A change of pace

2 December 2015

Earlier this month we brought together leaders from across pharmacy, students and patients and asked them a question; how do we produce the pharmacy team of the future that will meet the needs of patients and the public? 

We were provided with a multitude of answers but one theme that emerged strongly was that of change - that change is coming and that change is necessary.

On many levels change is already happening. Pharmacy professionals are already taking on greater roles in providing person-centred clinical care and in medicines optimisation. The way care is provided continues to change in order to meet growing demand from an ageing population at a time of limited resources, with care moving out of hospital and into community settings. Relationships between patients and health professionals are also changing, with patients becoming partners in their own care and expecting to make decisions jointly with the health professionals working with them.

It’s important that our standards for education and training reflect all of these changes and prepare tomorrow’s pharmacy team for new roles and new challenges. There was widespread agreement from delegates at the conference that the core skills of professionalism, communication skills and multi-professional working need to be included in the standards for all members of the pharmacy team. And many of those attending told us that the pharmacy team need more interaction with patients in clinical settings and more inter-professional learning during their education and training.

We are mindful that we must not simply build our standards around a core of today’s knowledge. Instead we need to equip the pharmacy team of the future with the abilities to acquire knowledge and skills throughout their working lives – knowledge which most of us are not even able to visualise at this point in time. Education and training needs to be an ongoing process beyond qualification; there needs to be a clear pathway for future education and training.

The responses we received to our recent discussion paper Tomorrow’s pharmacy team also highlighted that there are still gaps in knowledge about the roles, skills and abilities within the team. This needs to be addressed if we are to achieve a truly integrated approach to pharmacy education and training and to pharmacy practice. And as part of that approach we also need to consider how the pharmacy team as a whole becomes better integrated within the wider healthcare team, with the patient always being at the centre.

These are all issues which will be reflected in our future standards for education and training of the pharmacy team. We plan to continue to engage, question and challenge all those with an involvement in pharmacy education and training to make sure that the standards we end up with are robust now and in the future. And we will challenge ourselves and others to make sure that we move this forward with pace. Change is needed now to make sure tomorrow’s pharmacy team have the skills and abilities to meet future health challenges and the needs of their patients. We all need to make this change happen.