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Pharmacy Continuing Education

Pharmacy Continuing Education

Looking into Pharmacy Continuing Education

Pharmacy continuing education is essential for pharmacists to maintain the high level of skill required to operate efficiently in their field. New breakthroughs in medicine constantly change the practice of pharmacy in the U.S. so pharmacists also need to remain well informed as the FDA passes new drugs and pharmaceutical companies package new products.


Pharmacy continuing education, or CPE, is a necessary part of any pharmacist's career . Each of the 51 medical boards (50 states plus DC) require practicing pharmacists to achieve a certain number of acceptable CPE credits before renewing his or her pharmacist's license.

The requirements for the number and type of CPE credits differ by state. Most state pharmacy boards require 15 CPE contact hours per one year period with a majority of the credits coming from live presentations. A CPE contact hour is considered 50 minutes of educational time. One Continuing Education Unit (CEU), on the other hand, equals 10 'contact hours'.

CPE courses must be approved by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). These courses do not necessarily fall under the Category 1 classification system used by the American Medical Association to accredit continuing medical education programs. The ACPE provides a database of continuing education programs called the 'Pharmacists' Learning Assistance Network' or P.L.A.N. The P.L.A.N. program was implemented to 'allow pharmacists the opportunity to pursue a curricular approach to professional development through organization and planning of their continuing pharmacy education needs'.

Some good resources for pharmacists looking into pharmacy continuing education programs:

The American Pharmacists Association (APhA), originally founded as the American Pharmaceutical Association, is 'the first established and largest professional association of pharmacists in the United States'. With over 50,000 members, APhA is composed of practicing pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, and pharmacy technicians. Find them at www.aphanet.org.

The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) is an independent agency composed of directors from a variety of national organizations for pharmacists. The ACPE provides information for pharmacists, pharmacy students and pharmacy technicians (www.acpe-accredit.org).

All 89 pharmacy colleges and schools in the U.S. belong to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP). The AACP is a national organization that provides information on all aspects of pharmacy education at www.aacp.org.

National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) set the standards for state requirements in pharmacy licensing. NABP is responsible for administering the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination to those who want to practice pharmacy. Their website is www.nabp.org.