Professionalism ethics in pharmacy education: Do students have acceptable knowledge or it is a white paper in pharmacy education curriculum?



Dear Editor, In pharmacy, professionalism must contain
the skills necessary to be a capable pharmacy
practitioner. It seems that pharmacy students
do not become professionals after graduation
from the pharmacy school. To be a professional
pharmacist, students should have a lifelong
commitment to the society and patients.
Evolving professional knowledge, attitudes
and behaviors is a critical step in providing
high quality patient care (1). In the last previous
years, pharmacy practice has changed from drug
prescription to patient-centered communication
and more stress on pharmacists’ accountability
for the best treatment outcomes. Thus,
pharmacists are accountable for providing good
health care facilities. In this regard, pharmacists
should cooperate well with other health care
professionals and patients (2).
An important component of professionalism
in pharmacy is ethics education (3). The necessity
of ethics education in pharmacy highlights
the significance of ethical considerations
by pharmacists (2). The significant service
delivered by pharmacists in Iran is responding
the patients’ questions. Therefore, pharmacists
must be up to date with ethical issues and apply
the best ethical responses to different patients’
problems (2). In Shiraz University of Medical
Sciences, the medical ethics department is
responsible for ethics education for all medical
and paramedical students including pharmacy
students. This education consists of one week
workshop including important issues in pharmacy
ethics. This is a part of core pharmacy education
curriculum and all of the students should
participate in this course.
In order to measure the students’ knowledge
about ethics in pharmacy education, we
conducted a survey with an 18 item valid and
reliable questionnaire containing three major
domains: truthfulness, professional commitment,
respect for patients’ rights and confidentiality of
patients’ information). 162 pharmacy students
in 7 to 12 semesters in Shiraz pharmacy school
were selected through simple random sampling
method. All of the students filled out the
questionnaire based on a 5 point Likert scale.
The results showed that 14 (8.6%) students had
a moderate level of knowledge, 68 (42%) had a
good level of knowledge, and 80 (49.4%) had
a very good level of knowledge. There was no
significant relationship between gender and
level of knowledge. There was a significant

relationship between the level of knowledge and
educational semester. Senior students had higher
knowledge. The best results were in the domain
of respect for patients’ right and confidentiality of
patients’ information. These results showed that
students had an acceptable level of knowledge,
especially in the field that is necessary for their
future profession (patients’ right and patients’
confidentiality). Pharmacy students should
establish good relationships with each other,
patients, and other health care professionals.
Therefore, a professional behavior should be
encouraged more than focusing on knowledge. In
this study, it was not possible to follow the students
in future years to measure their professional
behavior, but it is recommended for future
studies. However, it seems that this knowledge
will not necessarily change to improvement in
practice in pharmacist because pharmacy is not a
science of pure knowledge. The closer integration
of knowledge and practice named “practice-based
knowledge” is an important area that is essential
to be considered by pharmacists (4).
Pharmacy students must remain up to date
with changes in their profession, which may
contain new practice guidelines, new pharmacy
and therapeutic products, and new technologies.
In order to improve the students’ professional
behavior, they should participate in community
services, volunteering programs, (serving and
helping others), health education services and
local health care organizations. After graduation,
participation in Continuing Professional
Development instead of Continuing Pharmacy
Education is necessary to maintain the knowledge
and behavior in this field. In Continuing
Professional Development, learning occurs
in lifetime and continues after the classroom
in everyday practice (5). Excellence should
be considered not only in the undergraduate
pharmacy education, but also after graduation
training, and during practice. Finally, it should be
mentioned that pharmacy students must remain
knowledgeable and pursue guidance to achieve
the goal of excellence in professional ethics.

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 P ISSN: 2322-2220            E ISSN:2322-3561      

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Publisher: Shiraz University of Medical Sciences