By Dierdre McKee, MPH, Director, Continuing Medical Education and Grants, and Nicole Fair, CME Specialist
On July 18, 2011, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) received notification of approval of its application for accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). This approval is vital to NCCN due to the growing demand by pharmacists for reliable, up-to-date, and evidence-based educational programs based on the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines™).
NCCN has long recognized the importance of the oncology pharmacist as a member of the multidisciplinary treatment team for people with cancer. Pharmacists play an important role in the clinical decision-making process, both at the individual patient level and the drug use policy level. At the individual patient level, the oncology multidisciplinary team typically includes a clinical pharmacist who specializes in oncology. Pharmacists dispensing chemotherapy require the clinical knowledge and expertise to effectively assess the appropriateness of therapy (i.e., for indication, dosing, etc.) and monitor patients for adverse effects. At the policy level, pharmacists are actively involved in formularies through their participation on Pharmacy & Therapeutics Committees for hospitals and managed care organizations, where they are often responsible for performing literature reviews and writing policy for committee approval.
Oncology pharmacists have long turned to NCCN for reliable, up-to-date, and evidence-based educational programs. Feedback from pharmacists participating in NCCN educational activities indicates that they seek more continuing education programs from NCCN that are specifically targeted to their needs.
To that end, in late 2010, NCCN began the ACPE accreditation process. The ACPE is the national agency for accreditation of professional degree programs in pharmacy and providers of continuing pharmacy education. According to the ACPE, "Accreditation is the public recognition accorded to a professional degree program in pharmacy or a provider of continuing pharmacy education in pharmacy that is judged to meet standards through initial and subsequent periodic evaluation."
The initial application process required submission of a Self-Study Report and submission of documentation from three pre-existing activities offering pharmacy education credits. The initial Self-Study Report was approximately 350 pages and described in detail how NCCN meets the criteria established in the Accreditation Standards for Continuing Pharmacy Education. NCCN submitted documentation from three pre-existing activities offering continuing pharmacy education credits to demonstrate how NCCN’s educational activities meet the ACPE Accreditation Standards for Continuing Pharmacy Education. The final application and documentation were submitted to the ACPE in late January 2011, and NCCN received official approval on July 18, 2011.As a newly ACPE-accredited provider, NCCN looks forward to continuing to provide high-quality NCCN educational opportunities designed to meet the specific needs of oncology pharmacists.