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Does participation in formal postgraduate studies have a positive impact on pharmacists’ professional activities?

To identify any changes in pharmacists’ professional activitiesfollowing participation in and completion of a postgraduatequalification. There have been a number of developments within the NHSand the pharmacy profession that have provided many new opportunitiesfor pharmacists over the past few years

By Jeff Aston and Patricia Black

Jeff Aston, MSc, MRPharmS, is a hospital teacher practitioner pharmacist at New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton. At the time of the study he was senior pharmacist for elderly care at Good Hope Hospital NHS Trust. Pat Black, MAODE, MRPharmS, is senior lecturer and postgraduate courses development manager/director of postgraduate studies in the Department of Medicines Management at Keele University.

Correspondence to: Jeff Aston, Pharmacy Department, New Cross Hospital, Wednesfield Road, Wolverhampton WV10 OQP (e-mail:



To identify any changes in pharmacists’ professional activities following participation in and completion of a postgraduate qualification.


A quantitative study using a pre-piloted postal questionnaire consisting of closed and open questions as well as rating scales.

Subjects and setting

227 pharmacists who had completed a postgraduate qualification for community pharmacists or hospital pharmacists with the Department of Medicines Management, Keele University, between 1999 and 2002.


131 questionnaires were returned and analysed (response rate 57.7%). A number of changes in professional activities were identified including an increase in the number and complexity of clinical interventions made by respondents. These were irrespective of whether the respondents had changed job. Respondents identified a number of activities they believed they would not be doing had they not completed a programme of postgraduate study. These included medicines management and providing prescribing advice. This appeared to be related to the clinical and communication skills that they identified as being the most useful skills derived from their qualification.


Postgraduate qualifications for community pharmacists and hospital pharmacists appear to have a positive impact on pharmacists’ professional activities. Postgraduate programmes must continue to evolve to provide for future developing needs.  

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10967536

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