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Pharmacy education is everyone’s job, so get involved!

Thomas Fisher
Thomas Fisher


EVERYONE
in the pharmacy team has the potential to be involved in education. From pre-registration students to technicians to senior pharmacists in management, the whole department and beyond will benefit from having education and training embedded in all they do.

Pharmacists are in an unique position to provide educational sessions to a wide variety of healthcare professionals, the general public as well as departmental training.

Presentation and communication skills have rightly been integrated in the undergraduate curriculum for many years. If a pharmacist is unable to talk to patients or present their ideas in a group situation, then it makes it very hard to be an effective practitioner in the modern era.

As a pharmacist based in different teaching hospitals, I have seen different approaches to nurturing junior pharmacists’ teaching and presentation skills and I am keen to share some of them.

Pre-registration students should be encouraged to present cases and audits to a variety of audiences in order to gain valuable experience and hone existing skills. This helps both with the confidence of the student and it also prepares them for their postgraduate diplomas and work, which will increasingly involve presentations of clinical cases and audit.

Students should also be introduced to the marking of diploma presentations, to give them the opportunity to see them and give them and idea of the required standards. Pre-reg trainees should be encouraged to present topics to visiting undergraduate students just as band 6 pharmacists should take the lead in delivering clinical teaching to pre-reg students.

Other examples of how junior pharmacists can develop their teaching skills are assessing pre-reg students on tasks such as drug history taking and documenting medicines information enquiries. Using assessment tools such as the mini-clinical examination (mini-CEX) and the newly introduced medicines consultation framework, junior pharmacists can assess pre-reg students and use the results to aid and guide pre-reg student’s learning and can also reflect on the assessments and improve their own skills.

Pharmacy technicians are a valuable professional resource and should present to all staff groups and students. This could be facilitating learning during lunch sessions to aid new practise, or to patient groups to help them get the most from their medicines.

Community pre-reg students should be aiming teaching sessions at dispensing and counter staff as well as the technicians and pharmacists, and they should be encouraged to share audit results locally, as well as regionally, to ensure the audits undertaken make a difference.

Pharmacists in the community interact with and educate the general public on a daily basis but it shouldn’t stop there. There are opportunities to present to groups of local GP’s, nursing staff and patient groups all of whom would benefit from the knowledge and perspective our profession can bring. Everyone has a part to play.

Education and training links in symbiotically with continuing professional education (CPD) recording, as every time you present something new or assess a presentation, it is a learning opportunity and therefore has the potential to be recorded as a CPD cycle. If these are recorded the same day as the session is delivered, then evidence states a larger proportion of the knowledge and experience is retained.

We can all get involved in education and training, not only to make the CPD call easier to handle, but to encourage reflective practice which makes better pharmacists.

Thomas Fisher is a clinical tutor in therapeutics at Lancaster Medical School/pharmacy department, Royal Lancaster Infirmary

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