“The first few weeks after I qualified were hard going, but I think I’ve got used to it all now,” says Zara. “I decided that I might as well make the most of being in ‘learning’ mode so I’m doing quite a bit of CPD. I thought I would put together a portfolio for the RPS Faculty but I can’t because you have to have been practising for a few years. Do you have any ideas on what I can do instead?”
Zara is a prime candidate for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Foundation programme. This recently-launched initiative is for members in their first 1,000 days of practice, and has been designed to help participants gain the knowledge, skills and behaviours that are needed across all settings of pharmacy.
The main element of the programme is a framework that comprises four clusters (patient and pharmaceutical care, professional practice, management and organisation, and personal practice). Each contains a number of competencies that pharmacists can use to self-assess whether they are demonstrating core practice skills consistently, usually, sometimes or rarely.
There are also a number of assessment tools – case-based discussion, pharmaceutical care assessment, direct observation of practical skills and consultation skills assessment are currently available, with reflective account expected in the coming months. These complement the framework by encouraging pharmacists to consider how they go about their work, identify strengths and weaknesses, formulate a plan that will help address any learning gaps, and then review progress.
The aim of the Foundation programme is to support pharmacists in their development towards more advanced practice, at which point they may feel ready to apply to join the RPS Faculty.
While the Foundation is aimed at pharmacists in their first two to three years after qualifying, there are many others who could benefit from the programme, including individuals returning to practice after a career break, anyone who is changing from one sector or practice environment to another, and even those who have been working at the same level for a number of years and want to evaluate any gaps in their skills.
Application involves building a portfolio and submitting it for review along with peer testimonials and an expert practice assessment. For those with experience of more than 10 years, the latter can be via an up-to-date CV.
Have a look at the Foundation Pharmacy Framework (membership login details required). Where do you think you are? What could you do to fill any gaps?