Professionalism: A Core Academic Competency

Professionalism is fundamental to the practice of pharmacy and is a core competency of the UCSF PharmD curriculum.1 Upon graduation, pharmacy students must demonstrate the personal attributes and actions central to pharmacy practice.2 These guidelines have been developed to define the standards of professionalism critical to the education and development of PharmD graduates who will be leaders and effective team members in health care and lifelong experts in the safe and effective use of medicines

Pharmacy students, faculty and staff share collective responsibility for creating and maintaining an educational environment that promotes professionalism. Through the guidance of faculty and the example set by practicing pharmacists, pharmacy students develop and exercise the actions, attitudes and behaviors consistent with a professional environment. A set of principles that include patient-centered care, respect, integrity, service, responsibility and pursuit of excellence provide a foundation for the development of professionalism in academic, professional and administrative settings.3 These professionalism standards are implemented with a focus on the education and development of the individual pharmacy student.

I. UCSF PharmD student principles

Background

As a pharmacy student in the University of California, San Francisco School of Pharmacy, I acknowledge the privilege I have been afforded to study pharmacy. In accepting this privilege, I recognize that I am devoting my professional life to the service of humankind, and agree that throughout my education and career, I will uphold the pharmacist code of ethics4 which states:

  • A pharmacist respects the covenantal relationship between patient and pharmacist
  • A pharmacist promotes the good of every patient in a caring, compassionate, and confidential manner
  • A pharmacist respects the autonomy and dignity of each patient
  • A pharmacist acts with honesty and integrity in professional relationships
  • A pharmacist maintains professional competence
  • A pharmacist respects the values and abilities of colleagues and other health professionals
  • A pharmacist serves individual, community and societal needs
  • A pharmacist seeks justice in the distribution of health resources

In recognition that I, as a pharmacy student, represent the UCSF School of Pharmacy at all times, whether in an academic, professional or administrative setting, I agree to uphold the following principles:

Patient-centered care

  • I will strive to promote patients' well-being by providing humanistic care.5
  • I will be empathetic to the needs, values and perspectives of patients, their family members and caregivers.
  • I will treat patients in a dignified and supportive manner.
  • I will respond to patients needs and wishes in a timely, safe and effective manner.

Respect

  • I will treat my fellow students, faculty, staff, patients and the public, with respect and dignity.
  • I will respect the rights, privacy and confidentiality of others.
  • I will treat all people without prejudice or discrimination.

Integrity

  • I will be honest and trustworthy in discharging my academic and professional responsibilities.
  • I will make decisions based upon sound evidence that is consistent with the values of my profession and the best interest of patients.
  • I will respect the physical and intellectual property of others.
  • I will neither give nor receive aid in course examinations, requirements or assignments unless such cooperation is explicitly permitted by the instructor.

Service

  • I will promote the safe, efficacious and cost-effective use of medications.
  • I will serve as a mentor for other health professional students when called upon.
  • I will collaborate with other health care providers, the public and patients to improve the quality of care.
  • I will serve as an advocate for patients and for the profession.

Responsibility

  • I will conduct myself professionally through my actions, attitudes and appearance.
  • I will adhere to applicable policies, procedures and guidelines.
  • I will act responsibly and will be accountable for my decisions, recommendations and actions.
  • I will protect and uphold patient confidentiality.

Responsiveness & adaptability

  • I will act to improve health care and health care education.
  • I will take every opportunity to develop and maintain my interest in, and enthusiasm for the profession.
  • I will actively participate in educational opportunities to expand my professional competence.
  • I will recognize my own limitations and seek appropriate assistance in resolving issues that exceed my experience.
  • I will provide and accept constructive feedback.

II. Professionalism guidelines and procedures

Faculty and members of the School administration support the development of professionalism through advising, mentoring and feedback, and by serving as role models. This process is inherently interactive, with the goal of helping students who need assistance developing their professional skills.

Faculty who are concerned about a pharmacy student's behavior are expected to meet with the pharmacy student to make suggestions for improvement. If the behavior is repeated or is of a serious nature, a Professionalism Concerns Report should be filed.

Instances of academic dishonesty including but not limited to cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, theft or forgery, whether in an examination or other course obligation should be addressed through the School of Pharmacy Policy on Student Misconduct in Academic Studies.

PDF iconProfessionalism Concerns Report (PCR).pdf

A Professionalism Concerns Report (PCR) provides a mechanism to work with pharmacy students in the development of professional behavior and includes examples of actions that are not consistent with expectations for professionalism for pharmacy students. Rapid turnaround of feedback to pharmacy students whenever information becomes available is a goal of this evaluation process. The Course Coordinator, Program Director or Associate Dean is encouraged to meet with a pharmacy student who does not meet professionalism standards as soon as concerns are raised.

In the event attempts to give the pharmacy student feedback about issues of concern have been unsuccessful or if the behavior is of a significant or serious nature, a PCR will be completed by the Course Coordinator, Program Director or Associate Dean.

Pharmacy students in IPPEs, APPEs or any other patient care setting who do not demonstrate adequate professional and personal attributes (i.e., those who receive ratings of less than 3 on the professionalism section on any evaluation) will be evaluated further by the Program Director or Course Coordinator. A PCR may be completed by the Program Director or Course Coordinator to identify areas in which improvement is needed.

A PCR must be filed within three weeks from the time the behavior was observed or reported.

The faculty member or Associate Dean who has completed the PCR will meet with the pharmacy student to discuss ways in which the behavior can be improved, thus allowing the pharmacy student adequate opportunity to make appropriate changes. The pharmacy student is asked to sign the PCR to acknowledge that the PCR has been reviewed. The pharmacy students may provide additional information in response to the PCR. The PCR is forwarded to the Professionalism Liaison, a member of the faculty designated to oversee professionalism issues. If a pharmacy student receives a PCR, he/she meets with the Professionalism Liaison for counseling and remediation. The goal of the meeting is to discuss the issue, interventions and any academic consequences of a PCR. The focus of this process is educational with the goal of helping the pharmacy student move forward successfully in coursework, pharmacy practice experience and interactions within the university community.

If a pharmacy student receives a PCR that is of a serious or concerning nature the Professionalism Liaison may refer the pharmacy student to the Committee on Student Status & Honors for review. Pharmacy students who receive three or more PCRs or two or more if during IPPEs or APPEs will be automatically referred to the Committee on Student Status & Honors for a review of the student's academic status. The Committee on Student Status & Honors is charged with implementing School of Pharmacy Academic Policies and making recommendations regarding the status of pharmacy students in the PharmD program including academic probation and dismissal. Recommendations from the Committee on Student Status & Honors are forwarded to the Dean or designee for final action.

The PCR will be held by the Professionalism Liaison; an initial PCR is not part of the pharmacy student's academic file. In the event a pharmacy student is referred to the Committee on Student Status & Honors for review, any PCR on file will become part of the pharmacy student's academic file.

The Professionalism Liaison may dismiss the PCR upon review and discussion with the individual who filed the PCR and the pharmacy student. Pharmacy students who receive a PCR may consult with faculty and/or Associate Deans for guidance and advice.

Appeals of dismissal or unlawful discrimination may be made in accordance with the University's Student Grievance Procedures.

Please direct questions about the professionalism policy to the Associate Dean, Student & Curricular Affairs, Associate Dean & Director, Office of Student & Curricular Affairs and/or the Professionalism Liaison.

This policy does not modify or change the authority of the faculty or preceptor to implement specific course requirements. Faculty maintains the right to remove a student on a rotation if the student's performance does not meet established standards or is detrimental to patient care.

Approved by the School of Pharmacy Faculty, June 17, 2010.

Footnotes

  1. UCSF PharmD Graduation Requirements
  2. UCSF PharmD Curricular Outcomes
  3. Academic settings include classrooms, research, clinical/patient care settings; professional settings include student organizations, health events; professional meetings; administrative settings include interactions with school, campus and external units and organizations.
  4. Pharmacist Code of Ethics, Adopted by APhA, October 27, 1994
  5. Also known as patient-centered care, the fundamentals of humanistic care are open communication, mutual respect, emotional connection between the healthcare provider and the patient.

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