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GPhC 'convinced' by integrated pharmacy degree

Students will not receive enough "first-hand experience of patient-centred care" while pharmacy degrees and pre-registration placements are kept separate, says regulator

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is “convinced” of the need for all pharmacy degrees to become combined with a pre-registration placement, it has said.

Existing MPharm degrees did not provide pharmacy students with enough "first-hand experience of patient-centred care" to ensure they had sufficient communication skills and were able to work in multiprofessional teams, the regulator said in a discussion paper on training and education standards published last week (June 16).

Combining the two elements would ensure that all pharmacy degrees produced "patient-centred clinicians" who could adapt to healthcare settings beyond "traditional pharmacies or hospitals", the GPhC said. It would also enable "academic knowledge [to] be most effectively put into context and developed in professional practice", it said.

“If anyone believes that integrated education is not in the best interests of future patients and students themselves, then we need to know why,” the regulator stressed in the discussion paper.

The rest of the pharmacy team

Pharmacy technicians required education that focused on using judgement, being "self-aware" and "managing ambiguity and complexity in an imperfect world", the GPhC said. They should also trained to be "resilient in circumstances that are challenging and when there may be no 'right' answer", it said.

The GPhC also stressed that many unregulated pharmacy support staff also "lived up to standards of professionalism in their work". Training for these individuals should focus on professionalism, good communication skills and "being able to work in multiprofessional teams", the regulator concluded.

Pharmacists have until August 15 to respond to a survey through the GPhC website. It would use these responses to draft updated standards for education and training, for publication in 2017, it added.

Chief executive Duncan Rudkin said the GPhC needed to test whether its views were correct before it could set “ambitious, achievable and affordable” education and training standards for the whole pharmacy team. The regulator was “ready to be challenged and to challenge others” on its thinking, he said.

Figures released by the GPhC in May revealed that students who took the University of Bradford's five-year “practice-integrated” course - during which students carry out two six-month pre-registration placements - were more likely to pass last June's registration exam than those studying a four-year course at the same university.


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