Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education
Definition of Continuing Education for the Profession of Pharmacy

What is the definition of continuing education?

Continuing education for the profession of pharmacy is a structured process of education designed or intended to support the continuous development of pharmacists to maintain and enhance their professional competence.  Continuing education should promote problem-solving and critical thinking and be applicable to the practice of pharmacy.

What does 'applicable to the practice of pharmacy’ mean?

For guidance in organizing and developing program content, consideration should be given to relating offerings to one or more professional competencies*, which may include, but are not limited to:

a. evaluating drug orders and/or prescriptions;
b. manufacturing or compounding drugs in appropriate dosage forms;
c. packaging and dispensing dosage forms;
d. managing systems for storing, preparing, and dispensing medicines, and supervising technical personnel who may be involved in such practices;
e. managing and administering a pharmacy, pharmacy practice, and/or pharmacy benefits management program;
f. evaluating the practice of pharmacy care in all practice settings;
g. applying computer skills and technological advancements to practice;
h. communicating with healthcare and other professionals and patients regarding rational drug therapy, wellness, health promotion, and associated social and behavioral factors;
i. designing, implementing, monitoring, evaluating, and modifying or recommending modifications in drug therapy to insure effective, safe, and economical patient care;
j. identifying, assessing, and solving medication-related problems and providing a clinical judgment as to the continuing effectiveness of therapeutic plans and intended therapeutic outcomes for individuals and patient populations;
k. conducting patient assessments, evaluating patient problems, and ordering and monitoring medications and/or laboratory tests in accordance with established standards of practice;
l. triaging patients to other health professionals as appropriate;
m. administering medications;
n. monitoring patients and patient populations regarding the purposes, uses, effects and pharmacoeconomics of their medication and related therapy;
o. counseling patients regarding the purposes, uses, and effects of their medication and related therapy;
p. integrating relevant diet, nutritional and non-drug therapy;
q. recommending, counseling, and monitoring patient use of non-prescription drugs, devices, and durable medical equipment;
r. retrieving, evaluating, utilizing, and managing data and professional resources (e.g., literature, national disease state guidelines, disease state practice standards);
s. using clinical, economic, or other data to optimize therapeutic drug regimens;
t. collaborating with other health professionals;
u. documenting interventions and evaluating pharmacy care outcomes;
v. integrating pharmacy practice within healthcare environments and national standards for the quality of healthcare;
w. designing, supervising, conducting, and analyzing outcomes or other research;
x. applying pharmacy law and ethical judgment to practice; and
y. retrieving, evaluating and managing professional information and literature.

*Adapted from ACPE’s Accreditation Standards and Guidelines for the Professional Program in Pharmacy Leading to the Doctor of Pharmacy Degree (Standards 2000) and Standards and Quality Assurance Procedure for ACPE-Accredited Providers of Continuing Pharmaceutical Education Offering Certificate Programs in Pharmacy.  (Note: With the announced revision of Standards 2000, the competencies for professional degree programs and continuing education offerings will be unified in the future).

What are the responsibilities of an ACPE-accredited provider?

It is the responsibility of the provider to assure that each offering complies with the Definition of Continuing Education, be applicable to the practice of pharmacy, and adheres to ACPE Criteria for Quality and Interpretive Guidelines.

As outlined in the ACPE Criteria for Quality and Interpretive Guidelines, every ACPE-accredited provider is ultimately responsible for program planning, faculty selection, content of the offering, site selection, method of delivery, and assurance that the program is fair, balanced and free from bias and/or promotion.  In addition, the provider is responsible for explaining and guiding the faculty in its expectations regarding development of learning objectives and instructional materials and incorporation of active learning and learning assessment mechanisms within the offering.

Have questions?

If you have any questions as to what constitutes continuing pharmaceutical education, please contact the ACPE staff at [email protected] or phone 312-664-3575.


PhRMA Guidelines