Mandatory continuing education for pharmacists in a developing country: assessment of a three-year cycle
Background: In Lebanon, mandatory continuing education (CE) for pharmacists was implemented in January 2014.
Objective: The objectives of this study are to assess 1) the overall adherence to the mandatory CE program, 2) pharmacists’ preferences related to CE, and 3) barriers to adherence to CE.
Methods: By the end of October 2017, an evaluation of pharmacists’ participation in the mandatory CE program was conducted using electronic reports available in the Learning Management System (LMS). Descriptive results were presented as frequencies and percentages. In addition, a cross-sectional survey was conducted among pharmacists to better understand their preferences and barriers to their participation to the CE program. Finally, a focus group was organized with pharmacists who did not start their CE.
Results: Out of all registered pharmacists in Lebanon, 68.30% started their CE and 25.6% already achieved their required credits. Among pharmacists enrolled in the CE system, the majority (69%) used the online courses at least once. Moreover, CE enrolment was similar among old and young pharmacists except for those newly registered. The majority of pharmacists preferred clinical and pharmacological topics, followed by preventive medicine and transferable skills. Barriers to engaging in CE were mainly work and family obligations, lack of interest, lack of time, and difficulties in commuting and technology use.
Conclusion: Although results of the present study are similar to those in developing countries, the resistance to change is higher. The Lebanese Pharmacists Association [Ordre des Pharmaciens du Liban] should develop strategies to motivate and enroll more pharmacists in the CE system, based on the barriers and preferences cited in the results, while continuing to offer high quality and cost-favorable CE programs to Lebanese pharmacists.
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