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PJ Online | Articles (Preregistration tutors: the unsung heroes of the profession)

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The Pharmaceutical Journal
Vol 268 No 7193 p504
13 April 2002

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Preregistration tutors: the unsung heroes of the profession

By Steve Howard, MRPharmS, FCIPD

Preregistration tutors make a huge contribution to the development of the profession. This article is designed to encourage more pharmacists to undertake what is a challenging but incredibly rewarding role



The Royal Pharmaceutical Society introduced a new preregistration training scheme last summer, which included changes and improvements to the existing scheme for both trainees and tutors. In summary these changes are:

  1. Updated standards of performance, including a requirement for trainees to spend some time in both community and hospital sectors of practice during their training year
  2. An updated and revised registration examination syllabus
  3. More support for tutors and a redefinition of the requirements for a tutor

A tutor's role and requirements

Benefits of tutoring

• Satisfaction at the success of your trainees

• Recognition of your development skills by your superiors

• Challenge and stimulation

• Development opportunities — coaching skills, feedback and counselling skills, motivating and one-to-one training skills

• Assistance in meeting your requirements for continuing professional development

• Helping to develop the profession, to influence the future direction of practice, and to put something back

The role of any preregistration tutor is, in essence, about encouraging and supporting the development of a new member of the profession. In order to do this, tutors themselves have to be good pharmacists and be able to demonstrate good professional practice. This does not mean that they have to know the answers to every question and be an encyclopedic source of knowledge on all matters pertaining to pharmacy practice. Of course, knowledge is important, but just as important is the attitude of the tutors and their interpersonal skills — they must be genuinely supportive and interested in developing people.

It is often said that "attitude determines aptitude", this is never more true than when applied to preregistration tutors. So important is this, that tutors now sign "an agreement to tutor" to declare to the Society that they are committed and willing to be a tutor and to meet all the Society's requirements in terms of recommended training and continuing professional development.

At the beginning of each training year, they will also complete, along with their trainee, a " learning contract". This clearly specifies the tutor's expectations of their trainee and vice versa. This helps ensure complete clarity of mutual expectations and to begin the year in a positive and forward looking manner.

The tutor's main role will be to assess the trainees progress over the course of the year, providing feedback and guidance, and ultimately decide at the end of the year whether the trainee is competent and ready to apply for registration.

To ensure that the tutor has the requisite level of experience, they must have practised for at least three years in the sector of practice in which they wish to tutor. In addition, in most cases, they must be employed full-time in the same premises as their trainee. They must ensure that their premises are of a satisfactory standard and that they have up-to-date reference books.

In return, tutors receive an honorarium which, in the case of Lloydspharmacy tutors, comes in two parts: a monthly allowance while the trainee is working, plus a larger payment when the trainee has successfully completed his/her preregistration.

Training and support for tutors

Preregistration tutors no longer have to attend a tutor training seminar. Instead, the Society has produced a range of excellent, user-friendly support materials which will provide comprehensive help and guidance to any prospective tutor. This support material comes in two parts, the "tutor information pack" and the "tutor workbook".

The information pack is designed to be the primary source of information to the tutor during the preregistration year. It describes the format of the year and provides a detailed overview of what the trainee must have achieved by the time they apply for registration. For new tutors, it also provides a helpful overview of everything needed to get them started on the road to becoming an effective tutor.

The pack is accompanied by a distance learning workbook which contains a range of development activities for tutors to undertake, either alone or with their trainee. Importantly, it contains the tutor competencies and tools to allow pharmacists to assess themselves against these standards. This in turn helps them to identify their learning and development needs. This is clearly important and the process as described is entirely consistent with the requirements of continuing professional development.

Further information about the revised programme and copies of the training materials can be found on the Society's website.

Tutors and others involved in providing preregistration training also have the opportunity to network and provide advice and support to each other through an email discussion group established by John Hampson, a training pharmacist in Wales. Further information can be found here.

Getting started

If you are considering becoming a tutor your first point of contact should be your employing organisation. Most will have well established training programmes run either in house or sourced externally, and will be able to provide guidance on the steps to follow to become a tutor.

Even if you are a single pharmacist operator, there is nothing to prevent you from establishing your own training programme, and plenty of help and advice is available to pharmacists through the Society's education division.

You may also like to review the training materials on the Society's website as these will give a good understanding of the role of a tutor and its expectations.

Summary

Heroes they certainly are, sometimes but not always unsung, preregistration tutors throughout the country are developing the pharmacy profession of the future. Through their efforts, they make a substantial contribution to the development of the profession and improving standards of patient care. The role is incredibly rewarding, and tutors rightly take great personal pride in seeing their young trainees through to registration and independent practice. Many tutors train preregistration pharmacists year after year, why don't you give it a try?


Steve Howard is director of training and development, Lloydspharmacy

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