, C.C. & Maize, D.F. (2011). Development And Implementation Of A Curricular-Wide Electronic Portfolio System In A School Of Pharmacy. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 75, 1-89.

Marriott, J.L., Nation, R.L., Roller, L., Costelloe, M., Galbraith, K., Stewart, P. & Charman, W.N. (2008). Pharmacy Education In The Context Of Australian Practice. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 72, 1-131.

Mcduffie, C.H., Sheffield, M.C., Miller, M.S., Duke, L.J. & Rogers, S.P. (2010). Web-Based Portfolios For Pharmaceutical Care Plans During Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 74, 1-59.

Mcmahon N. & Henman, M. (2007). Introduction Of Competency Based Assessment To MSc In Hospital Pharmacy Programme. Monash And King's Pharmacy Education Symposium 2007. Prato, Italy: Pharmacy Education, 3.

Mészáros, K., Barnett, M.J., Mcdonald, K., Wehring, H., Evans, D.J., Sasaki-Hill, D., Goldsmith, P.C. & Knapp, K.K. (2009). Progress Examination For Assessing Students' Readiness For Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 73, 1-109.

Monaghan, M.S. & Jones, R.M. (2005). Designing An Assessment For An Abilities-Based Curriculum. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 69, 19.

Oliver, B., Von Konsky, B.R., Jones, S., Ferns, S. & Tucker, B. (2009). Curtin's Portfolio: Facilitating Student Achievement Of Graduate Attributes Within And Beyond The Formal Curriculum. Learning Communities: International Journal Of Learning In Social Contexts, 2, 4-15.

Oliver, B. & Whelan, B. (2011). Designing An E- Portfolio For Assurance Of Learning Focusing On Adoptability And Learning Analytics. Australasian Journal Of Educational Technology, 27, 1026-1041.

Petit, P., Foriers, A. & Rombaut, B. (2008a). The Introduction Of New Teaching Methods In Pharmacy Education-Ii. The Starting Point. Pharmacy Education, 8, 19-28.

Petit, P., Foriers, A. & Rombaut, B. (2008b). The Introduction Of New Teaching Methods In Pharmacy Education - I. Lessons Learned From History. Pharmacy Education, 8, 13-18.

Pharmacy Education R&D Reference Group (2004). Making Pharmacy Education Fit For The Future. Pharmacy Practice Research Strategy Investing In Knowledge, Taking Responsibility. London: Royal Pharmaceutical Society Of Great Britain.

Plaza, C.M., Draugalis, J.R., Slack, M.K., Skrepnek, G.H. & Sauer, K.A. (2007). Curriculum Mapping In Program Assessment And Evaluation. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 71, 20.

Reeve, E. (2013). Development And Feasability Of A Patient-Centred Deprescribing Process. PhD Thesis, University Of South Australia.

Ried, L.D., Nemire, R., Doty, R., Brickler, M.P., Anderson, H.H., Frenzel-Shepherd, E., Larose-Pierre, M. & Dugan, D. (2007). An Automated Competency-Based Student Performance Assessment Program For Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiential Programs. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 71, 128.

Shroff, R., Trent, J. & Ng, E. (2013). Using E-Portfolios In A Field Experience Placement: Examining Student- Teachers' Attitudes Towards Learning In Relationship To Personal Value, Control And Responsibility. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 29.

Smith, A. & Darracott, R. (2011). Review Of Pharmacist Undergraduate Education And Pre-Registration Training And Proposals For Reform. Modernising Pharmacy Careers Programme. London: Medical Education England.

Sosabowski, M.H. & Gard, P.R. (2008). Pharmacy Education In The United Kingdom. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 72, 1-130.

Spady, W. (1994). Outcome-Based Education: Critical Issues And Answers., Arlington, Virginia, American Association Of School Administrators.

Spady, W.G. (1988). Organizing For Results: The Basis Of Authentic Restructuring And Reform. Educational Leadership, 46, 4-8.

Stupans, I., Mcallister, S., Clifford, R., Hughes, J., Krass, I., March, G., Owen, S. & Woulfe, J. (2014). Nationwide Collaborative Development Of Learning Outcomes And Exemplar Standards For Australian Pharmacy Programmes. International Journal Of Pharmacy Practice.

Stupariu, I. (2012). Development And Evaluation Of A Professional Development Framework For Pharmacy Undergraduate Students To Support Their Learning In Professional Practice. PhD Thesis, University Of Bath.

Ten Cate, T.J.O., Snell, L. & Carraccio, C. (2010). Medical Competence: The Interplay Between Individual Ability And The Health Care Environment. Medical Teacher, 32, 669-675.

Van Der Vleuten, C.P. & Schuwirth, L.W. (2005). Assessing Professional Competence: From Methods To Programmes. Medical Education, 39, 309-317.

Von Konsky, B.R. & Oliver, B. (2012). The Iportfolio: Measuring Uptake And Effective Use Of An Institutional Electronic Portfolio In Higher Education. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 28, 67-90.

Wass, V., Van Der Vleuten, C., Shatzer, J. & Jones, R. (2001). Assessment Of Clinical Competence. The Lancet, 357, 945-949.

Watson, R., Stimpson, A., Topping, A. & Porock, D. (2002). Clinical Competence Assessment In Nursing: A Systematic Review Of The Literature. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 39, 421-431.

Whiddett, S. & Hollyforde, S. (2003). A Practical Guide To Competencies: How To Enhance Individual And Organisational Performance, Chartered Institute Of Personnel And Development Publishing.

Wilson, K. & Langley, C. (2010). Pharmacy Education And Accreditation Reviews (Pears) Project Dublin: Pharmaceutical Society Of Ireland.

Wright, R.W., Brand, R.A., Dunn, W. & Spindler, K.P. (2007). How To Write A Systematic Review. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, 455, 23-29.

Yeates, P., O'neill, P., Mann, K. & W Eva, K. (2013). ‘You're Certainly Relatively Competent’: Assessor Bias Due To Recent Experiences. Medical Education, 47, 910-922.





Research Article