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Only two universities have degrees that are currently accredited by the National System of Higher Education Accreditation (SINAES), established in 1992, in order to promote and certify quality assurance in both public and private higher education institutions [7]. Accreditation is voluntary and is valid for four years, after which the curriculum must undergo the process of evaluation by the accrediting staff to obtain re-accreditation. The accreditation applies to courses or programmes, not to the schools or academic institutions.

Pharmaceutical human resources planning

Costa Rica has no specific policy regarding pharmaceutical human resources planning to address the needs of the nation. Pharmacy education responds to market needs by providing professionals that the country needs at the moment.

Due to the need for an education model that best meets professional and societal requirements, international benchmarks have issued guidelines or called for the need to target training to necessary skills and competencies. Badilla and Bolaños [8] propose, along with the harmonization of course content, a list of generic competencies that must be obtained by students. This work is complemented by the work undertaken by agencies such as Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO) in the establishment of specific skill sets in pharmacy. This new approach responds to the global need for change. The challenge for the universities is to provide teachers with the appropriate tools for specific skills training, including the assessment of these skills.

Systematic evaluations of professional performance

There are no systematic evaluations of professional performance in the country and no mandatory recertification or other systems that mandate the professional to keep up-to-date. If a practitioner harms a patient or society, the only action that can be taken is to bring the matter to professional or legal courts.

5.2.3. Strategies and outcomes

Continuing education and recertification for pharmacists

Several strategies are used to promote continuous professional education, primarily through the Colegio de Farmacéuticos and universities. The universities offer courses for practicing professionals as well as conferences in specific areas of practice such as in pharmaceutical care and toxicology. It is the responsibility of the university to offer postgraduate studies.

The Colegio de Farmacéuticos has a professional recertification programme, which is voluntary and charges an annual fee to the professional who wants to participate. This programme aims to encourage the participation of pharmacists in professional development activities and, through the commission of recertification and continuing education committee, manages to systematize and evaluate educational activities. In order to adequately address the educational proposals, a survey for education needs is conducted every two years.

Through the strategies used and the range of activities aimed at the needs of professionals, there has been an increased participation in the recertification programme, from an initial 10% in 2004 to 30% in 2012.

There has been a wide range of education activities provided by the pharmaceutical industry, professional associations, and private companies. The Social Security System recognizes this recertification programme and offers a higher salary for recertified professionals working in the public sector; however, this recognition has not yet been achieved in the private sector.


Since only two of the five universities offering the Degree of Pharmacist (UCR and the University of Medical Sciences) are accredited, the Colegio de Farmacéuticos, along with SINAES are working to establish specific criteria for the accreditation of pharmacy degrees [9].

Development of general skills

International organizations such as WHO have pointed out the need of developing skills in pharmacists that help them to implement pharmaceutical services focused on the individual, family, and community. Pharmacy schools are considering these recommendations to improve their curricula.

Implementation of the Renewed Primary Health Care initiative (PHC-R) by pharmacists

A national working committee on PHC-R has recently been established. It will operationalize and take action to overturn the widespread view of private pharmacies as mere commercial establishments and turn them into true health care centers. Also it is intended that public pharmacies become health care centers. The aim is to achieve the highest quality of service from the patient s first contact with the pharmacist [10].

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Development of pharmaceutical specialties

Two major achievements are the consolidation of pharmaceutical specialties and the development of an objective system for registering and regulating specialties. These specialties are recognized by the Social Security system, with those registered and working in the public sector receiving a salaried incentive.

5.2.4. Conclusion

It is necessary to further develop pharmacy leadership in Costa Rica, enabling professionals to become empowered in their profession and capable of facing current and future challenges.

To advance the profession, it is necessary to promote the importance of recertification to the profession and to increase the number of specialists and the types of recognized specialties in the pharmaceutical field. It is also important to provide more support to pharmacy education, particularly in private universities.

In the area of pharmaceutical care, it is necessary to: promote services that a pharmacy must provide or develop, according to the PHC-R criteria; to update domestic policies on pharmacy practice; to create a plan for long-term development of pharmacies as health care centers; to identify the education that professionals require for these new services in professional practice; and to work with academic institutions to educate future professionals in both the technical and humanistic skills required by this new service approach.

In the absence of comprehensive human resource planning, it is necessary that national policies consider the pharmacy workforce, taking into account the current and emerging areas of work and the needs of the society and country.


1. Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas y Censos. Costa Rica. Available from: http://www.inec.go.cr/Web/Home/pagPrincipal aspx

2. Caja Costarricense de Seguridad Social. Costa Rica. Available from: http://portal.ccss.sa.cr/portal/page/portal/Portal

3. Gutiérrez I, Valverde L, González R, Alfaro X. Consejo Nacional de Rectores, Oficina de Planificación de la Educación Superior Seguimiento de la condición laboral de las personas graduadas 2000-2007 de las Universidades Costarricenses. San José : CONARE 2012.

4. Ministerio de Salud. Manual de Normas de Habilitación de Farmacias. Gaceta 175. 2004.

5. Jiménez Díaz AP, Rojas Morera MT, Arias Mora F. Caracterización de los servicios brindados en las farmacias privadas en Costa Rica. Pharmaceutical Care La Farmacoterapia. 2012; 1(1):4-10.

6. Colegio de Farmacéuticos de Costa Rica. Comisión de especialistas. 2012.

7. SINAES. Lista de carreras con acreditación oficial. Available from:


8. Badilla B. and Bolaños C. Armonización Curricular de las facultades de Farmacia de Costa Rica. Informe Final. 2011.

9. SINAES. ¿Qué es la acreditación?. Available from: http://www.sinaes.ac.cr/faq/

10. Conferencia Panamericana de Educación Farmacéutica. Propuesta de acreditación para carreras de Farmacia de América Latina. Borrador discutido por Representantes de Facultades de 17 países y OPS/OMS, 19 and 20 November 2008.