How to design optimal induction pathways for pharmacy professionals

Important considerations and advice to support pharmacy professionals in creating and developing effective structured induction pathways.
Photo of a supervisor showing a trainee a document in induction

After reading this article, you should be able to:

When starting a new role, the amount of information that a pharmacy professional must take on board can be overwhelming. A structured induction pathway provides an opportunity to welcome the new employee, help them integrate into the organisation and provide all the information and support required to become an effective member of the team. Providing this information and support in stages can accelerate an individual’s progress, and prevent information overload and feelings of overwhelm​[1,2]​.

The ‘NHS Long Term Workforce Plan’ recommends the use of induction pathways in the recruitment of support workers, citing social prescribing link workers in primary care networks​[3,4]​. An employer-led approach supports good governance, as there will be a record of what has been covered at induction.

The induction period is a vital time for employers and organisations to support their new starter and can impact on absenteeism, staff retention and organisational reputation​[5]​. A new starter who has received support and guidance is more likely to recommend the organisation to other potential employees.

The first 100 days in a role is a crucial period and originates from US President Franklin D Roosevelt’s initial actions in office, in which he coined the term “the first 100 days”. It is now recognised as a benchmark in which to ensure early success​[6]​. This first 100 days is a critical opportunity for an employee to gain confidence and transition into a new role, following a plan to highlight what to work on and create strong foundations for the new role​[7]​.

Corporate and organisational inductions tend to focus on the company goals. Although this type of induction informs the new employee about the organisational mission and policies, it may not address or develop the skills required for their new position.

The purpose of induction

An induction should empower a new starter and ensure that the organisation gives them access to the tools required for them to do their job well.


Prior to the new starter commencing their role, staff could meet to discuss the induction plan, including establishing the prior knowledge and skills of the individual and identifying their fundamental needs as a new starter. This will determine how long the induction will be scheduled for — the length of time can be adjusted according to the new starter’s needs, requirements and working hours (e.g. if part time or full time). This process could be included with the normal pre-employment tasks, such as finalising the contract of employment and financial details.

The structured induction pathway can be prepared in advance and shared close to or on the first day, which may reduce some of the new starter’s uncertainty about what to expect. It may also help them prepare for their new role and add to the excitement of starting a new role.

The Figure shows the factors that make an induction pathway successful.

Graphic showing the elements of a structured induction pathway: all activities documented in a timetable; regular reviews and support; phasing in of responsibilities; clear information; mentor/buddy; allocated time to reap standard operating procedures and completed mandatory training, and; as the induction comes to an end, move to initial objectives.
Figure: The elements of a successful structured induction pathway

The Pharmaceutical Journal

What to include in a structured induction pathway

A simple structured induction pathway should include:

  • Introductions to teammates and other colleagues in the organisation;
  • A tour of the new workplace(s);
  • Completion of mandatory training;
  • Reading standard operating procedures (SOPs);
  • Access to systems and login details;
  • Shadowing colleagues and learning about the different systems;
  • Any in-house or formal training requirements, such as how to use clinical systems.

Where available, employee handbooks, organisational objectives and policies can also be included. Some example induction checklists are linked to in the ‘Useful resources’ section at the end of the article.

What should be avoided?

It is important not to overwhelm the new starter with too much information by condensing a mass of information into a short period. The aim is to create a reasonable timetable with allocated time to complete all of the tasks and activities the employer would like the new starter to know and learn.

The induction document

The induction pathway should be summarised in one document. It should be written in a friendly and welcoming tone.

This document can hold a wealth of information and should consolidate all that you would like the new starter to know and be able to do to successfully complete their probationary period.

It should be designed as a resource for the new starter to refer back to, also enabling them to complete tasks independently, and may include the following:

  • Useful information resources and websites;
  • Recommended reading from the organisation, national documents, Care Quality Commission reports and links to company policies;
  • Useful contacts (i.e. email addresses and telephone numbers);
  • Opening hours and the agreed contracted hours of work;
  • Links to where relevant files and folders are stored on company servers;
  • A list of organisation policies and where to find them;
  • Advice on how to book on to any internal/external training courses;
  • A copy of the organisational structure or a list of staff members;
  • Simple ‘how to’ guides on how to use equipment, IT packages, printers, etc;
  • Definitions of local acronyms.

This document can be collated and improved over time and should be adjusted for different staff roles.

The first day

A new employee’s first day is the formal ‘welcome’ to the organisation. It should be led by the new starter’s line manager and include a tour of the workplace and introductions and socialisation with the immediate and wider team. The day should include health and safety information (e.g. what to do in case of a fire and location of fire exits), completion of any necessary paperwork and the provision of identity badges and passcodes.

The new starter should be introduced by their line manager to colleagues — this may be everyone working in a small organisation or their immediate team in a larger organisation. Introductory meetings with other colleagues they will have occasional contact with, such as the heads of other departments, may also be scheduled.

A corporate induction may need to be timetabled into the role induction. The organisation may schedule this regularly; for example, at the beginning of each month a senior executive might give a welcome and overview of organisation objectives to all new starters. Alternatively, the corporate induction could be a presentation shared by the HR department on the first day.

The first week

Time for any mandatory training, reading SOPs, and access to IT and clinical systems should be scheduled for the first week. Reading SOPs can be organised into smaller sessions and dispersed with other induction activities, such as shadowing colleagues. This can be beneficial to see how work is done and help consolidate the SOPs.

A focused session on how to use clinical IT systems can enhance productivity and greatly increase knowledge and confidence in using systems. Internal procedures, such as how to book annual leave and who to notify in the event of sickness, should also be covered.

A list of essential resources, references and websites is also useful for a new starter.

Supervision and support

As a line manager, formal and regular opportunities for supervision and support should be scheduled​[8]​. Initially, weekly one-to-one meetings might be useful, reducing to fortnightly, then monthly, once the new starter has settled in. Ensuring regular contact from the outset helps build the line manager/employee relationship and enables the line manager to deal promptly with any issues that arise in the initial weeks of employment.

However, the entire induction programme does not need to be completed by the line manager and involving other members of the team will help the new starter to integrate into the team.


It can be beneficial for the new starter to be assigned a mentor who is a peer. This person will be responsible for training and supervising the new starter. If this system is adopted, the induction document should include an outline of their responsibilities. It is important that high-quality mentorship and support is given to the new starter and they should be encouraged to ask questions with a clear understanding that they are not expected to know everything immediately​[9]​.

Constructive feedback to guide performance

The induction period is a vital time for supervision, guidance and constructive feedback. By having a conversation with the new starter that balances both positive and negative feedback and encourages self-reflection, this should encourage exemplary behaviour and motivate the individual to perform as per the organisational standards and expectations​[9]​. The mentor or supervisor should always be mindful not to overwhelm or overload the new starter with excessive feedback.

Phasing in tasks

Initially phasing in tasks, giving the new starter lighter responsibilities before progressing to more complex tasks, will also help. Steadily adding to the tasks and responsibilities phases the new starter into a normal working routine in a manageable way.

Team meetings

The induction can also include information on any regular team or organisational meetings. The new starter should be informed in advance of the purposes and norms of the meetings and provided with the agenda (if there is one).

Training and networks

The new starter should be directed to any training that they need to enrol for and to local, regional or national support networks they can subscribe to. For example, they may enrol on the following courses: the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE) Primary care pharmacy education pathway, a clinical diploma, independent prescribing, accuracy checking accreditation or leadership qualifications.

There are many national organisations and networks available to support pharmacy professionals, including the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Primary Care Pharmacy Association or Association of Pharmacy Technicians. The CPPE has compiled a comprehensive list of networks here. There may also be local and regional networks that the new starter should be introduced to.

Local competencies and reviews

The structured induction plan could include reference to local competencies, so that the new starter can prove competence prior to completing complex tasks independently or unsupervised. This can provide assurance to the employer that tasks are completed correctly. Workplaces create competency assessments locally. The induction can outline expectations of when the competencies should be completed and this can link to planned probationary period reviews.

Initial objective setting

At the end of the induction period, the new starter should be moved onto the organisation’s usual corporate personal development plan. Even after the induction is complete, there may be additional training needs, which can be discussed and included in personal objectives.

Feedback at the end of the induction period

It is important at the end of the induction period to seek feedback on the induction process from the new starter. It is also important to get feedback from the teams providing the induction, regarding how the process was for them. This can be verbal and anonymous. In larger organisations, an anonymous survey of new starters could be useful to see how they are navigating their new workplace. Be sensitive to workplace undercurrents, as a new starter may not feel comfortable raising a complaint.

Box: Case study

A structured induction pathway was created for pharmacy professionals joining a primary care setting. The roles were new and included tasks that the new starters would not have previous experience with. At the end of the induction period:

  • 100% (20/20) of new starters said they were satisfied with the induction and that it helped them settle into their new role;
  • 100% (20/20) of new starters reported being nervous, excited, supported and welcomed but did not report feeling overwhelmed;
  • The aspects of the induction the new starters liked best were:
    • Meeting their teams;
    • Training on IT systems;
    • Shadowing a colleague to gain an understanding of the role.
  • 35% (7/20) of new starters said the parts of the induction they disliked was travelling to different sites;
  • 25% (5/20) of new starters identified some additional information they would like, such as more information on the training course they were embarking on;
  • Overall, the new starters felt that the induction period, which took four weeks and included phasing into their normal working routine in the final week, was about the right length;
  • 100% (20/20) reported feeling more confident to start in their new role.

Following this induction process, 85% (17/20) of staff have been retained in their roles and many informally added they had not previously had a formal induction process.

Drawbacks of a structured induction pathway

There are drawbacks of a structured induction pathway. New starters may become over-reliant on guidance from the organisation and may not be as proactive, as they have been ‘led’ from the beginning. Discussing expectations and setting personal objectives can overcome this.


Although it may seem time consuming at first, once a structured induction pathway has been developed, it can make the process of bringing on new employees very efficient. The new starter knows what to expect and the organisation has a pathway that all teams can refer to. It can be adapted for each role and can be used to support team members at all levels.

  1. 1
    Induction: A Look at the Induction Process, and the Purpose of Induction for Employer and Employee. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. 2022. (accessed November 2023)
  2. 2
    Cazaly L. How to Save Yourself From “Information Overload”. Harvard Business Review. 2021. (accessed November 2023)
  3. 3
    NHS Long Term Workforce Plan. NHS England. 2023. (accessed November 2023)
  4. 4
    An Induction Guide for Social Prescribing Link Workers in Primary Care Networks. NHS England. 2019. (accessed November 2023)
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
    Gault B. How to make an impact in your first 100 days in a new job. Chartered Management Institute. 2022. (accessed November 2023)
  8. 8
    How to support pharmacists during hospital rotations. Pharmaceutical Journal. 2023.
  9. 9
    How to give and receive constructive feedback. Pharmaceutical Journal. 2016.
Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, November 2023, Vol 311, No 7979;311(7979)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2023.1.199427

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