2014 Continuing Professional Development Needs Assessment Survey

Executive Summary

(Survey closed June 10, 2014)


The practice of pharmacy continues to shift from a product centered business to a professional service focused model relying heavily on the clinical expertise of pharmacists.

As the profession continues to expand scope of practice, governments recognize the value of pharmacists as front line practitioners and are increasingly adding funded patient services. With the increase and complexity of provincially funded programs, increased scope of practice and the team based approach to health care in the province, pharmacists require timely and on-going professional development and education to support these changes and expansions.

As the provincial pharmacy advocacy organization, one of PAS’s mandates is to support pharmacist practice. Over the past several years, PAS has provided professional development support as funded services and programs become available. With a new strategic plan in the early stages of development, PAS anticipates that continuing professional development will be an even bigger priority for the organization in the coming years. The results of this survey will feed into the strategic plan while responding to the direct needs identified by PAS pharmacists to support their practice.

Highlight Summary of Results

The survey measured 236 participants on the topics of access and usage of electronic communication and educational resources, cost coverage for professional development and preferences for professional development presentation formats. The survey also provided for objective and subjective feedback on level of pharmaceutical and professional service knowledge.

  • 84.5% cited RxFiles as one of the most commonly access rescources, 65% Lexicomp, 60% CPS, 50% eTherapeutics, 37%  SHIRP and 35% medSask with many others at significantly lesser usage.
  • Smartphone App usage is on the rise with Lexicomp cited most often used, and eGFR, Drugs & Bugs, RxFiles and iPharmacist as notable mentions.
  • With respect to social media, 95% of respondents access the PAS website for practice, 24% Facebook (biggest user 6-10 yr pharmacists @52%) and Twitter 9.3% (biggest user 6-10 yr pharmacists @ 24%).
  • 50% of respondents use text message for practice, with the biggest users in the 16-20 yr category of practice @ 64%.
  • Surprisingly, 20% of respondents do not have access to workplace email. 50% do not have access to personal email on their work computers.
  • 93% of respondents self-identified themselves as “confident to very confident” in their level of pharmaceutical knowledge. 63% thought that current professional development sessions were just right and 36% thought they were too basic.
  • Only 1% of respondents identified professional development sessions as “too hard”. However, in an attempt for more objective measurements that might correlate the level of respondent’s pharmaceutical knowledge, the survey asked about level of confidence when calculating, interpreting, assessing or addressing several fundamental and common chronic disease management tools or measurements.
  • The percentage of respondents who self-identified as “less than confident” to “not at all confident” in calculating, interpreting, assessing or addressing the following for their patients (when applicable) were: 60% Framingham Risk Assessment, 51% Creatinine Clearance, 47% lipid profile, 37% INR, 28% blood glucose and A1C.
  • With respect to Creatinine Clearance, the level of confidence calculating, interpreting etc. generally declined with increasing years of practice. Of note: 100% of the 6-10 year pharmacists felt that professional development sessions were too basic or just right, 41% and 59% respectively), yet 31% were not confident or not at all confident calculating, interpreting etc. creatinine clearance.
  • Some of this information could indicate that some pharmacists are not as competent as they believe they are with respect to their level of “pharmaceutical knowledge”, depending on their definition of words.
  • It appears as though respondents with residency training were more likely to self-identify as having a higher level of confidence in their pharmaceutical knowledge as well as being more likely to be confident in calculating, interpreting, assessing or addressing the various chronic disease management tools or measurements.
  • The percentage of respondents that “never to sometimes” address (when applicable), the following for their patients were: Framingham Risk Assessment 86%, BMI 84%,  Creatinine Clearance 60%, A1C 49%, Lipids 60%, INR 46%.
  • 68% of respondents felt they were “not, or not at all confident in their level of documentation knowledge” for PACT, and 48% were interested or very interested in receiving more support. 40% of respondents felt they were not or not at all confident with SMAP documentation, and 76% identified as interested or very interested in receiving more support for SMAP.
  • The level of comfort providing professional services such as SMAP and PACT remained relatively consistent with years of practice.
  • There were no identifiable trends in areas of clinical knowledge requests, although some of the top requests were in the areas labelled as: Diabetes management, Geriatrics, Anticoagulation Management, Psychiatry, Women’s Health and Pulmonary Disease. However, almost all topics had very high interest from respondents.
  • With respect to non-clinical knowledge requests, the percentages of respondents that were “interested to very interested” in the following were: 73% team communication and development, 65% maximizing technician support, 64% dispensary workflow, 51% pharmacy management.
  • With respect to who is paying for continuing professional development, 28% of pharmacists have full employer coverage of CPD sessions, 38% have partial employer coverage and 27% have no employer coverage.
  • The preferred formats for sessions were (could note more than one) live: 84%, and newsletters, self-directed, webinar and telehealth were all approximately 50%.
  • Respondents, in order of preference, most preferred: lectures and presentations, followed closely by self-directed, case study, multi-disciplinary learning and group discussions. Role playing was least preferred.
  • The ideal professional development programs (based pragmatism of the respondents lifestyles) were: 60% online/at home/at own pace over time and 47% online/at home in one complete sitting, 43% 1 hour webinar, 34% 2-3 hour live, 32% 1 hour live. Social media snippets, defined as “brief clinical/therapeutic information” were preferred by 17% of respondents.
  • 69% preferred a weekday after 7pm and 31% preferred a weekend morning for programs to take place.


It could be concluded that that although many respondents feel their level of pharmaceutical knowledge is adequate, there are a large proportion of respondents that may not have the fundamental knowledge that is required for higher level practice.

Also, respondents seem very interested in all areas of clinical knowledge development, as well as intra and inter-disciplinary communication and teamwork.

Although respondents mostly often prefer in person learning via lectures and presentations, the most pragmatic learning for their lifestyles is some form self-directed and self-paced learning.