|The Continuous Professional Development (CPD) format needs to be re-engineered|
The Pharmacy Council (PC) is mandated by Section 79 of the Health Professions Regulatory Bodies Act 2013, Act 857 Part 4, to ensure the sustenance of high standards of pharmacy practice in Ghana. The Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH), as part of its advocacy roles, helps to regulate the training of pharmacy students and encourages the pursuit of research activities for the development of pharmaceutical knowledge. The PC works in close collaboration with PSGH to secure the observance of high standards of professional conduct and uphold the dignity of the pharmacy profession. The council prescribes, monitors, and evaluates the standards of practice to achieve its vision and mission of ensuring that pharmaceutical service providers practice within agreed standards. The PC, therefore, accredits institutions, agencies, and firms to conduct Continuous Professional Development (CPD) programs for pharmacists.
Pharmacy is a dynamic profession that involves introduction of new pharmaceutical products, accumulation of clinical experience with existing pharmaceuticals, discovery of new knowledge regarding disease processes, and provision of appropriate medication therapy on a daily basis. As a result, it is hopelessly impractical to expect that undergraduate training in pharmacy (either B. Pharm or Pharm D), passing the Ghana Pharmacy Professional Qualifying Examination (GPPQE) together with subsequent registration and licensing of pharmacists adequately ensures acquisition of the needed knowledge and skills for effective practice. It is imperative that pharmacists strive to continuously bring themselves up to standards in order to be well equipped to meet challenges that are associated with the practice of pharmacy. Thus, it is necessary to have CPD programs for all registered pharmacists. Moreover, in doing so, the shared vision of the PC and PSGH to guarantee the highest level of pharmaceutical care to the public is satisfied.
In recent times, many pharmacists have questioned the impact of CPD sessions on their practice, beyond the programs being a pre-requisite for annual license renewal. Furthermore, most CPD programs are organized in the two major cities in Ghana, Accra and Kumasi. However, there are pharmacists in each region of the country, raising concerns about the ease of equal accessibility for all pharmacists. It was not uncommon last year to see some pharmacists attempting to travel all over Ghana in search of CPD credits. Moreover, the numbers admitted per session are usually overwhelming, which does not foster proper assimilation of the topics discussed. Again, it appears that there is no uniformity in the organization of these programs as the credit points and fees charged vary. Not only do CPDs in the same category attract different credits, what’s more, the amount surcharged for the same CPD may vary significantly depending on where and when it is held. Unfortunately, CPD credits have ostensibly become bait for luring members to attend Annual General Meetings (AGMs). Many a pharmacist swore earlier this year never to attend AGMs if they could only derive a paltry 2 CPD credits from attending such gatherings. As a response, and perhaps to avoid recording the perennial low attendance associated with AGMs held outside of Accra and Kumasi, the planning committee for this year’s AGM is promising a credit score of up to 8 for members that will be attending the Ho confab. Whether justifiable or not, the manner in which we run our CPD sessions is fast becoming self-defeating and ought to be re-engineered immediately.
In order to help align how CPD programs are administered, the PSGH embarked on a “Needs Assessment” in 2016 and 2017 to identify the gaps in capacity building for pharmacists which required urgent attention. The Needs Assessment Committee was tasked with the responsibility of liaising with the PC and ensuring that CPDs are well coordinated and impactful. Based on the findings of the committee, relevant topics were submitted to the PC for implementation in 2018. Surprisingly, the recommendations from the Needs Assessment Committee appear to have been overlooked, with several CPD topics that are not aligned with the expectations of pharmacists being accredited and offered by a myriad of institutions. Most members have not questioned why the PC has departed from the findings of the Needs Assessment Committee since their primary preoccupation lies with obtaining the required credit points for re-licensure. Sadly, this only reinforces the ineffectiveness of the CPD initiative in its current format. The PSGH must as a matter of urgency re-engage with the PC and ensure that the findings and solutions proffered by the committee are adhered to.
Lastly, it is too late in this age of technology to rely exclusively on classroom settings with didactic models of teaching as the only means of administering CPDs. Moreover, our numbers increase year on year. In this day and age, online CPD trainings are long overdue! The PSGH and PC should embrace online CPDs now!