The rate of applications from pharmacists to become consultants has seen “exponential growth” since May 2022, according to the latest figures from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS).
The RPS took over the process for approving consultant pharmacist posts, which was previously managed through a regional process, in January 2020, and launched a consultant pharmacist credentialing programme in October 2020.
During the first 19 months of the new programme, between 1 October 2020 and 30 April 2022, the RPS told The Pharmaceutical Journal that it received 35 applications from pharmacists to become consultant pharmacists.
However, in the latest six-month application window, from 1 May 2022 to 30 October 2022, it has received 23 applications.
“We’ve seen very recently an exponential growth in the individuals that are voluntarily moving themselves through this credentialing journey,” said Joseph Oakley, RPS associate director of education and professional development.
Oakley explained that the recent increase in submissions for credentialing is likely to be because it takes time for pharmacists to build their portfolios.
“It is not unusual for those who have been building their portfolios over a few years to then be at a stage where they feel they are ready to submit,” he said.
Consultant pharmacist credentialing is available to all pharmacists practising in patient-focused roles. It involves a programme of learning that is based on the consultant pharmacist curriculum, which articulates an entry-level standard to consultant pharmacist practice.
Pharmacists going through the process must demonstrate that they have met the curriculum outcomes by undertaking a wide range of different types of learning, and creating an e-portfolio, which is ultimately submitted to the RPS and assessed by a panel of experts.
Pharmacists who successfully complete the consultant pharmacist credentialing programme are considered ‘consultant-ready’ and will be eligible to take up approved consultant pharmacist posts.
Elen Jones, director for RPS Wales, commented: “We are delighted to see the recent increase in pharmacists embarking on their consultant pharmacist credentialing journey.
“We now look forward to seeing consultant pharmacists working across all settings, with opportunities and roles reflecting the increasing numbers for the benefits of patients. With pharmacists demonstrating their ability to upskill for the wider benefits of the NHS, the need for formal protected learning time to provide pharmacists with the time, space and capacity to engage in learning and building their portfolios must be formally recognised.”
To date, the RPS has approved 45 posts under the new process and successfully credentialed 20 candidates as ‘consultant-ready’.
The increase in applications comes as the RPS proposed developing post-registration curricula and credentialing for all pharmacists and pharmacy technicians working with patients, as part of its response to the Independent UK Commission on Pharmacy Professional Leadership.
The commission was set up by the four UK chief pharmaceutical officers in May 2022, and is due to make recommendations on the role of a professional leadership body in professional education and training for pharmacists and technicians in January 2023.
This article was updated on 28 November 2022 to include additional comment from Elen Jones, director for RPS Wales