CPD requirements for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians

CPD requirements for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians

01 Nov 2021

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Pharmacists use their medication expertise to treat patients, collaborate with other health care professionals, and care for customers in many different settings. This article provides a brief overview to Continuing Professional Development for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in the UK, including what represents suitable planned and unplanned CPD activities and how CPD should be recorded.

An Overview of the Pharmacy Sector

Around the world, the pharmacy sector is rapidly changing as the role of pharmacists in the UK health care system continues to evolve. New scopes of practice, interprofessional collaboration, integration of regulated pharmacy technicians, combined with rapid medical and technological advances are all transforming the work of pharmacists and the pharmacy profession.

Pharmacists are an integrated member of the health care team, and are involved in all aspects of medicine delivery to patients. They must provide information on prescription drugs, promote population health, and advise patients on the proper use of medications. As such, a pharmacist must possess the medical knowledge necessary knowledge and skill base to practise safely, effectively and legally in their evolving career and scope of practice.

Continuing Professional Development, (known as CPD) is a self-directed, ongoing, systematic and outcomes-focused approach to lifelong learning that involves the tracking and documenting of skills, knowledge and experience gained, both formally and informally, beyond any initial education and training.

Undertaking regular CPD not only maintains and improves the quality of safety to patients but also raises standards for the entire pharmacy profession and the services they provide. Engaging in both formal and informal CPD activities can help pharmacists develop the necessary habits of self-directed lifelong learning in order to keep pace with current innovations and ensure the very highest standards of professionalism and patient care.

To work in the UK, pharmacists must be professionally qualified and registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). The GPhC is the regulator for all pharmacists, pharmacy technicians in the UK and sets the standards for professionals in the industry to enter and remain on the register. All pharmacists must undertake Continuing Professional Development (CPD) on an annual basis in order to be eligible to continue their registration.

What is considered as effective CPD for pharmacists?

CPD is an ongoing and planned learning and development process, and can be broadly defined as any type of learning that you undertake which increases your knowledge, understanding and experiences of your subject area or role. This flexible model of CPD offers pharmacists the opportunity to consider the wider scope of learning and development, and benefits to their own practice, the pharmacy profession and the patient. 

As a professional you are responsible for your own personal learning and development, and are encouraged to adopt a reflective approach to learning in order to identify your own needs in a style that best suits your CPD requirements. When considering whether an activity counts as CPD, you should initially refer back to your CPD goals to see whether it will help you to meet your own development objectives.

Generally speaking, effective CPD should be:

  • be relevant to your scope of practice
  • be of significant intellectual or practical content and deal primarily with matters directly related to the practice of pharmacy – if a CPD activity is accredited, the Board will accept that the activity has been reviewed for its educational quality and for its relevance to a pharmacist's practice
  • consist of a range of different types of activities (i.e. journal articles, webinars, conferences, etc)
  • consist of a range of CPD activity groups 

Examples of CPD training for Pharmacists

Continuing Professional Development can include participation in a wide range of different learning activities that are relevant to current or future practice. It covers both formal and informal learning activities, whether it be through taking a CPD course in a brand new subject area, or simply advancing your knowledge to build on what you already know. You can even tailor your CPD learning to accommodate for the most common problems and issues you come across in your daily role.

Formal CPD typically includes both learning from work and participation-based learning such as attending training courses, workshops, seminars, interactive webinars, and CPD certified events.

Other CPD activities include:

  1. Clinical meetings where a learning element is involved
  2. Scientific conferences and workshops
  3. Publication in peer-review journals
  4. Review of journals
  5. Facilitators at approved CPD educational events

It is recommended that a pharmacist's development should encompass a balanced range of activities. Within the Healthcare & Medical Hub, you can find a full scope of Pharmacy CPD providers and courses covering a range of subjects. For example this includes both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical aspects of practice such as management, research, administration, teaching or training.

Pharmacy CPD requirements

What are the CPD requirements for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians in the UK?

Revalidation replaced prior forms of recording Continuing Professional Development (CPD) as the way in which the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) verifies that registrants – both pharmacists and pharmacy technicians – are fit to practice. It documents how you’ve kept your skills up-to-date, whilst helping you to reflect on how you’ve put this learning into practice.

The revalidation framework sets out our expectations of what pharmacy professionals must do each year to meet the revalidation requirements. Every time a pharmacy professional renews their registration with the GPhC, they will need to submit records to show how they have carried out and recorded revalidation activities.

GPhC CPD requirements

As well as regulating pharmacists and pharmacy technicians as individuals, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is also the regulator of pharmacies across Great Britain. You will need to renew your registration with the GphC and provide evidence that you are continuing to develop your knowledge and skills through appropriate CPD every year.

Pharmacists will need to submit the following records:

  • four CPD entries, (at least two of which should be planned learning activities)
  • one reflective account
  • one peer discussion

In your reflective account, you should reflect on one or more of the following standards:

  • standard 3 – pharmacy professionals must communicate effectively
  • standard 6 – pharmacy professionals must behave professionally
  • standard 9 – pharmacy professionals must demonstrate leadership 

CPD records will be submitted annually, and so are expected to be relevant to the past 12 months of practice. In addition, they should demonstrate the positive impact a learning activity has had on patients, as well as other service users. There is no limit to the number of CPD entries that can be logged in a given year, however, only four CPD records covering unplanned or unplanned learning need to be submitted.

Revalidation requirements were temporarily changed during the COVID-19 pandemic; Between the 1st May and 30th November 2021, you only need: four CPD recorded points; one record of peer discussion; and one reflective account – this being a summary of your actions over the last year. Requirements are subject to change and you should refer to the Gphc website for up to date information.

Other Professional Bodies with CPD requirements

The following professional bodies enforce and support the GPhC’s CPD requirements. Between them, they provide a wealth of resources, events and educational programmes all appropriate for CPD purposes. The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) - Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) - Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine (FMP

What is the difference between Planned and Unplanned CPD?

Pharmacists are required to record two types of learning for their CPD – planned and unplanned. At least two entries each year must be planned in order to meet the GPhC’s requirements.

Planned learning can be undertaken when the individual decides to develop knowledge or skills in advance of undertaking the learning activity (e.g. attendance at an event or conference, or undertaking a specific activity around a known knowledge gap).

Any Planned CPD should include a description and details of:

  • What you want to learn;
  • The relevance of the learning to your practice;
  • How the learning will affect the people using your services
  • The options or activities you have selected to carry out;
  • How the learning (once you have applied it) has benefited the people using your services, as illustrated with an example. 

Unplanned learning occurs when an event occurs that causes a learning activity to be undertaken or carried out without any prior thought or planning (e.g. through reading a journal, undertaking an activity or task, or a discussion with a colleague owing to an interaction during your normal working day).

Unplanned CPD learning should meet the criteria if it describes

  • The activity that enabled new learning or a refresh of current knowledge and skills.
  • What was learned (i.e. skills, knowledge, attitudes and/or behaviours)
  • How this was applied
  • Once applied, how this has benefited people using the service including feedback given. A real example should be provided. This could be the introduction of a new service, knowledge that has been applied to address a specific query or new knowledge that has been used as part of an individual’s practice.
How to manage your CPD

How to manage your CPD requirements as a pharmacist

Using a portfolio to record learning experiences will encourage reflection as well as building evidence to support your professional development. A Personal Development Plan (PDP) is a structured document and record of any CPD activities undertaken during the CPD period (and beyond if applicable). This is an ongoing document that should be regularly re-evaluated and updated.

 It is your responsibility to maintain your own CPD portfolio and it is useful that you:

  • develop and maintain your CPD plan on an accessible platform anytime
  • select appropriate CPD activities to address the competencies identified in your CPD plan that are relevant to your scope of practice
  • reflect on the CPD activity, e.g. how it has changed your practice or led you to undertake further study
  • maintain detailed records of any CPD activities undertaken
  • ensue these records can be verified 

Please note: It used to be a fact that you could submit your entries on paper to the GPhC, however, this is now not possible. CPD records must be easily accessible and readily submittable to mygphc.org. They must be written in good English and must not disclose any sensitive patient information.

The myCPD Portal is a free CPD record tool that can help professionals to log their Continuing Professional Development training in one simple place. Using the myCPD Portal can make it easier to manage any ongoing CPD requirements effectively, set annual CPD targets, store CPD certificates of attendance, and track learning progress throughout the year.

Become a CPD training provider

The accreditation of CPD activities by a recognised organisation provides an assurance that an activity has been reviewed for its educational quality and relevance. The CPD Certification Service was established in 1996, and is the largest and leading independent CPD accreditation organisation working across all industry sectors. Thousands of CPD training courses, events, e-learning programs, conferences, workshops and seminars are formally CPD certified by us every year.

We hope this brief article on CPD requirements for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians was helpful. If you are a Pharmacist or other healthcare professional and are thinking of applying CPD accreditation to your existing training courses and educational events, please contact our team to discuss in more detail.

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For more information from CPD News Team, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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