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Ensuring New Pharmacists are Practice and Patient Ready

Published on 22 July 2016

For more than 150 years, St. Louis College of Pharmacy has been graduating pharmacists that are practice- and team-ready. That long history will be put to use in a special session at the 2016 American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) Annual Meeting discussing Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs) for new pharmacy graduates.

The idea of EPAs is relatively new according to Brenda Gleason, Pharm.D., professor of pharmacy practice and associate dean for academic affairs. She defines an EPA as a specific task or responsibility that trainees can be entrusted to perform without direct supervision once they have demonstrated sufficient competence. Examples include collecting a patient’s medication history, reconciling their medication list and talking about any discrepancies with both the patient and fellow health care providers.

The concept of EPAs was first developed in health care education in 2014. AACP charged its most recent Academic Affairs Committee, of which Gleason is a member, to identify EPAs for graduating pharmacists.

“EPAs translate the requisite knowledge, skill and attitudinal competencies into the practice of pharmacy in a way that makes sense and is recognizable to patients, other health care professionals, employers and the public,” Gleason said. “We’re coming together at AACP to work on a consistent agreement across academic pharmacy defining those core EPAs.”

Gleason says EPA concepts have long been intertwined in the College’s curriculum. The current national conversation is an opportunity, she believes, to formalize their inclusion across all colleges of pharmacy.

“EPAs ensure trust by defining what a new pharmacist can be counted on to do upon entering practice or postgraduate training,” Gleason said. “Trust is such a vital component when providing care to the patients we serve. Patients trust their pharmacists, and members of the interprofessional health care team must trust each other to deliver coordinated care.”

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