An investigation of final year pharmacy students’ moral reasoning ability, and their views on professionalism and fitness to practice panel determinations: a questionnaire study.

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Abstract

Background and purpose

The aim was to establish pharmacy students' moral reasoning ability and obtain their views on professionalism and fitness to practice (FtP) determinations involving pharmacists.

Educational activity and setting

Following ethical approval and piloting, final year pharmacy students at Queen's University Belfast (QUB) (n=119) were invited to participate in a questionnaire study. Section A was a validated moral reasoning assessment tool [Defining Issues Test (DIT2); five moral dilemmas], Section B was FtP cases and professionalism. Distribution occurred at a compulsory class. DIT2 data were scored by the University of Alabama. Descriptive statistics and non-parametric tests were used with significance level set at 0.05 a priori.

Findings

The response rate was 94.1% (112/119) and the ‘DIT2 P score mean’ (postconventional schema) was 25.21±14.10. Almost all [(98.2% (110/112)] fully understood the term “professionalism” and 83.9% (94/112) considered it reasonable for a professional code to apply always (within university and out socializing). Differences in opinions existed depending on what the FtP case related to. Students were significantly more likely to consider a 12-month suspension ‘very lenient’ or ‘lenient’ for a pharmacist's personal use of illicit drugs compared with theft of money/cosmetics (42.0% versus 64.3%; p=0.031). There were no significant differences between male and female responses/scores and no strong correlations between DIT2 scores and FtP/professionalism responses.

Discussion and summary

Pharmacy students appeared to understand professionalism and accepted being bound by a code. A level of discrimination between the FtP cases was evident. Moral reasoning ability was lower than expected for future healthcare professionals (see manuscript) requiring attention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)652–659
JournalCurrents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning
Volume9
Issue number4
Early online date01 Jun 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017

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