Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
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“More of an art than a science”: The development of an accreditation framework for continuing education activities for pharmacists

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posted on 2020-12-02, 12:19 authored by Sarah Rhiannon Drumm

Accreditation is a recognition that an educational activity meets certain standards. The processes for accreditation vary considerably depending on the type of activity, and currently there are differing accreditation systems in place for pharmacy continuing education (CE) across different countries. The aim of this thesis was to research a selection of these systems, which would provide an opportunity to develop a catalogue of accreditation approaches currently in place in a number of different countries, and to explore the possibility of developing a common framework for accreditation of pharmacy CE activities. Such a framework would provide guidance to organisations who need to develop new accreditation systems, it could help towards achieving consistency of approach between organisations, and could also provide a foundation for the development of reciprocal recognition between different jurisdictions relating to accreditation.

To that end, accreditation processes from the countries represented by the Global Forum on Quality Assurance of Continuing Education and Continuing Professional Development (GFQAC) were reviewed to explore the themes and patterns in them. Based on this, and other sources as detailed in the thesis, a proposed accreditation framework was developed for CE activities for pharmacists. A Delphi method was used as a consensus building technique with the aim of achieving agreement on the inclusion of items in the framework.

Three rounds of the Delphi took place followed by a meeting of the participants. This led to an abbreviated fourth round of the Delphi. Each round of the Delphi assisted in modifying the items in the framework to ensure that it reflected the majority opinions of the GFQAC, as well as best practice. The GFQAC steering group indicated their intention to use the resultant framework as the basis for mutual recognition of accreditation between member countries.


First Supervisor

Catriona Bradley

Second Supervisor

David Croke

Third Supervisor

Frank Moriarty

Fourth Supervisor

Michael Rouse


A thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of MSc by Research to the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in 2019

Published Citation

Drumm SR. “More of an art than a science”: The development of an accreditation framework for continuing education activities for pharmacists [MSc Thesis] Dublin: Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland; 2019.

Degree Name

  • Master of Science (MSc): Research

Date of award



  • Master of Science (MSc): Research