Assessment of pharmacist's patient care competencies: Validity evidence from Ontario (Canada)'s quality assurance and Peer Review process

Zubin Austin, Anthony Marini, Della Croteau, Claudio Violato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Maintenance of competence is integral to health care practitioners' continuing professional development. The adequacy and value of indirect assessment of competence (through, for example, learning portfolios or attendance at educational events) has been questioned. Direct assessment (such as written tests of clinical knowledge or objective structured clinical examinations, OSCEs) has been advocated as a more meaningful indicator of a practitioner's competence. This paper describes the Ontario (Canada) College of Pharmacists' experience with direct assessment through the Peer Review/Quality Assurance process. This process consists of a self-assessment questionnaire, ongoing maintenance of a learning portfolio, a written test of clinical knowledge, and an OSCE. Each year, a randomly selected group of pharmacists in Ontario undertake the Peer Review process. After five years of operation, 992 pharmacists had participated in this program; 86% of participants met or exceeded standards and were encouraged to continue with their own professional development while 14% of participants did not meet standards in identified assessment areas, and were directed to a peer-assisted process to facilitate professional development. Findings suggest individuals who were educated outside Canada or the United States, those in community pharmacy practice, and those who had been in practice 25 years or more demonstrated greatest difficulty in meeting standards. The implications of these results for pharmacy practice and professional development are discussed as are issues related to direct and indirect assessment of clinical skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-32
Number of pages10
JournalPharmacy Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2004


  • Competency assessment
  • Direct assessment
  • Maintenance of competence
  • Pharmacy education


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