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A systematic review of contemporary competency-based education and training for pharmacy practitioners and students

McMullen, Jessica; Arakawa, Naoko; Anderson, Claire; Pattison, Luke; McGrath, Simon

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Jessica McMullen

Luke Pattison

Simon McGrath


Background: The use of competency-based education (CBE) worldwide is increasing and has been advocated for by key reports in health professional education. Recent developments, including the first global competency framework for pharmacists published by the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) in 2012, can help facilitate CBE adoption. However, adopting CBE is complex and involves various features and stages of development.

Objective: This systematic review examines pharmacy education and training to identify features of CBE-related approaches currently in use worldwide to develop a picture of contemporary CBE-related activity in pharmacy for the purpose of guiding future development.

Method: Scopus, Web of Science, Medline, Embase, and ERIC electronic databases were searched to identify relevant literature. Studies associated with CBE or training of pharmacy practitioners and related postgraduate or undergraduate students were included. Studies were limited to those published in English from 2010 to 2021. Two authors performed the screening and selection of studies, and a 3rd author resolved any discrepancies. The review followed PRSIMA guidelines and was registered with PROSPERO under CRD42022296424. The findings were analysed using an inductive approach and presented descriptively.

Results: Twenty-eight studies were included in the review, all of which originate from high-income countries, spanning a range of educational levels and research designs. A total of 20 features and 21 supporting components were identified and categorised, connected to those previously identified in the closely linked medical literature, and categorised into 6 overarching themes: design, teaching and learning, feedback and assessment, faculty, resources, and internal and external factors. A collective understanding of the concept of competency, in combination with a shared vision between education, regulation, and practice, underpins successful application of the CBE approach.

Conclusions: This review summarises common features of CBE across the globe which can be used to guide further developments in pharmacy education. Mutual consensus on the design and delivery of CBE features ensures that the intended learning outcomes are in alignment with the learner's experience and congruent with the realities of pharmacy practice.


McMullen, J., Arakawa, N., Anderson, C., Pattison, L., & McGrath, S. (2023). A systematic review of contemporary competency-based education and training for pharmacy practitioners and students. Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy, 19(2), 192-217.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 25, 2022
Online Publication Date Sep 30, 2022
Publication Date 2023-02
Deposit Date Oct 18, 2022
Publicly Available Date Oct 21, 2022
Journal Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy
Print ISSN 1551-7411
Publisher Elsevier BV
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 19
Issue 2
Pages 192-217
Keywords Pharmaceutical Science; Pharmacy
Public URL
Publisher URL


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