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GPhC proposes combining pharmacy degree and pre-reg training year

GPhC: "We believe it is the right time to prompt more innovative thinking"
GPhC: "We believe it is the right time to prompt more innovative thinking"

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has proposed combining academic study and pre-reg training standards into a five-year integrated programme for pharmacists.

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.

9 Comments
Question: 
Would a five-year integrated programme mean new pharmacists are better prepared?

R A, Community pharmacist

Or we could do this in 4 years through a simple arrangement that students graduate with a BSc in Pharmacy after 3 years and then complete a Diploma which involves completing pre-registration programme in community pharmacy/hospital pharmacy/academic overseen by a specific university in a given region. 

MPharm has little value and it prevents students from getting a loan to do an actual Masters which might be beneficial like an MBA because according to the student finance organisation they have already done a Masters. However, this Masters has no real value and is not recognised as a full Masters in the academic circle.  

Arun Bains, Community pharmacist

Hopefully this will stop the exploitation of pre-reg students. They are not meant to be an extra pair of hands to support business. They are there to be taught. I had to clean toilets during my pre-reg.

Benie I, Locum pharmacist

Pre-reg!! Ask around but you may even find qualified pharmacists cleaning toilets. The profession is becoming more pitiful by the day sadly.

Benie I, Locum pharmacist

It is purely about extra fees for the university. The course itself is dying before our eyes. Most students would be better skipping the pharmacy course and getting a job(no debts !)

Martin MOLYNEUX, Community pharmacist

No mention of the pre-reg grant......

Caroline Jones, Community pharmacist

The only reason it's stayed as a 4 year course is that the universities take in an extra year of fees!

There is no reason why all the work can't be combined into 3 years then do the pre-reg.

Ultimately, it's all fine and well saying that combining it will produce all singing all dancing 'clinical' Pharmacists....it won't....look st Drs, they do 5 years, then do extensive training whilst working.....

As in any other profession, you learn once you are qualified.....

A B, Community pharmacist

I think the degree and pre-reg year could be fitted into 4 years. Only speaking from my own experience and others who I have spoken to, we found a lot of time was wasted on units of work that were interesting but ultimately useless if your aim was to work in community or hospital pharmacy. I'm referring to studying things like gas chromatography or spectroscopic analysis of organic compounds amongst other things. My degree finished over 10 years ago so things may have changed but pharmacists who have qualified more recently than myself have said similar things.

I haven't noticed any difference in knowledge between pharmacists who did a 3 year BSC and those who have done a 4 year MPharm. Others may disagree though.

David Moore, Locum pharmacist

I did a three year BSc course at Portsmouth from 1968 to 1971. I never used some of the things taught to me there in my career. Would a four year course have made me a better pharmacist?

Roy Sinclair, Community pharmacist

At last !

It would at least (hopefully) guarantee a uniform and standard pre-reg year which would be fair and put all pre-regs on the same playing field.

It's long overdue. 

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