‘Aspirations and Expectations of Pharmacy Students’

The BPSA are pleased to launch our discussion paper, ‘Aspirations and Expectations of Pharmacy Students - A View to the Future’ this afternoon following our 75th Annual Conference in Durham.

The paper examines the aspirations and expectations of pharmacy students as they set out on their journey to become a pharmacy professional. It explores themes such as pharmacist prescribing, the provision of seven day clinical pharmacy services, and what aspects of practice students are interested in training and working in.

This piece of work is the culmination of months of collaboration between the Executive, Ambassadors, Representatives and our members. We ran a survey across all schools of pharmacy in the autumn of 2016, with 1374 respondents having their say on a number of topics. The results give backing to several key BPSA policies including:

  • More rounded pre-registration placements
  • Closer working between the pharmacy profession and GP colleagues in primary care
  • Incorporating pharmacy prescribing into the MPharm degree
  • Exposure to clinical environments from the first year of study
  • Prospective international students should be made aware of the current visa situation

On the basis of these policies, survey results and engagement with our members, the BPSA Executive will seek to highlight these opinions as widely as possible in profession, and help to drive forward changes. We have done much work around pre-registration recruitment, training and assessment in recent years, and will continue to focus our efforts here. Beyond this, we will also be seeking to help improve the MPharm degree programme and support the developing role of the pharmacist.

In particular, we have identified seventeen key focus for our ongoing work:

  1. Students, pre-registration trainees and newly qualified pharmacists must be included in decision-making when setting the course for the future.
  2. International students must be made aware of UK visa regulations relating to pre-registration training at the earliest opportunity, prior to choosing to study in the UK.
  3. Students recognise pharmacy as a healthcare degree and profession, but with a proud basis in guiding scientific principles.
  4. We expect exposure to clinical environments from the outset of the MPharm programme.
  5. Hands-on opportunities must be provided to develop clinical, commercial, leadership, research and general management competencies.
  6. Delivering university placements during vacation time could be feasible and acceptable to students.
  7. Interprofessional learning opportunities must be developed which foster effective multidisciplinary relationships at an early stage and prepare students for practice.
  8. We expect formal prescribing training to form part of the initial education and training of pharmacists.
  9. Greater efforts must be made to link the number of pharmacy students to workforce requirements.
  10. Models of pre-registration training must be developed which provide multisectoral experience to effectively prepare students for professional practice.
  11. The structured development of young pharmacists must be continued beyond pre-registration education and training.
  12. Professional self-confidence must be instilled in students and strengthened as they progress into practice.
  13. Employers must actively support their pharmacists to explore aspects of practice that appeal to them, improve patient care, and provide career satisfaction.
  14. Pharmaceutical expertise must be available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, in all care settings.
  15. Training opportunities must be provided to expand the prescribing capabilities of the pharmacist workforce.
  16. Pharmacist prescribing must become routine practice, with prescribing credentials conferred to all pharmacists as a matter of course.
  17. We expect pharmacy teams to be present within all accident and emergency departments.

We hope that the largely positive and optimistic views expressed by students are heartening to those who read the discussion paper, and look forward to working with the relevant organisations to make these ambitions a reality. Students, pre-registration trainees and newly qualified pharmacists must be included in decision-making when setting the course for the future. They represent the future of the profession and the importance of their opinions cannot be overemphasized.

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