5) ASTON RESEARCH REFORMING INTERNATIONAL PHARMACY EDUCATION POLICY
Submitting InstitutionAston University
Unit of AssessmentAllied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy
Summary Impact TypeSocietal
Research Subject Area(s)
Education: Curriculum and Pedagogy, Specialist Studies In Education
Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration
Summary of the impact
Statutory regulators from Great Britain and Ireland commissioned
Professors Keith Wilson and Christopher Langley to undertake research at
Aston University to establish an evidence-base for pharmacy educational
reform. These systematic evaluations, conducted between 2003 and 2010,
have redefined pharmacy education in Great Britain and Ireland, notably
resulting in a re-focus on patient need. Arising from the influence of
Aston research, the following impacts on policy, practitioners and
services resulted in;
- An evidence-base for pharmacy educational reform in Great Britain.
- A revised national government policy in the development of pharmacy
- A restructuring of pharmacy education policy and guidelines in
The international climate of pharmacy is re-professionalising from a
technical to a more clinically-oriented profession. Since 2003, Professors
Wilson and Langley (then lecturer) have developed a programme of research,
commissioned by national statutory regulators for pharmacy. Using a matrix
of quantitative and qualitative research techniques to establish the
strengths and weaknesses of current national systems of pharmaceutical
education to first registration, the views of a wide variety of key
stakeholders were gathered. The resultant peer-reviewed reports have been
instrumental in forming recommendations to government, and to statutory
regulatory bodies for pharmacy, on the optimal ways to advance pharmacy
education and training to professional qualification.
Research findings have been analysed in the context of international
changes in health education across multiple professions, and have been
grounded in current educational theory. A series of research instruments
were developed which have been employed to elucidate an understanding of
the educational process from the perspective of all stakeholders including
educators, students, health professionals and professional regulators.
Commissioned by the then regulator for pharmacy in Great Britain (GB),
the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, and following a
national tendering process, we were the first research team to undertake a
national base-line assessment of pharmacy undergraduate education, and to
conduct a parallel review on the educational and career motivations of
students entering a period of education leading to potential membership of
a healthcare profession (S3.4; S3.5). Our 2005 report "MPharm
Programmes: Where are we now?" (S3.1) provided a unique baseline
understanding of the teaching, learning and assessment methods and
educational philosophy used within UK MPharm degrees, just at the time of
market expansion. In parallel, publication of the 2006 report "Pharmacy
undergraduate students: career choices and expectations across a
four-year degree programme" (S3.2), examined students' motivation
for studying pharmacy and established a baseline of the career
aspirations, motivations and expectations of students within undergraduate
pharmacy education in the UK.
Building upon the GB work, research undertaken by Wilson and Langley,
commissioned by the regulator for pharmacy in Ireland (the Pharmaceutical
Society of Ireland, PSI) and following European tender, has examined the
entire educational process up to first registration in Ireland (S3.6).
Results from the peer-reviewed Pharmacy Education and Accreditation
Reviews (PEARs) Report (S3.3) included six major evidence-based
recommendations, the most important two being:
- The current 4+1 model of pharmacy education to first registration
(where students spend four years at university and then undertake a
pre-registration year in practice) should be replaced by a five-year
fully integrated programme of education, training and assessment as the
basis for application for registration as a pharmacist (Recommendation
- To ensure successful implementation, the development and delivery of
the new integrated programme of pharmacy education, training and
assessment should be assisted by the establishment of a National Forum
Key Researchers and dates:
K. Wilson (Lecturer 1976 - 1995, Senior Lecturer 1995 - 2003, Professor
2003 - date).
C. Langley (Lecturer 2001 - 2008, Senior lecturer 2008 - 2011, Reader
2011 - 2012, Professor 2012 - date).
References to the research
2. Keith Wilson, Jill Jesson, Chris Langley, Laura Clarke and
Katie Hatfield. Pharmacy undergraduate students: career choices and
expectations across a four-year degree programme. Report commissioned by
the Pharmacy Practice Research Trust. 10 citations. August 2006. ISBN:
0-9550029-5-8. Available from:
4. An evaluation of teaching and learning methods in UK Schools of
Pharmacy. Project commissioned and funded by the Royal Pharmaceutical
Society of Great Britain (£60,000. awarded to Wilson (PI), Jesson and
Reddy 2003-2005; available on request).
5. Profile of motivation and aspirations of entrants to pharmacy
for a career in pharmacy. Project commissioned and funded by the Royal
Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (£60,000 awarded to Wilson (PI),
Jesson and Reddy 2003-2006; available on request).
6. Review of pharmacy education in Ireland. Project commissioned
and funded by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (£97,000 awarded to
Wilson and Langley, 2008-2010 available on request).
Details of the impact
In both GB and Ireland, our research reports (S3.1; S3.2; S3.3) have
underpinned governmental and regulatory body proposals for major
restructuring of the format of, and approach to, pharmacy education to
first registration. These proposals relate to both the four-year
undergraduate degree and pre-registration training period, and also focus
on a recalibration of the pedagogic strategies to increase work-placed
learning and to connect the university learning with practice.
An evidence-base for pharmacy educational reform in Great Britain
Results from our work undertaken within GB (S3.1; S3.2) are informing
current (2013) governmental and regulatory body policy for the development
of pharmacy education to first registration. Both reports have become key
resources within the field of pharmacy education research and have had a
direct impact on the content of the General Pharmaceutical Council's
(GPhC) publication Future pharmacists: Standards for the initial
education and training of pharmacists (S5.1). Future pharmacists
is the publication which contains the new baseline educational standards
for pharmacy undergraduate and pre-registration education, which all
Schools of Pharmacy in Great Britain are required to meet to remain
Revised national government policy in the development of pharmacy
Furthermore, both reports (S3.1; S3.2) have informed the 2011 Modernising
Pharmacy Careers (MPC) Discussion Paper on recommended major reforms of
pre-registration pharmacy education. The MPC programme was driven by the
Department of Health and linked into Medical Education England (MEE),
which had an advisory role to the Minister of State on the education and
training of doctors, dentists, health scientists and pharmacists. Our
research formed part of the evidence-base used within Workstream I (the
Workstream examining education to first registration) of MPC to develop
the discussion paper (S5.3) recently approved by MEE for recommendation to
the Minister of State proposing a fundamental change in the pattern of
pharmacy education (S5.4).
Restructuring of pharmacy education policy and guidelines in Ireland
The 2010 PEARs Report (S3.3) formed a root and branch review of the
five-year programme of pharmacy education and training in Ireland,
together with a review of accreditation models and criteria. This is the
first time an entire country's pharmaceutical education to first
registration has been examined in such detail, and since publication the
recommendations have formed the basis for educational change for pharmacy
education over the subsequent fifteen to twenty years. The PEARs
recommendations were endorsed by the Council of the PSI, who began
implementing them in their entirety following presentation to, and full
acceptance by, the Minister for Health and Children in Dublin on 8th
July 2010 (S5.5). The PSI Council commenced full implementation, firstly
by establishing the National Forum for Pharmacy Education and
Accreditation in March 2011 to oversee the development and on-going
delivery of the new integrated programme of pharmacy education, training
and assessment for roll out in the near future. It aims to produce more
clinically-focused pharmacists who will be positioned to play a critical
role in the delivery of future integrated healthcare services in Ireland,
as well as enhancing their career opportunities in all areas of practice
including the pharmaceutical industry (S5.6.7). On 1st April
2011, the PSI issued a call for expressions of interest from pharmacists
with an interest/expertise in education, training and assessment to
participate in the work of the National Forum (S5.8). The National Forum's
Terms of Reference were published in July 2011 and link directly to the
second of the six major recommendations from our work (S5.9). The first
meeting of the National Forum took place in August 2011.
On 2nd February 2012, the National Forum was officially
launched by the Taoiseach who stated in support of the implementation of
the PEARs Report recommendations: "I strongly welcome the new pharmacy
model which will help to position Ireland at the forefront
internationally of pharmacy innovation and education". At the same
event, The PSI President said "The National Forum [...] provides an
opportunity to engage with all the relevant stakeholders to ensure that
in the future the pharmacy profession can meet the needs of patients,
industry, communities and pharmacists themselves." (S5.7). In
parallel, the PSI has developed new accreditation standards
(Recommendation 5) and a new accreditation process (Recommendation 6) to
give effect to two more of the recommendations from the PEARs report
(S5.10). In July 2013, the Council of the PSI agreed the policy areas that
required a statutory underpinning to give effect to the new qualification
and drafting commenced in the last quarter of 2013 with a view to
facilitating commencement of the new degree in the near future.
Sources to corroborate the impact
1. Future pharmacist: Standards for the initial education and
training of pharmacists. General Pharmaceutical Council. May 2011. See: http://www.pharmacyregulation.org/sites/default/files/GPhC_Future_Pharmacists.pdf.
2. Supporting statement from the Head of Education &
Registration Policy, General Pharmaceutical Council.
3. Anthony Smith and Robert Darracott. Modernising Pharmacy
Careers Programme. Review of pharmacist undergraduate education and
pre-registration training and proposals for reform. Discussion paper.
Medical Education England. See: http://www.mee.nhs.uk/pdf/MPC_Discussion_Paper.pdf.
4. Supporting statement from the Head Research at the Royal
Pharmaceutical Society of GB.
5. Supporting statement from the Head of Professional Development
and Learning, Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland.
6. See: http://www.thepsi.ie/gns/education/current-developments/National_Forum.aspx.
7. See: http://www.thepsi.ie/tns/news/latest-news/12-02-02/Taoiseach_Says_New_Pharmacy_Education_and_Training_Structures_Will_Support_Future_of_Irish_Healthcare.aspx.
8. See: http://www.thepsi.ie/Libraries/Education/National_Forum_call_for_expressions_of_interest_FINAL_06042011.sflb.ashx.
9. See: http://www.thepsi.ie/Libraries/Education/TermsOfRefNationalForum_FINAL_rev1.sflb.ashx.
10. See: http://thepsi.ie/gns/education/accreditation.aspx