The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has got revalidation and its Faculty raison d’etre wrong. Firstly, revalidation will not demand the level of scrutiny by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) that the RPS Faculty sets. There are three rather tortuous levels to be achieved by the Faculty, and what the GPhC will require will probably not exceed the current level one because it will need a bog standard one-size-fits-all approach to meet a basic rationale for practice of its registrants.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council does not have a level of practice required above its standard registrant level as of 2016, and does not intend to push for advanced nurse practitioner competencies as a prerequisite for maintaining registration either. This is on account of expense and it is unnecessary for continued nurse registration.
Moreover, the Faculty has a complex web of bells and whistles. The Royal College of Nursing accredits a number of postgraduate diploma and MSc courses with automatic status given to its graduates as advanced nurse practitioners. A simple and easy procedure.
How on earth any applicant to the Faculty passes through its subjective process is nothing short of mind boggling; too elitist for most pharmacists and serves no function for rank-and-file practitioners trying to negotiate the whole awful process.
Catherine Duggan, director of professional development and support, and Hannah Wilton, head of faculty at the RPS, respond: The RPS is seeking to ensure that Faculty membership exceeds the requirements for continuing fitness to practise (CFtP) that the GPhC is developing. We know that there will be a continuing professional development (CPD) element, a peer assessment of sorts and some form of evidence of progression. The Faculty provides all of these in the assessment process and the subsequent development. It is right that Faculty membership remains aspirational and seeks to support developments and advancement of individuals, beyond the minimum, as practice and services develop and advance. The Nursing and Midwifery Council has set the requirements for CFtP at the registration level. What we want to do is support our members and the profession to be able, where appropriate, to deliver excellent care and new services, and to develop new skills where needed and ensure this system counts across many elements.
This is what members have been asking for. Faculty membership can also help to highlight development opportunities for new services and roles. We are working closely with employers to ensure that the Faculty membership can also count towards the performance development record for an individual, so that one system counts for everything: recognition by peers, demonstration of CFtP and plan for the year ahead in a pharmacist’s job.
The three stages of Faculty membership do not require anything different from applicants for each stage. One process applies to all. This is the submission of a portfolio with examples of evidence of impact on patient care, public health and the area of practice. Anyone who is registered for more than two years can submit to attain Faculty members. The first stage reflects established practice, the second reflects the demonstration of excellence and the third reflects exceptional practice. This is the job of the assessors, not the applicant.
The Faculty is a straightforward process with the advanced pharmacy framework (APF) at its heart. The APF is an evidence-based developmental framework, designed to collate evidence for up to 40 years’ practice. Once it has been completed the first time, the CPD element will be relatively easy: 6 to 12 entries over a year will fulfil the GPhC annual requirements.
We have 282 Faculty members to date who have successfully completed the quality-assured peer assessment of their advanced practice. Feedback from colleagues who have undertaken, and are undertaking, the Faculty journey has been positive. Nobody has reported that it is “elitist” and many who have gone through this are from “rank-and-file” jobs from all sectors, scopes and stages of practice represented across Britain, with interest from Northern Ireland and further afield. These include community pharmacy locums, hospital chief pharmacists, drug development scientists and pharmacists working with GP practices.