Leadership Perception and Commitment to Leadership: What Do Incoming Student Pharmacists Think?

Kristen K. Janke, University of Minnesota - Duluth
Benjamin D. Aronson, Ohio Northern University
Reid C. Smith, University of Minnesota - Duluth


Objectives: To understand student pharmacists’ perceptions of leadership and commitment to leadership development, in order to tailor leadership education in Pharm.D. curricula. Method: A 49-item survey was developed and administered to assess students’ perceptions of leadership, perceptions of self as a leader, and views of leadership development. In Fall 2012, surveys were administered to incoming first year students. Descriptive and comparative statistics (Mann-Whitney U) were used to analyze the data. Results: 136 students responded for a response rate of 84.5%. The majority agreed or strongly agreed that leadership: can be learned (94.9%), is important to the profession of pharmacy (99.2%), and is important for all student pharmacists to develop (95.6%). Fewer reported being able to describe their strengths (30.2%) or weaknesses (28%) as a leader. Respondents reported having the capabilities to lead (94.1%), yet fewer had the confidence to lead (72.1%), and even fewer felt prepared to lead (67.6%). And while most agree that they are interested in developing their leadership skills (91.9%), fewer have invested (64.7%) or have a plan (44.9%) for their leadership development. Significant differences existed between male and female respondents for the question “I have the confidence to lead,” with 84% of males agreeing and only 54.9% of females agreeing (p=0.021). Implications: This study indicates potential areas where education could improve deficits, such as strengths training and developing the confidence to lead. Differences between age and gender groups require further investigation. Through this research an instrument evaluating student pharmacist perceptions of leadership was created and improved.