Developing new standards for the initial education and training of pharmacists: next steps
Earlier this year we consulted on major changes to the initial education and training of pharmacists. These changes aim to make sure that future pharmacists have the skills and experience they need for their future roles. We received over 600 written responses to the consultation and heard directly from hundreds of others through events and meetings across Great Britain.
What we heard through the consultation has been very valuable in helping us to refine the standards. You can read the full report from the consultation here.
We are now working closely with the key organisations involved in pharmacist education and training to finalise the standards for pharmacist initial education and training, which we expect to be agreed next year.
What we heard
Through the consultation, we heard there was broad support overall for our proposals, but also some questions and concerns, as well as suggestions for how to further strengthen the standards.
There was clear support for revising the learning outcomes so that they are more focused on developing clinical skills and communication skills. But there were suggestions that the learning outcomes should say more in relation to science, technology and leadership. We are now working with leading experts in these areas to help us strengthen those learning outcomes.
There was also clear support for proposals to strengthen requirements in relation to equality, diversity and inclusion and in relation to selection and admission. We did hear mixed views about whether we should set more prescriptive requirements for selection and admission. We are now examining what we heard and discussing these requirements in detail with stakeholders with expertise in selection and admission for courses for pharmacy and other health professionals.
Closer integration of study and practical experience
One of our main proposals in the consultation was for closer integration between academic study and practical experience in the workplace.
Although there was support for the principle of closer integration, there were also some questions and concerns about how this could be implemented in practice.
We have been taking forward work to identify the practical considerations linked with closer integration and the different ways in which this could be achieved in practice. We have been collaborating closely with a range of organisations, including the Pharmacy Schools Council, to help us to do this.
We have invited representatives of schools of pharmacy, students and trainees, employers, funding bodies and professional bodies to join a working group to explore practical options for closer integration of study and practical experience. Our first meeting was held in November and it was very helpful to be able to draw on the significant expertise of this group in discussing possible models to achieve closer integration in practice.
We are continuing to work closely with a range of individuals and organisations to take forward the development of the final standards for the initial education and training of pharmacists. We greatly appreciate the collaborative approach being taken by colleagues across the pharmacy sector to help make sure we have the right standards to help prepare future pharmacists for future practice.
Two key points from our perspective are that the standards should drive improvement for the benefit of patients and the public, and that students should have a coherent experience across the five years of initial education and training to equip them for the increasing range of pharmacy roles.
We expect to finalise and publish the standards next year and then will work closely with everyone involved to prepare for their implementation.