THE advent of a five-year integrated pharmacy degree meant it was a “really exciting time” for pharmacy, but that needed to be built upon, NHS Education for Scotland (NES) postgraduate pharmacy dean, Professor Anne Watson said at the NES conference, Pharmacy Excellence in Education.
NES had been tasked with undertaking a review of the postgraduate career framework: “This is something we have been waiting for, and really I think it will transform pharmacy in Scotland,” she said, as it would mean looking at how to build a career structure in pharmacy.
Medicine had a “really robust and managed career structure that they move through” and this was supported through education and training support within the workplace. “We need to look at that, and see what we can learn from them, and from the other professions.”
There were a number of areas to focus on, including the first 1,000 days after registration, and experience with the Scottish hospital vocational training scheme, which had been running for 20 years and been really successful, would be useful.
“We realise that with changes in GP practice and primary care, and also with community pharmacy developments, that really there wasn’t anything there within Scotland, and rather than develop in silos, and get different frameworks for each [sector], we thought let’s be smarter about this, and try to develop an overall one.”
The NES Foundation Programme had been developed, which aligned with what the RPS was doing and with what happens with medics. Core competencies had been agreed with the hospital group and the primary care group, and the next step would be to be transfer it over into community pharmacy.
Sector specific competencies for hospital and primary care were launched in February and were being piloted and evaluated, and a working group across Scotland was now looking at sector specific competencies for community pharmacy. Once launched in September and piloted, the hope was that there would be a “robust overall programme for those first few years to support pharmacists across Scotland.”
This model supported the new generation of pharmacists who had more modular jobs and moved around sectors more. “They like to be flexible, and are a bit more courageous. This model supports that,” she said. The model also supported what patients needed and the NHS, as new pharmacists would “have that understanding across the journey of a patient”.
However, there was nothing like this in the advanced practice framework “this is the area that’s missing for pharmacists. We’ve all just found our way, and meandered through our careers and ended up where we’ve ended up.”
While it was important not to lose that generalist experience, pharmacists also needed to advance their practice. There were examples of specialist interest groups where pharmacists had expertise in older people, public health, medicines information, and clinical trials for example, but it was about building all the other parts in to advance practice in Scotland. Pharmacists had to be supported throughout this journey.
Pharmacy also needed strong clinical and professional leadership, and while there were a variety of courses it was “haphazard who goes on them”. A more organised method was needed to take people on a journey through a training programme, which included mentorship and experiential training.
One possible blueprint was the Scottish Leadership Fellowship which was available for medicine, and was available for pharmacists in England. “I think it would be an area I’d like to look at to develop experienced, high-profile leaders within pharmacy in Scotland”.
Also crucial was workforce planning “[it] is one of the areas I am really interested in, we can put all this training here, but we can’t make changes if we don’t get the numbers right.
“We need that pipeline to be right, we need the skills mix to be right, and we need the models of care to be right as well. I think this is something else we need to consider when I’m looking at education and training and working closely with the Scottish Government,” said Professor Watson.