Ensuring continuing fitness to practice in the pharmacy workforce: Understanding the challenges of revalidation

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Abstract

Background

Revalidation is about assuring that health practitioners remain up to date and fit to practice, and demonstrating that they continue to meet the requirements of their professional regulator.

Objectives

To critically discuss issues that need to be considered when designing a system of revalidation for pharmacy professionals. Although providing international context, the article focuses in particular on Great Britain (GB), where both pharmacists (Phs) and pharmacy technicians (PTs) are regulated.

Methods

Following a brief historical overview, the article draws on emerging evidence in context.

Results

Revalidation may involve discrete periodic assessment or a continuous process of assessment against clearly identified standards. The evolving scope of pharmacy practice involves increasingly clinical roles and also practitioners in nonpatient-facing roles. The potential risk to patients and the public may require consideration. Although revalidation, or systems for recertification/relicensure, exist in numerous jurisdictions, most center on the collection of continuing education credits; continuous professional development and reflective practice are increasingly found. Revalidation may involve assessment of other sources, such as appraisals or monitoring visits. Existing revalidation systems are coordinated centrally, but particularly in larger jurisdictions, like GB, where approximately 67,000 pharmacy professionals are regulated, some responsibility may need to be devolved. This would require engagement with employers and contracting organizations to ensure suitability and consistency. Existing systems, such as company appraisals, are unfit for the assessment of fitness to practice owing to a focus on organizational/business targets. Certain groups of pharmacy professionals may pose particular challenges, such as self-employed locums, pharmacy owners, those working in different sectors, or returning after a break.

Conclusions

To ensure proportionality, it must be considered whether the same standards and/or sources of evidence should apply to all pharmacy professionals, either dependent on whether they are patient facing, their scope of practice, or whether Phs and PTs should be treated differently.

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