Breaking Down Barriers to Pharmacy Graduate Education: The Report of the 2017-2018 Research and Graduate Affairs Committee

Document Type


Publication Date



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The 2017-2018 Research and Graduate Affairs Committee (RGAC) was given three charges aimed at helping academic pharmacy address barriers that must be overcome by both students and schools to attract, retain, and support the development of a diverse, well-rounded, and successful graduate student population. These charges were (1) identifying teaching methodologies, tools and opportunities that graduate programs can introduce into curriculum to overcome barriers to success of today's and tomorrow's learners; (2) developing a strategy for achieving member support of the 2016-2017 recommended graduate competencies by identifying gaps in and existing examples of courses or opportunities that achieve competency-based pharmacy graduate education; and (3) identifying potential strategies to address identified barriers to pursuing graduate education, especially among under-represented student populations. This report describes attitudes toward and opportunities related to competency-based education in graduation education in colleges and schools of pharmacy, identifies types of tools schools could use to enhance training towards the competency framework developed by the 2016-2017 RGAC, particularly with regards to the so-called power skills, and outlines a role for AACP in facilitating this training. This report also considers a number of barriers, both perceived and real, that potential students encounter when considering graduate training and suggests strategies to understand the impact of and mitigate these barriers. To strengthen competency-based graduate education, the RGAC puts forth two recommendations that AACP develop a toolkit supporting the training of power skills and that AACP should develop or curate programs or tools to support the use of individual development plans (IDPs). The RGAC also puts forth a suggestion to schools that IDPs be implemented for all students. In considering the barriers to pursuing graduate education, the Committee proposes one policy statement that AACP supports the training and development of an increasingly diverse population of researchers at pharmacy schools through active efforts to promote M.S. and Ph.D. education along with Pharm.D. education. Additionally, the Committee provides recommendations that AACP should expand its efforts in career tracking of graduate students to include collection and/or analysis of data that could inform the Academy's understanding of barriers to pursuing graduate education in pharmacy schools, the AACP Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness should expand upon graduate program data described in the annual Profile of Pharmacy Students report, and finally that AACP should include graduate programs in efforts to increase diversity of students at pharmacy schools.