In January 2021, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) published the revised Standards for the Initial Education and Training of Pharmacists.
These new standards herald many exciting changes:
- The fifth-year of training (previously called the pre-registration year) will now be called the foundation training year. Learners on this programme will be referred to as trainee pharmacists. Pre-registration tutors will be referred to as designated supervisors.
- New interim learning outcomes will now be used to assess trainee pharmacists in 2020/21, replacing the pre-registration performance standards.
The GPhC has also set out our role in the quality management of all foundation training sites in England.
Foundation training is designed to give trainee pharmacists the support, direction, information and resources they need to bridge the transition from studying to registering as pharmacists. As part of the Trainee Pharmacist Foundation Year Programme, we are developing new resources for training sites: a practice-based assessment strategy, e-portfolio, and virtual learning and information resources are coming onstream to quality assure the training and assessment of all trainee pharmacists in England.
These resources will help trainee pharmacists and designated supervisors understand and use the assessment activities and tools to chart progress against the GPhC interim learning outcomes.
Designated supervisors will find these resources helpful to assess trainees against the new interim learning outcomes, complete progress reviews, and provide final sign-off, as required by the GPhC.
Designated supervisors will also find more information on our dedicated webpage.
New resources for training sites
The HEE Trainee pharmacist foundation year assessment strategy provides an overview of the assessment strategy for both trainee pharmacists and designated supervisors. The Assessment activities guide provides detailed information about the assessment activities a trainee is expected to undertake during their foundation year, including an indicative mapping of each activity against the GPhC interim learning outcomes for the initial training and education of pharmacists. A Visual mapping of the assessment activities is also available.
You can find all three documents at the bottom of the page, while the video below gives an overview of the assessment strategy and how it works.
We have appointed the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), in collaboration with Axia Digital, to deliver the new e-portfolio system for all trainee pharmacists in England for the 2021/2022 foundation year.
This e-portfolio will directly support the use of the HEE assessment strategy.
User testing has now been completed, and roll-out of the e-portfolio is under way.
Find out more on our companion web page: e-portfolio and downloadable resources.
Until trainees have access to the e-portfolio, they can start planning and recording their assessment activities by downloading the assessment forms on our website.
When they have access to the e-portfolio, these records can be uploaded into the e-portfolio.
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Please check the Frequently Asked Questions below. If you have more questions to ask, please drop us a line at: email@example.com.
When will independent prescribing be included in the Foundation training year?
The GPhC anticipate that this aspect of the initial education and training standards will be fully implemented for the 2025/26 foundation training year, and so the first trainees who will have prescribing qualification on registering will join from 2026.
We continue to work with the GPhC on this, and more information will be shared as it becomes available.
What support will be given to current pharmacists to become independent prescribers?
Over 9000 registered pharmacists in England are already independent prescribers. However, we have not forgotten the existing pharmacy workforce in terms of education and training developments, and we are working with partner organisations to explore opportunities. We will share information as it becomes available.
More detailed FAQs are also available on our companion website: E-portfolio and downloadable resources.
When will the e-portfolio be available?
We have appointed the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), in collaboration with Axia Digital, to deliver the new e-portfolio system for all trainee pharmacists in England for the 2021/2022 foundation year. The e-portfolio will directly support the use of the HEE assessment strategy.
* User testing has now been completed, and roll-out of e-portfolio is under way *
Roll-out will be phased over summer and early autumn, with users contacted directly with instructions. User guide materials are available at the bottom of the web page under ‘Related Documents’.
We will continue to work with the RPS to develop further functionalities within the e-portfolio, which will be released as updates throughout the year, e.g. multisource feedback tool and appraisal documentation.
Until they have access to the e-portfolio, trainees can keep planning and recording their assessment activities by downloading the assessment forms on our website. These records can be uploaded into the e-portfolio in due course.
To receive updates on the e-portfolio, foundation training year and initial education and training of pharmacists, please join our mailing list.
Why is my supervisor not linked to me on the new e-portfolio system?
We are rolling out access to the e-portfolio in waves, so it may be that you and your supervisor are in different 'waves'. Until your supervisor has received their login details and registered with the e-portfolio, they will not be linked to you. Please carry on recording your evidence in the e-portfolio: once your supervisor is registered on the e-portfolio, the linking will automatically happen.
More detailed FAQs are also available on our companion website: E-portfolio and downloadable resources.
How should we start recording training activities until we have access to the e-portfolio?
Until you have access to the e-portfolio, you and your designated supervisor can get started with the assessment activities. Download assessment forms from our website or use your own internal documentation and templates.
When you have access to the e-portfolio, these records can be uploaded into the system and linked to the learning outcomes.
Should we build evidence of learning in the new e-portfolio and in other existing e-portfolios?
The new foundation training year e-portfolio has been designed to support trainee pharmacists in all sectors of pharmacy.
If you are currently using an e-portfolio provided by an external provider, please discuss the options with them. You can also get in touch with your regional HEE team who will be able to advise:
- Midlands and East of England: Pharmacy.firstname.lastname@example.org
- South: Pharmacy.email@example.com
- London and Southeast (LaSE): Lasepharmacy@hee.nhs.uk
When will the multiple source feedback tool and the appraisal tool be available to complete for my GPhC week-13 appraisal?
We are continuing to work with the RPS to develop further functionalities within the e-portfolio, which will be released throughout the year in updates, e.g. to include a multisource feedback tool and appraisal documentation.
The appraisal documentation will be available before the first possible GPhC week-13 review date.
Is the HEE Assessment Strategy mandatory for all trainee pharmacists?
The HEE Assessment Strategy is not mandatory this year.
The strategy is being offered to all training sites regardless of sector and is designed to be suitable in all sectors of practice. We are encouraging and supporting all training sites to engage with and use this.
The strategy is designed to support the professional confidence of designated supervisors to sign off the learning outcomes at the ‘Does’ level of Miller’s Triangle by providing a purposeful framework of activities triangulating a range of evidence against each learning outcome.
Are the assessment tools mandatory?
While the assessment tools are not mandatory, we are making them available to all training sites in England to support a consistent approach to the assessment of trainees, and give designated supervisors increased confidence in signing off trainees against the interim learning outcomes at the appropriate level.
How should we start recording training activities before the e-portfolio is available?
Until the e-portfolio goes live, you and your designated supervisor can get started with the assessment activities. Download assessment forms from our website or use your own internal documentation and templates.
When the e-portfolio goes live, these records can be uploaded into the e-portfolio.
How does the assessment strategy meet the requirement of a learning outcome being demonstrated at the ‘Does’ level of Miller’s triangle (‘repeatedly and reliably’) if only one of each assessment activity needs to be completed?
The learning outcomes must be demonstrated at the appropriate level of Miller’s Triangle. For the foundation training year, most must be demonstrated at ‘Does’ level – that means repeatedly and reliably in an everyday setting.
Each assessment activity is intended to provide evidence for several learning outcomes. This is set out in the assessment activities guide and in the separate visual mapping document. .
Therefore, completion of all the assessment activities is designed to provide multiple pieces of evidence against each learning outcome.
Your designated supervisor will then use their professional judgement to assess when you have successfully demonstrated each learning outcome and can sign you off.
Can I ‘fail’ a supervised learning event?
Each assessment activity is designed to provide evidence against a learning outcome. The assessment strategy is not assessing competence at each activity – this may be separately determined by local competency assessments.
For this reason, an assessment activity (which will be conducted as a supervised learning event in some cases) cannot be failed. However, your designated supervisor may determine that the completed activity does not adequately provide evidence against one or more learning outcomes, and may therefore require that you repeat the activity for this reason.
Do I have to map my completed assessment activities to the learning outcomes ?
Yes. You are required to map each completed assessment activity to the learning outcomes. You can use the assessment activity guide or the visual mapping document to find out which learning outcomes each activity is anticipated to provide evidence for.
How many pieces of evidence do trainees need to provide for each learning outcome?
Assessment activities are designed to map to the learning outcomes and, as an entity, support the provision of evidence that you demonstrate all the learning outcomes.
You are required to demonstrate most of the learning outcomes at the ‘Does’ level of Miller’s Triangle, which means that you are demonstrating an outcome ‘repeatedly and reliably’ in an everyday setting.
For this reason, the range of assessment activities are designed as a whole, to provide multiple pieces of evidence against each learning outcome. Your designated supervisor is expected to use their professional judgement to decide whether you have met a learning outcome.
How much are the new trainee pharmacists aware of these changes? Has this been covered at the end of their undergraduate degree?
Yes. We have run a series of webinars with MPharm and Year 4 students in partnership with the General Pharmaceutical Council. We have also worked with the Schools of Pharmacy to cascade information to all their students via email. We continue to work closely with the Pharmacy Schools Council to start making changes to the initial education and training of pharmacists.
What steps are being taken to inform the general public of the exciting changes happening to the pharmacist profession?
Our focus so far has been on informing students, trainees, employers, designated supervisors and pharmacy professionals about the exciting changes that are taking place in initial education and training of pharmacists. In the next phase, we will look for opportunities to highlight these exciting changes to the general public, including through our websites.
In the meantime, we continue to develop our work with Health Careers, promoting pharmacy as a career of choice with school children and school leavers.