The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) consultation on “standards for the initial education and training of pharmacists” – which ran from January-April – proposed integrating the five years of initial education and training for pharmacists to attain a “stronger link” between academic study and practical experience.
A total of 108 pharmacy organisations and 542 individuals – including pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, members of the public, and heads of pharmacy schools – responded to the consultation.
The majority – 75% and 77% respectively – supported the GPhC’s proposal, the regulator said in documents published ahead of its council meeting today (September 12).
However, “many responses were unsure about how integration would be implemented and were concerned about its funding”, the GPhC said.
Get the funding right
While two thirds of pharmacy schools agreed with combining the degree and practice-based learning, “a significant number” raised concerns about the “potential additional costs associated with offering an integrated MPharm degree” and feared some universities would stop offering these courses “if they considered them no longer viable”.
“They also did not think students should pay for a fifth year of education and training, as it would make pharmacy education much less attractive,” the GPhC said.
“Many schools asked for government funding to be explicitly confirmed before making changes to the standards for initial education and training,” the regulator added.
This view was shared by training providers who, according to the council papers, feared the measure could result in “students losing the pre-registration salary”.
Learning outcomes should replace performance standards
Almost three quarters (74%) of the respondents welcomed the GPhC’s proposal to replace pre-registration performance standards with “learning outcomes”, namely: person-centred care; professionalism; professional knowledge and skills; and collaboration.
The GPhC will present the findings of the consultation at its council meeting today and plans to “finalise, publish, and promote updated standards for the initial education and training of pharmacists” between October and December.
“We will take forward work with universities, students, employers, commissioners, regulators and funders of education and training to develop a better understanding of what ‘integration’ looks like in practice and how it could be achieved,” the GPhC said.