The Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education’s (CPPE) Community pharmacy technician: advancing your role programme aims to support pharmacy technicians to deliver effective clinical services and increase patient access in the community. We spoke to Hayley Berry (CPPE lead pharmacist, learning development) and Jo Nevinson (CPPE North West regional tutor, education supervisor and ACPT programme lead) about this exciting new programme.
Why has CPPE developed a new programme for community pharmacy technicians?
Hayley Berry (HB): This is a really exciting time for pharmacy professionals working in community pharmacy. Changes to service delivery are on the horizon, and the professional landscape is changing – community pharmacy technicians will be able to expand their roles and build on their skills as registered pharmacy professionals. The programme supports pharmacy technicians to develop their clinical skills and enables them to take on greater responsibility in their teams. This will contribute to the expansion of services for patients and support the changes ahead of us.
Jo Nevinson (JN): Alongside the expansion of pharmacists’ roles to include independent prescribing, NHS England (NHSE) also has a vision for the future provision of community pharmacy services, so the scope of practice for pharmacy technicians is broadening. NHSE is funding this course to enable community pharmacy teams to develop their roles to be more patient-facing, and to optimise clinical services to meet the needs of local communities.
What does the programme involve?
JN: It’s a four-month programme that starts with a self-reflection on your existing knowledge and skills. From this you make an action plan with a CPPE tutor to help you prioritise what you need to learn. You will work through an online e-course and attend a workshop to learn about clinical skills. Towards the end, you will attend an online workshop to reflect on your learning and role with a peer, and then complete a record of your learning and how you have applied it to gain your certificate.
HB: The programme is made up of:
- A self-directed e-course
- A learning needs assessment
- An initial meeting with a CPPE education supervisor
- Approximately four to six hours of self-directed learning per week
- A face-to-face clinical assessment skills workshop
- Guided workplace practice of clinical assessment skills to support future service delivery
- A mandatory two-hour evening workshop for reflection during month four
- Optional monthly one-hour peer-support sessions.
Can you tell me more about the clinical assessment skills learning?
HB: The clinical assessment skills day will help you put the knowledge from Unit 4 into practice in a safe environment. We recommend that you work through Unit 4 before attending if possible. You will work with other pharmacy technicians from community pharmacy, general practice and care homes to practise the clinical assessment skills so that you feel more confident in using these in your day-to-day practice. It is a practical workshop where you will get the chance to have a go at taking blood pressure and other general observations, and ask questions of the facilitators to help support your skills development.
JN: The clinical assessment skills day is a safe space where you will learn with experts how to apply clinical assessments to your role. You will use a logbook to practise these skills and gain experience.
Does the programme include assessments?
JN: There are assessments to help you feel confident about your learning and what you need to do. The assessments are mainly multiple choice and can be taken again if needed after revisiting the relevant learning.
HB: You are guided through the assessments with an individual tracker that will ensure you know what to do next. There is a final e-assessment, and you’ll attend a reflective practice workshop linked to applying what you have learnt to practice during your final month of the programme. The education supervisor will discuss your progress and assessments with you at the initial meeting, and if you have any ongoing questions linked to assessment, you can check in with the CPPE team at peer-support sessions throughout the programme.
What do you think will be the main challenge for pharmacy technicians to complete the programme?
JN: I think it will be applying the learning to the role. To achieve this, you will need to work with your team to look at skill mix. For example, what are you doing now that doesn’t need to be done by a pharmacy technician? Who can you train to take this on safely? We have optional monthly support sessions to discuss issues like these, and opportunities to network with other pharmacy technicians to share top tips and advice.
HB: We have tried to make the programme flexible to fit around everyone’s busy work–life balance. The only mandatory day is the face-to-face clinical assessment skills day, so we hope that fitting it in shouldn’t be a challenge. As Jo says, we are thinking about future roles that community pharmacy technicians will have, so it is about thinking how you will use these skills in practice moving forwards, keeping this in mind as you move through the programme.
How do you expect the programme will benefit everyday practice?
HB: I think this programme will allow pharmacy technicians to do other roles in the community pharmacy and provide greater variety than the typical role of the pharmacy technician. It will enable you to take on more responsibility and allow other members of your team to take on extended roles, such as the potential of prescribing services in community pharmacy.
JN: The programme will further develop your knowledge and skills to enhance the role you have currently. Traditionally, pharmacy technicians in community have been known to be dispensing for most of the day. There isn’t anything wrong with that, but in other areas pharmacy technicians have been taking on patient-facing clinical roles. The course is designed to increase your confidence in supporting patients directly and working with a wider healthcare team to maximise your service provision, which you may find more rewarding.
How do you apply?
You can reserve your place now on the CPPE website. Dates and locations for the first series of workshops have also been published.