How education should link with career paths

Anthony Sinclair*, David Terry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


How good is your pharmacy practice? And what does “good” look like? Take a look back at the education and training you have received in your career to date. Has it stood you in good stead?
Certainly there is a need to establish a model of professional education and development that produces good pharmacists — you should be able to demonstrate your competence regardless of your sector of work. It may help if we move away from the view that excellence in pharmacy practice is primarily defined by where you practise and the kind of job that you do.
The Modernising Pharmacy Careers programme’s aspirations to integrate the undergraduate degree with the preregistration training year are bold and to be applauded — provided the outcome delivers changes that are more than superficial. The new model needs to deliver greater integration of education with practice, while retaining an adequate science base. Theory should be put into the context of practice-based, cross-sector learning needs and opportunities. For example, is the classroom really the best environment in which to learn dispensing? Pharmacokinetic theory could be put into context through creatively designed work placements. And it might make more sense to learn patient counselling in a community pharmacy, and so on.
Is it resources we lack to make this happen? Or do we lack the collective will to be imaginative, to be radical and to conceive new approaches to professional education? Implicit in this new approach to education is the expectation that pharmacists should teach and mentor and, conversely, that those who teach should also engage in relevant practice. University education must produce graduates whose knowledge and competence are useful to employers. Moreover, graduates must be adequately prepared to enter any area of the profession endowed with professional self-confidence (something, arguably, that needs further development within the pharmacy psyche). Of course, becoming qualified is just the beginning. Post-qualification, pharmacists need structured career paths that foster this professional confidence, support learning and ensure recognition. To this end, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society-led professional curriculum group is working to define knowledge, skills and experience for all areas of advanced practice.
More than ever, the profession needs to adopt a culture of learning, teaching and practice research that is unified. The question is: how do we move away from merely collecting qualifications (trophies) to developing meaningful careers? Pharmacists in all areas and at all levels of the profession need to consider their own willingness to make this shift. The RPS and MPC are leading the way, but are we following?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312
Number of pages1
JournalClinical Pharmacist
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2011


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