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.
Other CPD activities include:
- Clinical meetings where a learning element is involved
- Scientific conferences and workshops
- Publication in peer-review journals
- Review of journals
- 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.