New research into professionalism and pharmacy education were highlighted during a session at the RPS conference.
Trust was found to be the core theme in professionalism in a study undertaken by Rebecca Elvey and a group of students at the University of Manchester published this year. The study used focus groups and investigated the concept of professionalism and its elements in early career pharmacists. “Professionalism in pharmacy, more specifically, patient-centred professionalism, is under researched. The early years of a pharmacist’s career are thought to be critical in terms of the time when professional values and attitudes develop” said Ms Elvey in her presentation.
Ms Elvey described three sub-elements of professionalism identified in the study. The first being ethical values and conduct, trust in the pharmacist doing right by the patient. The second element was the tangible element, involving trust in the pharmacist’s competence. The last element was the soft element, involving trust in the pharmacist’s integrity.
In the same session, a survey study on the impact of the General Pharmaceutical Council code of conduct for pharmacy students and fitness-to-practise procedures on MPharm students was discussed. The study was undertaken by Gareth Kitson and a group of students at the University of Bath, published this year. Students from 18 schools of pharmacy had participated.
Findings show that 69 per cent of respondents read the code before agreeing to abide by it, Mr Kitson said: “In our focus group, when we posed this question, a lot of participants felt that it was a means to an end. To be an MPharm student and continue with their studies they had to sign it.” Female students were more likely to read it than male, and 72 per cent of students with work experience had read it compared with the 59 per cent with no work experience.
However, students were less informed about fitness-to-practise procedures. Mr Kitson explained “Students did feel there was a lack of clarity about what the fitness-to-practise procedures actually were. Participants felt that this may have been because they only encounter them when things go wrong.” He enlightened that fitness to practise had made students feel more restricted in activities, such as drinking alcohol, socialising and missing lectures.
On the other hand, pharmacists involved in teaching were also explored in the session. Zoe Lim and Claire Anderson from the University of Nottingham researched into expanding the teaching capacity in the school of pharmacy in Malawi. The study was published this year. It was found that the best way to boost teaching staff was to import practising pharmacists into teaching.
Improving their own knowledge and clinical care were motivational factors for practising pharmacists to enter teaching explains Ms Lim. Practising pharmacists saw themselves having minimal involvement in research, commented Ms Lim, they perceive it as a “life of publish or perish”. Finance and publication pressure were found to be barriers for practising pharmacists entering teaching. Ms Lim suggested that recognising skills like teaching and practice experience and viewing academia as a continuum of patient care would remove those barriers.
By Rakhee Mistry