Editor's view: Back to school
Some things are hard to shake. For me, September has always had more of a New Year feel to it than drizzly January has – a remnant of all that time spent in education, when the end of summer meant the start of a new academic year. Along with the hard thud back to reality, there was a sense of excitement and new beginnings – something many MPharm students will be feeling this month.
Schools of pharmacy at the UK’s universities have been busy over the last few years reimagining their courses to align with the GPhC’s relaunched standards for initial education and training (IET). Some have cleared this hurdle already and will be educating their more recent intakes on new material, with prescribing, pharmacogenomics, public health, antimicrobial resistance and clinical reasoning taking centre stage.
Concerns have been raised about waning numbers of young people taking an interest in pharmacy degrees, although I’m told the positive press garnered by the sector for its commitment to patients during the pandemic has led to renewed enthusiasm and boosted UCAS applications. The seismic expansion of professional capabilities that is currently taking place will surely help things along further, and hopefully boost young people’s interest in a community pharmacy career in particular.
In this issue, we take a look at how new approaches to training pharmacists fit with the Government’s plan to make greater use of the sector. Our lead article gives an overview of the current state of play, with proposals for an apprenticeship qualification route for pharmacists – something many will be watching closely now that medical doctor apprenticeships are looming into view.
Opinions differ as to the merits and practicality of apprenticeships, with some warning that on-the-job learning may be challenging in a busy community pharmacy environment. But as the CCA tells P3pharmacy: “Other sectors have reported great success with the introduction of degree apprenticeships, including acting as valuable catalysts to breaking down barriers to entering the profession.”
There is change afoot for pharmacy technicians too. There has been debate in the recent past about their proper role in a community pharmacy, as summarised in the PDA’s 2019 report on this workforce. But now the professional development agenda is going full steam ahead, with a Government consultation on allowing pharmacy technicians to use PGDs open to responses until the end of this month.
Late September will also see the lauch of NHS England training materials targeted at pharmacy technicians to help them develop their consultation skills – yet more evidence that they are viewed as a crucial lever in the mission to free up capacity in primary care.
Finally, I’d like to wish the very best of luck to all those hitting the books this month. A great career lies ahead of you