Summer 2021

Knowledge Assessment: Focusing on the Knowledge and Skills Needed to Provide Appropriate Care

Pharmacist at computer
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In 2022, the College will introduce knowledge assessments for pharmacists as part of the QA Program that already includes learning portfolio, self-assessment and practice assessment components. A knowledge assessment quality assurance activity for pharmacy technicians will be developed in subsequent years.


The knowledge assessment for pharmacists will focus on ethics, professionalism, patient care and knowledge and research translation. It provides an opportunity to assess knowledge of changing legislation, scope of practice and the ability to take new emerging research and apply it to patient care cases/scenarios that reflect current practice.

As referenced in the article “Quality Assurance: Enhanced Patient Outcomes Through Improving Practice,” the knowledge assessment is part of the way the College can assess a registrant’s knowledge, skills and attitude—the “can do” component of overall competency.

The purpose of the knowledge assessment is to encourage continuing professional development by supporting pharmacy professionals to identify any gaps in their knowledge and seek appropriate education or resources to address those areas for development. The knowledge assessment is intended to be an educational and positive experience for registrants.

It is distinct from the practice assessment, which focuses on the processes a practitioner engages in to deliver patient care (“does do”).

The table below illustrates how the College approaches measuring “can do” and “does do” competency through the Quality Assurance program.

Competency component How do professionals maintain competence? How does the College measure? Short and intermediate outcomes Long-term outcome
Can Do (Knowledge, Skills) By engaging in the right Continuing Professional Development (Self-Assessment; Learning Portfolio) to maintain knowledge and skills Activity: Knowledge Assessment

  • Identifies learning needs
  • Feedback provided through report
  • Engagement in professional development to maintain competency and advance practice
  • Increased knowledge and skills
  • Increased confidence
Enhanced patient outcomes
Does Do
By engaging in the right processes in patient care: patient assessment, decision making, documentation, communication and education Activity: Practice Assessment

  • Identifies learning needs
  • Feedback provided through report
  • Increased engagement in patient care activities (for example, increased patient assessment, decision making, communication/education and documentation
  • Practice is validated and best practices are reinforced
Enhanced patient outcomes


The knowledge assessment will take the form of a multiple choice “open book” online exam taken remotely from a home or workplace, with a time allowance of up to three hours. Registrants will have access to resources and references of their choice and will be required to apply relevant information to make patient care decisions. Accessing appropriate resources reflects real practice where pharmacists are expected to use reliable, evidence-based and current references to support patient care.

Part A pharmacists will be selected to undergo the knowledge assessment approximately every five years. Individuals who are selected will take part in an un-proctored exam, i.e. there will be no direct supervision during the remote online assessment.

Materials such as an exam blueprint with topics to be tested as well as other tools will be available to support those in preparing for the assessment.

Registrants who have been identified as having knowledge gaps through a current practice assessment or a previous unsuccessful knowledge assessment, and those requesting to move from Part B to Part A of the Register, will need to undergo the knowledge assessment online with a remote proctor. This is in line with the College’s mandate to protect the public through identifying appropriate remediation where there has been an identified need that may pose a risk to patients.

Knowledge assessments are anticipated to begin in 2022. More information will follow with ample notice and flexibility in timing and dates provided for selected pharmacists to plan for the scheduling of this knowledge assessment.


The blueprint below describes the key competencies from the NAPRA Professional Competencies for Canadian Pharmacists at Entry to Practice that will be assessed during the knowledge assessment for pharmacists.

NAPRA Competency Key Competencies Weighting Topics
1. Ethical, Legal and Professional Responsibilities
Pharmacists practice within legal requirements, demonstrate professionalism and uphold professional standards of practice, codes of ethics and policies
1.1. Practice within legal requirements

1.2 Uphold ethical principles

1.3 Manage actual and potential illegal, unethical, or unprofessional actions or situations in practice

1.4 Apply principles of professionalism

1.5 Document activities of practice in compliance with federal and provincial/territorial legislation, standards and policies

20% Examples:

Controlled substances

Standards of practice

Scope of practice


2. Patient Care
Pharmacists, in partnership with the patient and in collaboration with other health professionals, meet the patient’s health and drug-related needs to achieve the patient’s health goals
2.3 Assess the patient’s health status and concerns

2.4 Determine the patient’s actual and potential drug therapy problems

2.5 Develop the patient’s care plan in partnership with the patient and in collaboration with other health professionals

2.6 Implement the patient’s care plan

2.8 Monitor the patient’s progress and assess therapeutic outcomes

80% Examples:







Mental Health

Infectious disease

6. Knowledge and Research Application
Pharmacists access, retrieve, critically analyze and apply relevant information to make evidence-informed decisions within their practice with the goal of ensuring safe and effective patient care
6.1 Apply knowledge, research skills and professional judgement to the decision-making process

6.2 Respond to questions using appropriate strategies

6.3 Apply relevant information to practice

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