I may not have known it at the time, but my university years definitely helped shape me into the studious-but-spirited policy wonk I am today. I wasn’t studying pharmacy (biology was my game) but this formative time was, for me, as it is for many undergraduates, integral to the career choices I later made. This same principle likely applies for pharmacy students.
However, according to the General Pharmaceutical Council’s latest consultation, initial education and training for pharmacists can vary pretty substantially. Not just the university programmes, but the pre-registration experience too. With the evolving world of pharmacy around us, we therefore welcome a review of these learning outcomes and standards to keep up with changes in practice and patient expectations.
We definitely see the value of closer integration between academic study and practical experience. The educational case for a degree with access to patients earlier in the programme is well established. Possible reforms have been debated for some time and CCA members fed into the original Modernising Pharmacy Careers programme that was first proposed back in 2011.
To help me in drafting our response to the GPhC’s consultation – arguably the ‘biggest game changer for pharmacy in the last decade’, as one of our members put it – we held a workshop in January with NPA and AIM colleagues. This involved representatives from the cross-sector Community Pharmacy Workforce Development Group (CPWDG). We needed to get our heads around the proposals and the potential impacts they could have on employers, students, universities and patients alike.
January’s workshop was Post-It central as we mapped out how the proposals could work with plenty of furious scribbling and debate. Fortunately, for those of us tasked with interpreting those scribbles (yours truly), most of the group have quite legible handwriting. Views from the group on each of the proposed standards helped shape our final response to the consultation, submitted this morning. In short, we were supportive of the key principles and proposals around integrating standards, strengthening selection and admissions processes and encouraging inter-professional learning.
But theory is the easy bit. At the end of the workshop Marc Donovan, CPWDG Chair, also asked representatives to map out what their ideal delivery model of integrated education and training would be for future pharmacists. Believe it or not, every single person came up with a different ‘dream’ model! My favourite contenders are included below. I think the first option would get my vote if I were applying to study pharmacy. It’s obviously not up to me though. In fact, we need the whole sector – employers, funders, universities, students, the regulator and more – to work together on what implementation could actually look like. The CPWDG will be gearing up to partner with others on this over the coming months. Which option do you think works best? Or would you choose another model entirely? Drop us a Tweet @CCAPharmacy
Policy and Programmes Manager