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27.04.2018 | Original Article | Ausgabe 3/2018 Open Access

Perspectives on Medical Education 3/2018

How are competency frameworks perceived and taught?

An exploratory study in the context of pharmacy education

Perspectives on Medical Education > Ausgabe 3/2018
Elise Paradis, Rebecca Zhao, Jamie Kellar, Alison Thompson



Faculties of Pharmacy worldwide have to adapt their curriculum to accreditation criteria. The present study explored how the Association of Faculties of Pharmacy of Canada’s (AFPC’s) 2010 Educational Outcomes are perceived and taught at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy (LDFP). These outcomes were adapted from the CanMeds Physician Competency Framework which describes both medical expert and non-expert roles.


We wondered if pharmacy would struggle, as medicine has, to integrate these roles into curricula in meaningful ways, given the absence of previous studies from Pharmacy. We conducted an exploratory interview study with 10 core faculty members in charge of courses where non-expert roles were taught. Data were analysed using conventional content analysis.


Faculty members understood that the AFPC Outcomes are important for students, patients, and the profession of pharmacy, and some saw the roles as knowledge-based and teachable using content from academic disciplines. However, most saw them as skills taught informally or through clinical experience. They used the roles as a framing device to legitimize their course content and relied on informal role modelling to do most of the teaching. The few faculty members who taught content related to these roles had postgraduate education in a social science or humanities discipline.


Similar to studies of Faculties of Medicine, our study highlights the difficulty of translating a role-based, competency framework into concrete, integrated curricula for students. Competency development should be explicitly embedded into the curriculum and cannot be left to individual instructors.
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