THE Scottish Government has given approval for Scottish universities to move to a 5 year integrated pharmacy degree, announced Professor Rose Marie Parr at the NHS National Education for Scotland (NES) conference in Edinburgh today.
“It gives me great pleasure to say that today, for the first time that Scotland is going to go for a 5 year programme for education and training to try to evolve the 4 years plus one year of pre-registration training,” she told the delegates. “We want people to have experiential learning, practice learning, we want people to experience consultation skills and clinical skills, so that when they come to patient care and they are patient-facing, they are actually equipped to do that.”
However, this wouldn’t happen overnight, but it would mean an evolution to a place where experiential learning and the undergraduate course were fit for the future.
Professor Harry McQuillan, Chief Executive Officer at Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS), told Pharmacy in Practice: “The community pharmacy network is integral to the delivery of any process which is implemented to deliver high quality pharmacists of the future.
“Community Pharmacy Scotland sat on the initial advisory group on this development, and would expect to be part of any working groups tasked with making the concept of an integrated five-year degree a reality.
“The CPS Board will contribute their combined expertise and experience through the appropriate channels when all of the associated issues such as experiential learning, funding, student numbers and governance are being considered.
“In the interim, we believe that the importance of ensuring that transitional arrangements which provide clarity for all stakeholders and ultimately continue to deliver registrants to the current high standard cannot be overstated. It is in the best interests of our network, prospective students and the public that any changes which may affect student experience or outcomes are appropriately managed, and we will play a part in ensuring that this is the case.”
The new five-year integrated is expected to start in 2020, and there would be coterminus graduation and registration, with the first students graduating and registering in summer 2025.
In the interim, an enhanced 4+1 model will provide a transitional programme structure to prepare for a managed integration of the 4-year MPharm and 1-year pre-registration training programmes. Progress to a fully integrated five-year programme will be agreed with stakeholders including students already enrolled in MPharm degrees in Scotland.
The modular Pre-registration Pharmacist Scheme (PRPS) pilot will be rolled out across the transitional period to provide experience in the three main patient-facing sectors of practice. A new funding model will be proposed for the transition period to support both trainees and training providers. Alongside this, improvements to the admissions process will mean that all students who successfully complete their MPharm during the transition period will automatically progress, based on merit, to a NES pre-registration position.