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Education and training

Pharmacy degree apprenticeships: tell us what you think

Proposals to create pharmacy degree apprenticeships have proved controversial. Do you welcome them or are you concerned?

Apprentice pharmacist

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The Pharmaceutical Journal is asking readers what they think about proposals to create pharmacy degree apprenticeships

Earlier in 2019, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IATE), an arm’s-length government body, published proposals that appeared to create pharmacy degree apprenticeships.

Produced by a ‘trailblazer group’ of pharmacy employers, the plans were put out for consultation on 4 April 2019 for just ten days.

The reaction from pharmacy was mixed: both to the proposals themselves and to the way they were launched, with little or no publicity.

The proposals suggested the creation of a five-year pharmacy degree apprenticeship, that could open up the profession to a broader range of talent, but there were concerns over how the scheme would be funded, the make-up of the trailblazer group that drew up the plans, and the consultation — or lack thereof — with the wider pharmacy world.

Consequently, the proposals were put on hold in May 2019, with the IATE saying that the trailblazer group must be expanded if the plans were to be developed further.

And then, in October 2019, the scheme was revived, with a group of pharmacy employers including Boots, LloydsPharmacy, Asda, the Ministry of Defence and the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, all promising to take into account the earlier concerns, while also reconsidering the funding model.

A public consultation on the plans is scheduled to take place in 2020.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20207420

Readers' comments (1)

  • Prior to the early 1960's those seeking a career in pharmacy had the option of completing a 2 year apprenticeship before enrolling in a pharmacy course - with the 2 year apprenticeship being recognised by the Pharmaceutical Society in respect of their registration as a pharmacist upon successful completion of their studies.

    This option being withdrawn meant that any student's engagement in pharmacy practice prior to commencement of their studies would not be recognised in respect of their subsequent registration. The 1 year pre-registration requirement therefore became the only formal way by which students became aware of the nature and demands of pharmacy practice. Undoubtedly such awareness came as a shock to some students following the completion of their studies!

    Schools of Pharmacy recognised this issue and have responded in at least two ways.

    First has been the appointment of teacher-practitioners to ensure that some of the lectures / practical classes / workshops have been delivered by staff who are simultaneously engaged in pharmacy practice and are thereby able to reflect the nature and demands of pharmacy practice and to serve as role models for the students.

    Secondly the schools have included placements within pharmacy practice as part of their undergraduate programme thereby ensuring all students have, albeit brief, exposure to pharmacy practice during their undergraduate studies.

    Enhancement of both of these responses would further improve the quality of the undergraduate pharmacy programmes.

    Finally - considerable discussion has taken place in respect of the MCPB proposal to develop a 5 year integrated pharmacy course. The further development of this proposal provides an excellent opportunity for the Schools of Pharmacy, those organisations employing pharmacists and pharmacy deanaries, together with the RPS and GPhC, to engage with each other to further enhance and ensure the quality of undergraduate courses in pharmacy.

    It seems to me far better to focus on the development and introduction of 5 year integrated courses than to continue to discuss, develop and introduce a pharmacy apprenticeship route into our profession.

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