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The steps preregistration tutors must take to support their trainees

Noma Al-Ahmad and Ping Liu reveal how to make the most of new guidance from the General Pharmaceutical Council on tutoring preregistration pharmacist trainees

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The more welcomed trainees feel by you and your team, the quicker they will settle in and learn

The current preregistration training year is coming to an end. Preregistration pharmacists across the country are waiting for their final declaration — confirmation that they are competent to become registered pharmacists — to be signed off. While this next wave of newly qualified pharmacists are preparing for what lies ahead, the pharmacists responsible for their training, their tutors, will be preparing to begin the process again with someone new.

In January, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) released new guidance on tutoring for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in all sectors of pharmacy practice. Focusing on preregistration training, the guidance outlines the key obligations the role entails and sets a precedent for what is expected of tutors.

If you are a preregistration tutor, now is an ideal time for you to reflect on your performance over the past year and make any necessary adjustments so the training you provide your new trainee is in line with GPhC guidance. And if you are new to tutoring it is a good time to reflect upon any past experience you have that will help you in your new role, learn about what will be required of you over the coming year and find out how you can best support your first trainee.

If you want to become a preregistration tutor, see this Careers article .

The guidelines

The GPhC guidance is organised into three parts. Part one describes the initial education and training of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians and explains tutoring roles in pharmacy. Part two identifies the five GPhC “standards of conduct, ethics and performance” that are particularly relevant to the role of a tutor.

Part three serves to provide help to tutors in their delivery of preregistration training — particularly in the areas of trainee induction, assessment and providing feedback and support to trainees.

It provides guidelines on what you should be doing in the following five areas:

  • Being a professional role model
  • Delivering the training programme
  • Assessing your trainee’s performance
  • Giving feedback to your trainee
  • Supporting your trainee

This article summarises the guidance within these five areas and suggests some reflective questions you may want to ask yourself before your new trainee starts and over the course of the coming year.

Being a role model

As a preregistration tutor you need to demonstrate a high level of professionalism and competence at all times. Your trainee will see you as a role model and will learn from your actions and behaviours. This position of responsibility requires you to carry out continuing professional development that is relevant to your role as a tutor and to do this you will need to identify your own development objectives. Attending a preregistration tutor training event can help you develop your learning further.

Ask your previous trainees and colleagues to give you feedback to help you assess your performance. Feedback from your trainee is a valuable source for reflection on your performance; use it to your advantage to improve the standard of training you provide.

Key elements of such feedback would include asking your trainee if he or she felt they were inducted into their training appropriately, were given ongoing opportunities to develop and demonstrate his or her competencies, and if your review process and training environment was fit for purpose.

Delivering the training programme

All preregistration trainees are required to follow a personal training plan aligned with the performance standards set by the GPhC. Some organisations may provide a generic training plan for their trainees to use, but these plans need to be approved by the GPhC before they are used and should be adapted to each individual. Some trainees may already have extensive experience of working in a pharmacy or be registered pharmacists in other countries, whereas others may have very limited experience. You can tailor your trainee’s training plan to his or her needs after your first meeting with them.

Assessing your trainee’s performance

Assessing your trainee’s progress is a key part of their development and should be an ongoing process. Progress reports are conducted three times during the year; the first needs to be carried out by week 13, the next by week 26 and the final one by week 39. You should use progress reports to conduct appraisals with your trainee and assess his or her portfolio.

Identify the performance standards he or she has demonstrated so far and what skills require further development. Objective feedback by both parties is fundamental to your trainee’s progression and ensures he or she is getting the most out of your experience as a pharmacist.

Your trainee needs to demonstrate to you that he or she can consistently meet performance standards in a variety of situations. You should aim to use a combination of assessments that challenge them in different ways.

A summative assessment evaluates a trainee’s performance at the end of a set activity, such as a written or practical test, and compares it against a standard or benchmark.

Formative assessment relates to ongoing assessment followed by constructive feedback provided to a trainee about his or her performance in areas that are not quantifiable, such as communication skills or conflict resolution. It involves using a range of assessment interventions throughout the learning process to enable tutors to modify their training delivery, if needed, and monitor their trainees. Using both types of assessment will allow your trainee to reflect and improve on different aspects of his or her performance.

Giving feedback

Providing feedback to your trainee is integral to the development of his or her competence and confidence. Being able to give constructive feedback is imperative to being a tutor and is one of the key qualities of an effective role model. Feedback should be incorporated into everyday practice; encourage your trainee to seek feedback from anybody involved in his or her training and you should encourage your fellow colleagues to proactively provide feedback, too. This will help maximise your trainee’s training experience and facilitate progression through the stages of competency.

Reflect on being a preregistration tutor

Before your preregistration trainee starts their training year, reflect on your past experience of being a tutor, if applicable. Ask yourself:

  • What went well during the training period?
  • What did not go well?
  • What will you do differently with your next trainee?
  • What do you need to do to develop your tutoring skills and fulfil your role as a tutor?

When you have agreed on a training plan with your trainee, consider:

  • Does the plan include a suitable induction at the beginning of the year?
  • Does it provide opportunities for your trainee to explore a range of learning experiences?
  • Does it allow you to monitor your trainee’s progress throughout the year?
  • Does it allow your trainee to identify shortfalls and enforce progress with SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based) objectives?
  • Does it encourage involvement from other members of the pharmacy team?

Think about your assessment process at various points throughout the year. Consider how it is helping your trainee to progress. Ask yourself:

  • Do you provide your trainee with a range of formative and summative assessments for them to demonstrate competence?
  • Do you adapt his or her training plan after a review to highlight areas that require improvement or performance standards that need to be met?
  • Is your assessment process fair and constructive?
  • Do you assess your trainee against the GPhC “Standards of conduct, ethics and performance”?

Reflect on the feedback you provide to your trainee about their performance regularly. Consider the following questions:

  • Do you give regular and timely constructive feedback?
  • Is your feedback specific and based on evidence?
  • Do you give your trainee time to reflect on the feedback given?
  • Is feedback given in a suitable environment?
  • Do you give your trainee the opportunity to provide you with feedback on your role as a tutor?

Think about the support you provide to your trainee. Ask yourself:

  • Do you meet regularly to identify any problems or difficulties that may be affecting his or her progress?
  • Do you give your trainee support when needed or refer your trainee elsewhere for support if you cannot help them?

Supporting your trainee

Trainees start their preregistration training with many anxieties. They have to start full-time employment, perhaps for the first time, participate in workplace activities and integrate into an established team. They also have the added pressure of preparing for the registration assessment. The more welcomed they feel by you and your team, the quicker they will settle in and learn. As a tutor, you should encourage and support your trainee to help them achieve his or her full potential.


 About the authors

 

Noma Al-Ahmad, MRPharmS, Dip Mgt, FCMI, is managing director and Ping Liu, MRPharmS, is training development manager, both at ProPharmace

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11139065

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