Professional curricula and recognition

The CoDEG professional development frameworks have been used to guide the development of professional curricula and recognition of advanced practice. To view a document which defines terms relating to these processes please download here.



Professional curricula

A curriculum encompasses the purposes, knowledge, evaluations, skills and experiences needed to define subject specific practice in any particular area. Several specialist pharmacy groups, for example the UKCPA Critical Care Group (see above) and the UK Renal Pharmacy Group, have developed specialist curricula.

The ACLF is often used as a framework to ‘host’ any particular curricula and provide a means to identify the different knowledge, skills and experiences required at advancing levels of practice and in different competency areas. This allows practitioners to easily identify what is required to advance in their area of practice.

In summary, the ACLF will provide a framework for evidence gathering to show or support practice development for a practitioner; the professional curriculum will define the ‘syllabus’ or subject knowledge that underpins practice performance.

There may be different curricula for different subject areas and the ACLF is an overarching competence framework for all practitioners in all sectors. The ACLF can also be used to validate the curricula – to ensure that it applies to the different levels of practice - Foundation/Excellence/Mastery – and by extension, is applicable to all NHS Bands or other such employee structures.

Many specialist curricula have ‘core’ content which is common to other specialisms (so called “subject adjacencies”), which highlights the ability for advanced practitioners to work in different therapeutic areas without having to re-train “from scratch” within a new specialism.

The Professional Curriculum Group (PCG), hosted by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), develops (via the expert practitioners) and ratifies specialist curricula. Any specialist groups wishing to develop a specialist curriculum or have their curriculum ratified please contact laura.obiols(at)

Professional recognition

Also sometimes termed “credentialing”, this is a quality assured process which recognises a practitioner’s attainment of the required knowledge and skills at a particular level of practice. Crucially, this is a process conducted through professional peer review, and is not connected with a regulatory function.

It exists for the purposes of validation of practice by peers, and demonstrates a recognition of practice which has value and merit for the general public and other members of the profession or professional colleagues.

Some countries have more developed credentialing system (for example, north America) and this concept, in pharmacy, is gaining credibility among the healthcare community.

In medicine, it is a well developed concept, conducted through Royal medical colleges and other medical professional bodies. It is seen as a crucial element of career progression and development.

For further explanation and details of the concept of professional recognition and how it fits with professional curricula and development frameworks, please see the two papers recently published by the RPS Partners in the Pharmaceutical Journal: Part 1 and Part 2.




An expert group of critical care pharmacists have produced guidance for pharmacists wishing to specialise in the area of adult critical care. Click here for more information.

For information on the development of the General Level Framework in Australia click here.




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Click here to download recent presentations of CoDEGs work at international and national conferences, workshops and meetings.