A massive shake-up of the continuing professional development (CPD) process underpins new proposals for revalidating pharmacy professionals just published by the regulator, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).
Currently, pharmacy professionals have to make declarations every year that they meet the regulator’s standards and remain fit to practise. They also have to record nine CPD activities and provide those records to the GPhC, if requested for review purposes.
Under the new proposals, published in a consultation document on 24 April 2017, pharmacy professionals will have to undertake only four CPD activities, but they will also have to complete two new additional activities – a peer discussion, and a reflective account against one of the revised and simplified standards for pharmacy professionals.
For the peer discussion, the pharmacy professional will have to identify a colleague with whom to speak about their practice and record the benefit it has for the people using their services. This conversation could be in person, over the phone or via Skype.
The colleague could be another pharmacy professional, or another health professional or academic the pharmacy professional works with. The consultation document says that the GPhC wants the relationship to be “trusted, respected, open and honest, and feel like a ‘safe space’ where learning can arise from things that have gone well and not so well”. The same peer can be used repeatedly, and if a pharmacist is selected for review, details of what was discussed will not have to be disclosed.
“Peer discussion is a valuable exercise for bringing about improvement and reflection. We also see this as being an important way to reduce the sense of professional isolation that many pharmacy professionals have reported to us,” says the GPhC consultation document.
“We also know that members of the public think it is important that other people are involved in the process of reflection, to give them further assurance that an objective perspective is brought in to enhance learning and development.”
For the reflective account, the pharmacy professional will be expected to submit a written piece of work, such as an account of how they engaged with a patient, to show that they are reflecting on the standards for pharmacy professionals. The GPhC admitted that some pharmacy professionals found this exercise “confusing” during piloting, so the Council will need to provide supporting guidance and examples.
Records of all these activities will have to be to be submitted every year at the same time that pharmacy professionals make their declarations for renewal of registration. The GPhC is creating an integrated online recording tool so that pharmacy professionals can use one system to log into their account to both record entries and renew their registration.
The GPhC spent almost three years developing the proposals, including piloting the proposed changes to CPD, recording with more than 1,300 volunteers.
Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the GPhC, said: “These proposals have been built up in layers over a period of time through a really thorough process – not just analysis and working out what can work and what might work but actual experience of people who were involved in piloting and testing, so we have a reasonably high level of confidence that we have a cogent set of proposals here, which are as far as things as this can be, based on and informed by a solid basis of evidence rather than just opinion.”
Rudkin added: “It’s a further opportunity, particularly for those who perhaps haven’t been involved so far, to actually think: ‘how would this work for me, do I really understand it, and can I see the benefits?’
“We are going to be particularly interested to get feedback not only on the process and standards, but also on the way we talk about these things because words like ‘reflective account’ and ‘peer discussion’ are not inevitably self-explanatory.”
The proposals will then be finalised and communicated to pharmacy professionals, with implementation starting in 2018. However, the GPhC would not plan to start to review revised CPD records submitted under the new system until 2019, and would not review records for the new peer discussion and reflective account elements until 2020.
A consultation on the proposals is now open until 17 July 2017.