Trainee pharmacists in the east of England could be offered coaching sessions for professional development, following the award of a contract with Health Education England (HEE).
According to the contract tender, published on 14 April 2022 and worth £45,000 over three years, HEE is looking for a company to provide “coaching support for trainee doctors, dentists and pharmacists across the east of England”.
The aim of the coaching service is to support the trainee “in achieving specific goals by providing expert advice and guidance”.
Trainees will be referred to the coaching programme through HEE’s Professional Support and Wellbeing Service (PSW), which will authorise “a maximum of three sessions”.
“For any additional sessions, a formal approval document will need to be completed by the provider and submitted to the PSW for authorisation.”
HEE told The Pharmaceutical Journal on 19 April 2022 that the support is new for trainee pharmacists in the east of England, adding that “as pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are now under HEE East of England’s remit, they will receive the same PSW offer as trainee doctors and dentists”.
HEE in the east of England currently offers regional coaching and mentoring schemes for trainees in cardiology, clinical oncology, internal medicine, infectious diseases, neurology, psychiatry, and trauma and orthopaedics.
The region also began piloting mentoring schemes in February 2022 for trainees in obstetrics and gynaecology, and paediatrics.
HEE said the potential benefits of the coaching support for trainees include “an increased ability to identify crucial factors which will determine career satisfaction”; “an opportunity to express your ideas and concerns before an impartial and non-judgemental coach”; and “an increased ability to evaluate and prioritise options to make crucial decisions”.
When asked whether coaching is offered in other parts of the country, HEE said: “We have a number of PSWs across the country with different ways of operating — there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach.”
A free coaching service for preregistration pharmacists is currently offered by HEE in London through its Professional Support Unit, with trainees able to access “up to four individual sessions with a qualified and experienced coach specialising in coaching healthcare professionals”.
“Coaching can be a highly effective way of developing awareness and insight to how we think and behave in the workplace,” the HEE London website says.
“Individuals often find that coaching leads to greater satisfaction and fulfilment, heightened levels of engagement and performance, enhanced self-confidence and assertiveness, and a greater sense of wellbeing.”
The website adds that coaches use “structured questioning, often gently challenging unhelpful or limiting assumptions, beliefs and perspectives”, with the aim of supporting “the individual to not only find their own solutions, but to have the confidence and motivation to move forward in their preferred direction”.
The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), which overseas the ‘Standards for initial education and training of pharmacists‘, said in a statement on 19 April 2022 that “student pharmacists must be supported in all learning and training environments to develop as learners and professionals”.
It noted that, under standard 7.3, the GPhC requires that “trainee pharmacists must have access to pharmacy professionals who are able to act as role models and mentors, giving professional support and guidance”.
“The standards cover the knowledge, skills, understanding and professional behaviours a student/trainee pharmacist must demonstrate to pass their initial education and training as well as our requirements for organisations providing initial education and training,” the GPhC said.
“They do not specify a particular approach – the achievement of the standards is, however, key to ensure patients and the public get safe and effective care.”