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Five-year integrated pharmacy education and training programme proposed (updated)

By News team

Proposals for a single five-year integrated programme of pharmacy education and training, with joint responsibility from universities and employers, have been put forward in a discussion paper by Modernising Pharmacy Careers (MPC) (PDF 560K).

The proposals aim to ensure that future pharmacists in England are able to contextualise and apply their knowledge in practice. The discussion paper will be the focus of a series of meetings between MPC, pharmacy organisations and stakeholders during February and March (see Panel).

Delivering the programme will “require a strong partnership to be built between the schools of pharmacy and employers in both the NHS and community pharmacy sectors”, the discussion paper says.

The current 12-month preregistration placement should be replaced by two major placement periods of six months each, at the beginning of year 4 and the end of year 5.

A single application process is needed for all practice placements, similar to the existing national recruitment scheme for NHS posts, the document adds.

Increased financial burden acknowledged

The paper acknowledges the “unwelcome potential” for creating an additional year of student loans to cover a fifth year of tuition fees and maintenance support, and the possibility of losing a year’s salaried employment. It suggests this could be mitigated by inclusion of pharmacists in the NHS bursary scheme and tuition fee waiver programme.

The paper also argues that pharmacy should receive a clinical supplement for at least 12 months of the five-year programme. Pharmacy is currently funded as a science programme, unlike medicine and dentistry.

While the proposals will mean that students who will work in patient-facing settings will benefit, careers in research and industry may become less obvious pathways, the discussion paper points out. It proposes that an intercalated year could be offered after the third year for students who want to develop their specialist pharmaceutical science knowledge. In addition, under the proposals there will be increased visits to industry and work-shadowing opportunities to highlight alternative careers.  

The discussion paper was produced by Anthony Smith, chairman of the Council of University Heads of Pharmacy Schools and dean of the School of Pharmacy, University of London, and Rob Darracott, chief executive of the Company Chemists’ Association. They acknowledged that the proposals may impact on the delivery of education and training in other parts of the UK.

Timeline

A series of meetings between MPC, pharmacy organisations and stakeholders will be held during February and March 2011. Recommendations from these meetings will then be sent to the Department of Health, Department of Business Innovation and Skills, and the Higher Education Funding Council for England. A formal public consultation, accompanied by an impact assessment, would have to be carried out before any changes are implemented.

Participants

The meetings will take place until the first week of March. A spokeswoman for MPC said they are “an opportunity for MPC to share the thinking to date, ‘sense check’ the proposals for reform, and more importantly, listen to the views of stakeholders and involve them in the process of options development”.

Meetings have been arranged between Professor Smith, Mr Darracott and Sue Ambler, programme director for the MPC programme, and organisations involved in the delivery of pharmacist education and preregistration training. These include strategic health authority pharmacy leads, the Council of University Heads of Pharmacy Schools, the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the Guild of Hospital Pharmacists, Boots, Lloydspharmacy, Morrisons, Asda, the NHS Pharmacy Education and Development Committee, the National Pharmacy Association, the Association of Independent Multiple pharmacies, Day Lewis Group, Numark and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 11068305

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