In the pandemic, 56% of pharmacists experienced increased hours (Source: The Pharmaceutical Journal). This is because restricted access to GP access caused people to instead turn to pharmacies.
The role of pharmacists in the UK is evolving at a great rate. This is hugely due to the Coronavirus pandemic. They’re currently involved in providing information about prescription drugs, promoting population health, and advising patients about how to properly consume medication.
Understanding how strains caused by Coronavirus, and other factors, are impacting and will impact CPD for pharmacists, is essential for CPD managers in the pharmacy industry. So, if you coordinate CPD for pharmacists, read below as we detail what changes are happening in pharmacy CPD.
The Impact of COVID on CPD in Pharmacy
We said before that with restricted access to GP practices, many people turned to their local pharmacists for help during COVID. They expected them to provide advice and information on a much wider range of medical issues. This was to the extent that 56% of pharmacists experienced increased hours. Sandra Gidley, Royal Pharmaceutical Society President, stated that “pharmacies will continue to deliver NHS services long into the future”. If this is the case, the expanded skills put on pharmacists will have to continue to be a part of CPD for pharmacists.
Skills Platform emphasised that to cope with this increased strain on pharmacists, more investment had to go into CPD. And this CPD must be targeted towards fulfilling their new role.
How has CPD for pharmacists been adapted to help pharmacists in this way?
Typically, pharmacists in the UK must record and submit 6 records to the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) platform myGPhC.org. These include 4 CPD records (at least 2 of which must be planned), one peer discussion and one reflective account.
However, the disruption caused by COVID-19, and pharmacists’ increased workloads, led the GPhC to change their requirements temporarily. Now, pharmacists with a registration renewal deadline on or before 31st May 2022 only need to submit a reflective account, and none of the other 5 revalidation records. This change will be the case until at least the end of May 2022. Furthermore, the GPhC will give pharmacy professionals at least 3 months’ notice before full revalidation requirements will be reintroduced.
While full revalidation requirements will be reintroduced this year, the GPhC doesn’t have a past of being unreasonable when professionals can’t carry out CPD requirements. For instance, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) notes that when pharmacists fail to meet the required CPD standards, the GPhC may ask you to carry out additional CPD, usually more targeted to specific areas of your practice, rather than immediately cancelling your registration. As the pandemic still isn’t over, we hope to see that pharmacists are still encouraged to prioritise their learning and choose what to include in their CPD entries. Furthermore, we expect that they shouldn’t be scrutinised for how they adjust to going back to having to carry out more than just the one piece of CPD.
This is especially important as the NPA notes that pharmacists should be helped to focus their planned CPD on activities that are most relevant to their service users, colleagues and organisation. Organisations have very different priorities today. For instance, pharmacists in small pharmacies will be focused on helping the business to keep going. So, CPD managers should tailor CPD to better serve pharmacists and actually benefit them in this new normal.
Electronic-Based CPD For Pharmacists
Currently, pharmacists can record their CPD either online or in a paper-based format. However, the GPhC have plans to eventually phase out their paper-based method.
Electronic methods of recording CPD make it much easier for pharmacists to get ideas for more interesting and varied CPD activities. This is because, when members of associations such as the NPA record their CPD Online, they’re able to grant permission for others to view their CPD records. The NPA also encourages members to discuss CPD with colleagues and peers to get a broader range of ideas for CPD records.
Furthermore, Skills Platform recommends a course by The Health Professional Academy. In this course, modules only take 30-60 minutes to complete and are mobile-optimised. Therefore, they can be completed at a convenient time for learners, on the go.
With digital advancements, pharmacists that have been put under pressure by the pandemic can now get support from professional peers online. Furthermore, their training materials are expected to be easier to complete on mobile devices from multiple locations. Therefore, you should be providing online CPD platforms for pharmacists and offer bitesized, accessible learning.
What Are Current Obstacles to CPD For Pharmacists?
Between February and May 2017, Pharmacy Practice conducted an observational study of 591 pharmacists. They found that only 55.4% felt confident that CPD meets their needs. They also found that the most essential barriers against participation in CPD were group learning activities (location/distance), job restrictions, and lack of time. Motivation had a significant positive correlation with attitude, but was negatively correlated with barriers. Attitude had a significant negative correlation with barriers. Therefore, CPD needs to be overall more accessible, e.g. by being available remotely and easier to view quickly, to create more motivation for CPD.
CPD Online can increase the accessibility and availability of your training videos by broadcasting them online to remote audiences. Ask us to do this for your membership association here.
Overall, CPD in pharmacy is more important than ever. This is because the role requires a lot of reskilling due to the expanding responsibilities of the role. It must be easier for pharmacists all over the country to access. This may include the potential CPD activities of clinical meetings, scientific conferences and workshops, and approved CPD educational events, to be livestreamed, and/or peer-reviewed journals to be made more freely available online.