What is Professional Identity Formation?
Professional identity formation (PIF) is a complex and transformational process of internalizing a profession’s core knowledge, skills, values and beliefs, resulting in an individual “thinking, acting and feeling” like a member of that professional community. The process of forming a professional identity begins even before the first day of professional school and continues throughout an individual's career.
Why should pharmacists care about Professional Identity Formation?
The potential benefits of a strong professional identity for pharmacists are significant:
- Identity influences how a professional perceives, explains, presents and conducts themselves, shaping motivation and confidence in performing tasks.
- Identity helps individuals determine the scope and nature of their preferred work, including setting career goals and choosing employment.
- Association with a professional community helps buffer against workplace stressors to support mental well-being of the individual and increase job satisfaction.
- Unified messaging to those outside the profession about who pharmacists are and what they do may lead to new practice roles for pharmacists.
What can I do to support Professional Identity Formation?
Most experts agree that positive role modeling and establishing a welcoming and inclusive training environment are some of the most important steps an educator can take in trying to support PIF for pharmacy learners.
A Brief Summary of AACP’s Commitment to PIF:
- Report of the 2019–2020 AACP Student Affairs Standing Committee
- AACP Policy Statement (Source: Student Affairs Standing Committee 2020)
- "AACP encourages colleges and schools of pharmacy to advance education that is aimed at the intentional formation of professional identity (i.e. thinking, feeling and acting like a pharmacist) and developed and implemented in cooperation with professional pharmacy organizations within the broader pharmacy profession."
- A Pathway to Professional Identity Formation: Report of the 2020-2021 AACP Student Affairs Standing Committee
- The 2021-24 AACP Strategic Plan (Objective 1.1.1)
- The Rufus A. Lyman Award is presented to authors of “A Historical Discourse Analysis of Pharmacist Identity in Pharmacy Education.”
- The AACP Transformation Center’s Bridging Pharmacy Education and Practice Summit, June 2022, with PIF as a theme
- The 2022 AACP Curriculum Outcomes and Entrustable Professional Activities (COEPA) with PIF acknowledged in Self- Awareness
- School posters on efforts related to PIF at the AACP Annual Meeting
- Call for papers for the AJPE Theme Issue “The Intersectionality of Pharmacists' Professionalism and Personal Identity”
- AACP funds multiple member-led PIF New Investigator Awards and Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Grants.
- Establishment of the PIF Community forum and resource room for pharmacy educators on AACP Connect (AACP Members only)
Looking for further reading?
Consider starting with this recommended reading list and faculty perspectives.
More Highlighted Original Research Works on Pharmacist Professional Identity:
- Kellar J, et al. How pharmacists perceive their professional identity: a scoping review and discursive analysis. Int J Pharm Pract. 2021;29(4):299-307.
- Noble C, et al. Pharmacy student professional identity formation: a scoping review. Integr Pharm Res Pract. 2019 Mar 27;8:15-34.
- Chien J, et al. Student pharmacists' perceptions of their professional identity. Curr Pharm Teach Learn. 2022;14(6):712-719.
- Elvey R, et al. Who do you think you are? Pharmacists' perceptions of their professional identity. Int J Pharm Pract. 2013;21(5):322-332.
- Nelson NR, et al. The Pharmacist’s Professional Identity: Preventing, Identifying, and Managing Medication Therapy Problems as the Medication Specialist. J Am Coll Clin Pharm.2021;4:1564–1571.