Annex A3: Education And Training
1. The Pharmacist's Responsibility
The RPSGB recognises the individual pharmacist's responsibility to keep abreast of changes in pharmacy practice as itemised in the Code of Ethics and the Standards of Good Professional Practice.
To help fulfil this responsibility, pharmacists are encouraged to adopt the concept of continuing education. Continuing education is the on-going learning which professionals need to undertake throughout their careers as a contribution towards the maintenance and enhancement of their personal development and professional competence.
The increasing focus on individual patient care within Community Pharmacy Practice gives rise to new educational needs, both at present and in the future.
In identifying the education and training needs for pharmacists to undertake patient counselling, it is important to take into account the knowledge, skills and attitude required to effectively and efficiently provide counselling and advice to patients.
The Scottish Centre for Post Qualification Pharmaceutical Education (SCPPE) provides direct learning and distance learning courses to enable pharmacists to participate and update their knowledge and skills by utilising a variety of education and training methods.
2. Knowledge for Counselling and Advice
To undertake the counselling and advice process, pharmacists must have a sound knowledge of medicines and their clinical use. This includes the pharmacological profile of medicines, the appropriate knowledge of appliances and their place in practice with respect to individual patient care. The SCPPE knowledge-based courses include the major therapeutic areas. These areas are itemised in the SCPPE 5-year Rolling Programme which allows pharmacists the opportunity to update their knowledge.
3. Skills for Counselling and Advice
The skills important in facilitating patient counselling and advice include communication skills and the application of appropriate social and behavioural sciences within the professional role. Communication skills are of the utmost importance in counselling and advising. The term 'communication' can be interpreted in many different ways, according to the person's experience and background. The professional interaction between pharmacists and their patients calls upon the pharmacist's interpersonal skills and the application of appropriate language and behaviour. There should be opportunities for pharmacists to practice communication skills with feedback from more experienced practitioners. SCPPE provides education and training in aspects of Communication and Presentation Skills which would be relevant to the process of counselling and advice. The SCPPE Rolling Programme includes education and training provision in areas such as Interpersonal Communication and Management of People.
4. Education and Training Provision
It must be recognised that counselling and advice to patients is a process that has already been effectively undertaken by many pharmacists, however, as the focus on the patient-centred approach in pharmacy increases, it is vital that the knowledge and communication skills necessary to undertake counselling and advice is provided at all stages of pharmacists' education and training. Relevant education and training provision is an inherent part of the undergraduate Pharmacy course and should be continued through the pre-registration year. It is also important that experienced pharmacists are allowed the opportunities to update their knowledge and skills throughout their years in practice, and that they transfer their knowledge and skills to less experienced pharmacists.
Education and training should be provided in a flexible manner through in-service programmes, work-based learning and continuing education courses. Continuing education opportunities include various activities ranging from self-directed reading through participation at conferences, direct learning courses and distance learning courses, to undertaking formal postgraduate diploma/degree courses relevant to pharmacy practice.
5. Education, Training and Audit
It is vital that continuing education is accompanied by audit of activities. The use of professional audit in pharmacy helps to identify education and training needs. By participating in audit, pharmacists can increase the quality and relevance of counselling and advice to patients, thereby enhancing their contribution to patient care (see Annex A4, page 26).