As part of a 12-week consultation – which it expects to launch in January – the GPhC will propose integrating the five years of initial education and training for pharmacists by combining the standards and “learning outcomes” for the MPharm degree and the pre-registration year, it said in council papers last week (November 8).
“We believe there needs to be a more coherent approach” to initial training for pharmacists, the regulator said. This includes a “greater focus on clinical skills, on communicating with patients and working effectively with other healthcare professionals”.
This will require “a much stronger link between the currently separate elements of academic study in the MPharm degree and workplace experience contained in a pre-registration year spent in a hospital or community pharmacy”, the GPhC said.
“Student pharmacists need exposure to an appropriate breadth of patients and people in a range of environments (real and simulated) to enable them to develop the skills and the level of competence required.”
When should pre-reg training take place?
Most pharmacists in Great Britain currently undergo a four-year MPharm degree, and then 52 weeks of pre-reg training in one or more sectors, the GPhC explained.
However, “there has been considerable discussion over many years about the potential value of integrating the academic study and practical workplace learning”, the GPhC noted.
As part of its proposals, “it will be for course providers and employers to determine when the 52 weeks are carried out”.
“It is not the role of the regulator to specify precisely how [the five-year integrated programme] can be achieved. We believe there are likely to be different ways and models both within and across the countries of Great Britain,” the GPhC said.
Approaches to five-year pharmacy training
“In England there are now four five-year degrees designed for international students, who can undertake pre-registration training as part of their degree on a student visa,” the GPhC explained.
The Scottish government plans to introduce a five-year integrated pharmacy degree in the country from 2020-2021, and in Wales, health boards have been piloting multi-sector training with a view to rolling this out across the country in “due course”, the regulator added.
“We believe this increasing focus on closer integration of study and experiential learning (practical experience) and closer collaboration is now essential,” the regulator stressed.
“We also believe it is the right time to prompt more innovative thinking given the importance of ensuring the pharmacists of the future are fully equipped for the roles they will need to play.”
Scrapping pre-reg performance standards
The GPhC currently sets standards and learning outcomes for the MPharm degree, and then separate performance standards and learning outcomes for the pre-reg year.
The consultation will propose scrapping the separate set of performance standards for the pre-reg year and replacing them with the learning outcomes: person-centred care; professionalism; professional knowledge and skills; and collaboration – to be achieved over the five years.
“By necessity, that will require universities, employers, health education and training organisations and those responsible for funding to work collaboratively to achieve this,” the GPhC said.