Address by the new EAFP President

Every year, the EAFP Annual Conference includes the Association’s General Assembly (GA). The conference in Bergen hosted the second GA meeting of this year. The EAFP has completed its registration process as a non-governmental organization, meaning the GA must approve the annual financial report within prescribed deadlines in the spring. This year, this was accomplished through a virtual conference. However, the General Assembly during the conference remains important. This year there was an election meeting, leading to significant changes in the Executive Committee. The terms of Lilian Azzopardi, Margarida Caramona, Christian Cavé, Jouni Hirvonen, Andries Koster, and Daisy Volmer have ended. On behalf of the new Executive Committee and myself, I extend our heartfelt thanks for their work and significant contributions to the Association.

The newly formed committee ( has begun its work immediately, with no major changes planned to the basic procedures. For organizations like EAFP, continuity is crucial, as university education is a long-term endeavor. I see EAFP as a platform for exchanging views on study programs, building experience in pharmacy education and training, and working together to find good solutions both at the member level and the EU policy level to meet society’s needs with competent pharmacy graduates. We will continue to follow the vision and mission of the organization, as formulated in previous years and outlined in our strategy: To lead the advancement of pharmacy education and research reflecting developments in pharmacy and the needs of patients and citizens in a healthy society. Recognizing that pharmacy education drives innovations in pharmaceutical sciences and a skill-based transformation in pharmacy practice (

Pharmacy is a broad field with different working environments and challenges. In all settings, it is crucial for each pharmacist to be aware of the integrity of our actions. I hope we have moved beyond the simplistic view of patient-oriented versus drug-oriented pharmacy. As pharmacists, we are responsible for patients because of the medicines we expertly manage. This approach requires us to consider the full cycle of translational medicine in a patient-centered approach: starting with the patient’s health problems, exploring scientific approaches to find disease mechanisms and molecular targets, developing safe and effective compounds, creating an effective, safe, and patient-friendly delivery system, maintaining and improving medication management and pharmaceutical care, and covering all phases of the medicines use process, including pharmacovigilance and regulations. Like any classic quality assurance system, closed-loop feedback is also important: recognizing rare side effects, new indications of existing drugs, reasons for patient non-adherence, and developing new cognitive services and technologies to improve pharmaceutical products and services. Pharmacy study programs should prepare students for these challenges and societal expectations.

In the past, we have successfully addressed many challenges within the EAFP in collaboration with partner organizations. In the La Laguna Opinion of 2004 ( and the Malta Declaration of 2005 (, we dealt with the introduction of the Directive on regulated professions. To summarize the most important elements of these documents: Pharmacy diplomas are based on a multidisciplinary integration of basic, natural, and health sciences and technologies, with a special focus on subjects related to medicines and medical devices in all their domains of usage. A balance between theoretical, laboratory, and patient-centered training is required while maintaining the university character of the curriculum. A thorough grounding in the basic sciences, including a research approach, should be maintained, while contemporary developments in pharmacy, such as pharmaceutical care, professionalism, clinical pharmacy and analysis, regulatory affairs, pharmacoeconomics, medical devices, and industrial pharmacy should be adequately covered. Besides the six-month traineeship in a community pharmacy or hospital, training periods should be considered for other pharmacy-related areas such as industrial pharmacy.

Twenty years later, an amendment was made to the basic text of the Directive and its Annex. One of the main dilemmas for pharmacists was whether to retain the listing of individual professional knowledge/fields in the mandatory components of the study program or to adopt an exclusively competency-based approach. In discussions within the EAFP and with partner organizations (Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union, European Pharmaceutical Students Association, European Industrial Pharmacists Group), we agreed that it is important to list the content including competencies at the lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy (Know/Remember, Understand, Apply/Use, Analyze, Evaluate, Create) and to list the acquired knowledge and skills separately. By focusing only on the final competencies of graduates, awareness of the breadth of pharmaceutical work in the field of medicines for patients can quickly be lost.

This also stems from the 2018 Position Paper “Four Pillars for Relevant Pharmacy Education” (, which was drawn up by the EAFP in collaboration with partners (European Association of Hospital Pharmacists (EAHP), European Industrial Pharmacists Group (EIPG), European Pharmaceutical Students Association (EPSA), Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union (PGEU), International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), Academic Section American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), Ibero-American Conference of Faculties of Pharmacy (COIFFA)). It emphasizes that curricula must maintain a balance between science and pharmacy practice, where science is translated into practical outcomes. The teaching methods used should engage students and provide opportunities for experiential and practical learning.

Competency models vary within a profession by specialties or narrower fields of work. Each branch of pharmacy (community, hospital, clinical, research and medicines development, medicines manufacturing, quality assurance of products and processes, marketing, sales, regulatory affairs, etc.) has its own competency needs. This diversity, along with a strong common core, was clearly expressed through the EAFP projects PHARMINE and PHAR-QA (

What role do educational institutions play in this context? An important one, because students – the future pharmacists – develop their professional identity and competencies mainly during their studies and later in the working settings. Therefore, the study programs should be balanced and provide all the competencies needed by a first-day pharmacist, meaning a pharmacist entering the job market immediately after graduation, regardless of their field of work. However, we must remember that the education system never produces experts or experienced professionals – at best, we produce well-prepared beginners. Students can gain some experience through practice in real working environments and practical training, but graduates cannot reach the practitioner level of competencies immediately. The need for continuous professional development (education and training), which was mentioned in the EAFP documents at the beginning of the century (Malta Declaration), is even more evident at the end of the first quarter of the 21st century.

Therefore, it makes sense to base the implementation of the new Directive on the general positions of the EAFP, such as the document “Four Pillars for Relevant Pharmacy Education.” It is about balance and not uniformity in the study programs, because despite common goals, the path can be different and tailored to the needs of the narrower or wider (national) context of the faculty/university.

For these reasons, the role and tasks of the association remain essentially unchanged: EAFP is a place to share views and experiences – positive and negative, successful and unsuccessful, as we, as educators, know how important it is to learn from mistakes; a place to discuss pedagogical approaches; a place to address the changing characteristics of the generations entering pharmacy studies and the changes in the world of work in general and in the diverse field of pharmacy in particular.

The EAFP is certainly not a magic wand to solve all problems, but it is an excellent tool to effectively address the challenges both at the individual level of pharmacy educators and at the institutional level of pharmacy schools.

Prof. Borut Božič