Portrait of Jamie Kellar

The 2021 Rufus A. Lyman Award recognizes research in professional identity in pharmacy education

Jamie Kellar received the Rufus A. Lyman Award from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) on March 12, 2021.

“I’m thrilled and honoured to receive this award and bring attention to the topic of professional identity in pharmacy education – a theme that’s increasingly relevant in North America and around the world,” said Kellar, Associate Professor and Dean, Academic at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy.

The Rufus A. Lyman Award is presented annually to the author(s) of the best paper published in the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. Utility and significance, originality, research methodology and writing style are award criteria.

The winning paper, A Historical Discourse Analysis of Pharmacist Identity in Pharmacy Education, was published in the March 2020 issue of the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. It examined pharmacy education literature and identified five different professional identities associated with pharmacists: apothecary, dispenser, merchandiser, expert advisor, and health-care provider.

The study found that the health-care provider identity currently dominates, but Kellar and her colleagues were surprised to find that these identities didn’t evolve over time, rather they piled up, resulting in students being exposed to incompatible identities during their education. This is potentially problematic as it may influence which identities students embody as they become practicing pharmacists, which may impact pharmacy practice change.

“It’s important for pharmacy schools to proactively design curriculum to support professional identity formation,” said Kellar, the paper’s first author. “This is crucial not only for student learning and development, but also for driving widespread practice change.”

Kellar worked with local and international researchers, including senior author, Professor Zubin Austin, and Assistant Professor Elise Paradise. She said that the paper was challenging to publish because the methods were novel for a pharmacy publication, and the critical social science lens made some reviewers and readers uncomfortable.

The Lyman Award is one of the most prestigious awards in academic pharmacy. It’s an incredible accomplishment for Jamie — as part of her PhD thesis work — not only to successfully publish this paper, but win this important award,” said Austin, Academic Director of the Centre for Practice Excellence. He is also one of Kellar’s PhD supervisors.

The research team will be honored at the AACP Annual Meeting, which will take place virtually this July.

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