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Scotland to introduce five-year integrated pharmacy degree

An advisory group decided a five-year degree would "better prepare" pharmacists
An advisory group decided a five-year degree would "better prepare" pharmacists

A five-year integrated pharmacy degree will be implemented from 2020, the Scottish government has announced.

The government said last Friday (May 5) the “consensus view” from an advisory group – comprising of the two schools of pharmacy, Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) and other stakeholders – was to recommend progressing from the current four-year degree and one-year pre-registration training to a five-year degree.

NHS Education for Scotland (NES) announced in August 2016 it was considering replacing the four-year degree, which chief pharmaceutical officer Rose Marie Parr said would help to manage student numbers to "meet workforce demand".

Not a unanimous decision

The advisory group concluded in its report that a five-year degree would provide opportunities to “better prepare” new pharmacists for practice in Scotland and would result in “better management of pharmacy trainee numbers”.

It also said it would support the government's aim for every GP practice to have access to a pharmacist with “advanced clinical skills”.

However, the report published by the group said the decision “was not unanimous”.

The heads of the two pharmacy schools – Robert Gordon University and Strathclyde – had concerns around resource availability, the impact on international students, and the time-frame given to deliver the change.

The group also said the change would be delivered “within the existing funding envelope”.

Changes should be “appropriately managed”

CPS CEO Harry McQuillan said the representative body sat on the initial advisory group and would expect to be part of any working groups tasked with making the concept of an integrated five-year degree a reality.

“The CPS board will contribute their combined expertise and experience through the appropriate channels,” Mr McQuillan said.

He added it is “in the best interests” of the pharmacy network, prospective students and the public, that any changes that would affect students' experience are “appropriately managed”.

Do you think a five-year integrated degree would benefit trainee pharmacists?

lucas perez, Student

are there people still studying pharmacy? LOL

David Miller, Hospital pharmacist

Sadly it seems similar to England there is a lack of support from the Universities due to resources and international students (i.e. More resources).  Agree it should include sufficient clinical placements and training to have supervised prescribers on graduation.  Not clear what is happening with the "salary" currently paid as that was suggested to be replaced in England with a much reduced bursary?  Integrated degrees has widespread support across the profession and can only improved educational and practitioner outcomes.

Margaret O'doherty, Community pharmacist

Five year integrated degree has been introduced in Ireland. There is NO payment for any of the training placements. 

martin gibson, Locum pharmacist

does it include the prescribing qualification?  I still am amazed that, in England, when they increased the course to 4 years they didn't manage to incorporate prescribing! After a four year slog you STILL have to do more training, some of it under a GP....... And who taught that GP to prescribe in the first place?..... Hospital PHARMACISTS!  

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I agree with Martin, prescribing should come as standard by now.

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