The introduction of a random audit of pharmacists’ continuing professional development (CPD) records is looking more likely following an evaluation of the current “call and review” system that requires individuals to present their CPD evidence routinely every five years.
The move, according to the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), would help keep pharmacists engaged with CPD because they would never be sure if their record was going to be called in for scrutiny.
Pharmacists would also be more likely to update their CPD record regularly, rather than the common practice of completing the paperwork when they approach their call and review deadline.
“This isn’t so much about keeping the profession on its toes,” says Duncan Rudkin, the GPhC’s chief executive and registrar. “It is more about them completing their record at the end [of the five years] which is a big burden and is not integrated as part of their learning and development.”
Details about how an alternative audit system would work — including the size of the sample required — are being drawn up for the GPhC council meeting in September 2015.
The suggestion to abolish the call and review system, which has been in place for the past five years, was first put forward in February 2013 when the GPhC announced a review of its CPD processes. The idea has gained traction following the results of GPhC-commissioned research that asked pharmacists and technicians what they thought of the current process and what it achieved.
Researchers interviewed ten pharmacists, ten technicians and ten CPD assessors. They also looked at the completed records of 200 registrants with details of 1,000 CPD activities.
Their findings suggest that the current system discourages pharmacists from regularly recording their CPD. Although most pharmacists recognised the value of CPD, the process of completing a paper record was perceived as a tick box exercise that had little impact on their practice.
Both pharmacists and CPD assessors want more frequent reviews, the evaluation found, and they want feedback on CPD activities to be more individualised.
Pharmacists also reported that the current process provided little opportunity for reflective practice and they were keen for more guidance from the GPhC about which activities they should complete to fulfil their CPD obligations.
However, the GPhC is reluctant to direct pharmacists on the CPD activities that should be followed.
The issue, according to Rudkin, is whether the decision about activities is one for the professional regulator or for others such as the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. “We haven’t taken a position on that,” he says.