The development of a competency framework for pharmacists providing cancer services

J Oncol Pharm Pract. 2011 Sep;17(3):168-78. doi: 10.1177/1078155210365582. Epub 2010 Apr 15.


Background: Health practitioners should possess relevant, up to date skills and be able to perform within their required scope of practice to ensure that they are competent. Maintaining the competency of health care professionals is a key principle of clinical governance and risk management. The aim of this project was to develop a competency framework for pharmacists providing pharmaceutical care to cancer patients.

Methodology: An initial draft framework was developed based on existing documentation and adapted to the needs of Queensland Health (QH) facilities. Pharmacists in QH and interstate were asked to review the framework for content and applicability. Cancer care pharmacists in QH were invited to evaluate and score the usefulness and relevance of the final framework.

Results: The framework consists of competency clusters, which describe core activities within three areas: patient care competencies, knowledge competencies, and advanced level competencies. The characteristics of the levels of practice at foundation, advanced, and consultant are defined. Twelve pharmacists evaluated the framework by self-assessing their own practice. Respondents reported that the framework was very to somewhat reflective of what they usually do and gave overall support for the content and applicability to practice.

Discussion: The framework has been developed using national and international documents and the input of experienced practitioners across Australia. It represents a set of key competencies for the pharmaceutical delivery of cancer care. The next essential step of the competency framework is to implement and integrate the framework into practice and to develop accompanying training tools.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Australia
  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated / standards*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Pharmaceutical Services / standards*
  • Pharmacists / psychology
  • Pharmacists / standards*
  • Professional Role
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Program Development
  • Quality of Health Care / standards*


  • Antineoplastic Agents