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      Reviewing Competence in Practice: Reform of Continuing Professional Development for Irish Pharmacists

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          There has been significant reform of the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements for Irish pharmacists over the past five years. In 2015, a new system was established that includes quality assurance of practitioner engagement in CPD and quality assurance of practitioner competence. Pharmacists must now plan and document their learning activities in an electronic portfolio (ePortfolio) and they must participate in an ePortfolio Review process once every five-year period. A random sample is chosen each year to participate in a review of their practice for pharmacists in patient-facing roles. This paper provides an overview of the development and implementation of these quality assurance processes and it considers the outcomes that were observed in the first four years of implementation. By April 2019, almost 3000 pharmacists had participated in the ePortfolio Review process over the preceding three years, of which 96.2% demonstrated appropriate engagement in CPD. In the preceding two years, almost 200 pharmacists had participated in Practice Review, of which 97.5% have demonstrated the required level of competence across four competencies. All of the pharmacists who did not demonstrate the required level of competence in one or more competency area during Practice Review had previously demonstrated appropriate engagement in CPD through the ePortfolio Review process. This raises interesting questions regarding the use of engagement in continuing education (CE) or CPD as a surrogate measure for competence by professions.

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          Most cited references 34

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          Assessing professional competence: from methods to programmes.

          We use a utility model to illustrate that, firstly, selecting an assessment method involves context-dependent compromises, and secondly, that assessment is not a measurement problem but an instructional design problem, comprising educational, implementation and resource aspects. In the model, assessment characteristics are differently weighted depending on the purpose and context of the assessment. Of the characteristics in the model, we focus on reliability, validity and educational impact and argue that they are not inherent qualities of any instrument. Reliability depends not on structuring or standardisation but on sampling. Key issues concerning validity are authenticity and integration of competencies. Assessment in medical education addresses complex competencies and thus requires quantitative and qualitative information from different sources as well as professional judgement. Adequate sampling across judges, instruments and contexts can ensure both validity and reliability. Despite recognition that assessment drives learning, this relationship has been little researched, possibly because of its strong context dependence. When assessment should stimulate learning and requires adequate sampling, in authentic contexts, of the performance of complex competencies that cannot be broken down into simple parts, we need to make a shift from individual methods to an integral programme, intertwined with the education programme. Therefore, we need an instructional design perspective. Programmatic instructional design hinges on a careful description and motivation of choices, whose effectiveness should be measured against the intended outcomes. We should not evaluate individual methods, but provide evidence of the utility of the assessment programme as a whole.
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            Adult learning theories: implications for learning and teaching in medical education: AMEE Guide No. 83.

            There are many theories that explain how adults learn and each has its own merits. This Guide explains and explores the more commonly used ones and how they can be used to enhance student and faculty learning. The Guide presents a model that combines many of the theories into a flow diagram which can be followed by anyone planning learning. The schema can be used at curriculum planning level, or at the level of individual learning. At each stage of the model, the Guide identifies the responsibilities of both learner and educator. The role of the institution is to ensure that the time and resources are available to allow effective learning to happen. The Guide is designed for those new to education, in the hope that it can unravel the difficulties in understanding and applying the common learning theories, whilst also creating opportunities for debate as to the best way they should be used.
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              Defining and assessing professional competence


                Author and article information

                Pharmacy (Basel)
                Pharmacy (Basel)
                Pharmacy: Journal of Pharmacy Education and Practice
                20 June 2019
                June 2019
                : 7
                : 2
                [1 ]School of Healthcare, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK; m.c.kennedy@
                [2 ]Irish Institute of Pharmacy, based at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), D02 FP84 Dublin, Ireland; aislingreast@ (A.R.); katherinemorrow@ (K.M.); frankbourke@ (F.B.); clairemmurphy@ (C.M.)
                [3 ]Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), D02 YN77 Dublin, Ireland; rarnett@
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: catrionabradley@ ; Tel.: +353-1-402-5111
                © 2019 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (



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