Tuesday, May 10, 2016

In February 2015 the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy invited over 55 representatives from Drake University, Iowa’s community colleges and additional national, state, and other pharmacy organizations to discuss future perspectives on pharmacy technician roles and education, with particular attention to the upcoming changes in requirements for eligibility to sit for the certification exam provided by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). The Iowa Pharmacy Technician Education Summit marked the beginning of a now ongoing process to develop an accredited, coordinated pharmacy technician education program available across the state of Iowa.

The Iowa Pharmacy Technician Curriculum Task Force was formed from volunteers attending the Summit who agreed to begin to work on a coordinated curriculum that could be delivered by all 15 of Iowa’s community colleges. The curriculum would meet the new ASHP/ACPE “Accreditation Standards for Pharmacy Technician Education and Training Programs” and would seek accreditation status by 2020, the year all applicants for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) must be graduates of accredited pharmacy technician training programs.

The Task Force met three times in the year following the Summit. The June 2015 meeting focused on discussions of course content provided by existing pharmacy technician education and gaps in content relative to the ASHP/ACPE accreditation standards.

In August 2015, the Task Force continued to discuss the development of new curricular content. Small working groups were formed to review textbooks and to develop common experiential clinical site competencies and objectives, and preliminary discussions regarding the composition of a consortium of community colleges that would participate in the coordinated curriculum were initiated. A small pilot group concept to offer and test portions of the coordinated curriculum was proposed. It was also determined that the Task Force had reached a point in the planning process where input from the Iowa Department of Education would be beneficial in order to gain insight regarding any additional requirements that would need to be met by a coordinated program offering from multiple Iowa community colleges.

The most recent meeting of the Task Force was held in January 2016. The small working groups presented their recommendations regarding textbooks, common experiential objectives, and an additional report was presented on the potential to include adaptive learning in the new curricular offerings. The pharmacy technician programs from both Indian Hills Community College (IHCC) and Western Iowa Tech Community College (WITCC) volunteered to participate in the Small Program Pilot Group to plan and test new curricular components and coordinate all course objectives in an effort to align their curricula with the ASHP/ACPE accreditation standards. Following the 2016-17 pilot year, the opportunity to expand the pilot group will be discussed among the interested community colleges and appropriate curricular plan will be submitted for approval by the Iowa Department of Education. Upon approval, this timeline will allow additional pilot testing of a statewide coordinated curriculum during the 2017-18 academic year and would be followed by preparations for an accreditation evaluation during the 2018-19 or 2019-20 academic years.

For additional information regarding the Iowa Pharmacy Technician Education Task Force, the pilot group activities, or to share your ideas with the Task Force, contact Maureen Donovan, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, and Professor, Pharmaceutics and Translational Therapeutics, at maureen-donovan@uiowa.edu or 319-335-9697.

This article was originally published in the Iowa Pharmacy Association's Journal.