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distance-learningMarch 4 2015

Pharmacy technician training from distance learning providers is preferred to further education colleges, new research suggests.

A study into the quality of pharmacy technician education and training found that respondents using a distance provider rated them more highly than FE colleges. There was also a greater satisfaction in hospital than in community pharmacy training with more hospital pharmacy technicians feeling supported by their organisation and colleagues as a trainee.

The General Pharmaceutical Council commissioned the report from the Centre for Pharmacy Workforce Studies at the University of Manchester.

Duncan Rudkin, the GPhC’s Chief Executive, said: “The role of pharmacy technicians and the knowledge and skills required of them continues to evolve and as the regulator we need to make sure that standards for education and training keep with this evolution.

“This report is providing us with valuable information around the strengths and weaknesses of the current system of education and training of pharmacy technicians, and the approval mechanisms which it underpinned by. It will support our ongoing work to ensure high quality training experience and in particular will feed into the review of our pharmacy technician education standards.”

The study found that most community pharmacy technicians use a distance learning provider, completing their qualifications mostly in their own time.

“Trainees that used distance providers had higher levels of agreement than those attending FE colleges in believing there were an appropriate number of exams to complete the knowledge qualification,” it notes. However, “trainees who used FE colleges felt their education provider cared about their progress more than those who used distance providers.”

Data included in the report indicates that the majority of 550 recently registered pharmacy technicians are female (88%), most were white British (79.3%) and most trained in community pharmacy (75.9%). The average age of those training in the community was 37, while the average age in hospital was 30.

“Community pharmacy trainees tended to have a history of working with the employer and move on to become pharmacy technicians based on the needs of the store,” says the report. “In hospital, in many cases trainees could be recruited for a two-year training contract and candidates could be external, perhaps without the same background experience as those in community.”

The Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK has welcomed the evidence-based comprehensive research into the quality of initial training for pharmacy technicians.

APTUK President Tess Fenn commented: “We are encouraged that the publication and findings indicate that pre-registration trainee pharmacy technicians are satisfied overall with their training. This is particularly pleasing as the report acknowledges the complexities and variations within the different models of training and the different work environments.

“The report provides the profession and the regulator with valuable data highlighting the differences in the training experience between the two main pharmacy sectors. The executive summary of the findings recognises that this brings challenges to parity in the quality of education and training.”

Ms Fenn noted that the report findings will be used within the imminent GPhC review of the initial pharmacy technicians' education standards.

Links:

GPhC announcement    

GPhC Report 'The quality of pharmacy technician education and training'    

APTUK response    

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