According to a study, more than 80% of pre-registration trainees choose hospital pharmacy as their first choice of training
The researchers warned that community pharmacy risks being seen as a “leftover” opportunity for pre-registration training, as 84% of pharmacy students choose hospital pharmacy as their first choice for internships.
The comments were made in a study published in the
International Journal of the Practice of Pharmacy
(February 26, 2020), which was the first large-scale assessment of candidate behavior and choice in a UK pharmacist pre-registration training program.
Researchers from Health Education England (HEE) and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society found that 83.9% (2,182) of the 2,694 pharmacy students in the study placed the hospital as their first choice for training during the study. 2017/2018 pre-registration recruitment program, compared to 16.1% (418) who opted for the community program.
The study analyzed data from applicants for the HEE Pre-Enrollment Recruitment Program, as well as the results of an online survey of all fourth-year students in a Master of Pharmacy program. or the overseas pharmacist assessment program, who were eligible to apply for the training.
The majority of applicants (86%; n = 2325) chose programs in both the hospital and community sectors, while 11% (n = 283) opted for hospital placements and 3% (n = 86) chose community-based establishments only.
A total of 84% (n = 2,182) of applicants ranked a hospital program as their first choice; only 16% (n = 418) ranked community pharmacy as their first choice.
Internships in urban areas, especially London, were the most popular, with 81% (n = 2,171) having selected at least one London-based program, according to the results.
Through the online survey of 307 interns, researchers found that long-term career aspirations to work in a hospital were most valued by students as influencing their decision (63%; n = 187), followed by wanting to live either close to home and / or where they wanted to live long term (61%; n = 179).
“Secondary care was the most desirable destination for pharmacy students to undertake early career training,” the researchers said.
“Clinical roles and career opportunities in community pharmacy need to be promoted, as there is a risk that places in the community pharmacy training program will be seen as a ‘leftover’ opportunity for less competitive applicants to adopt. “
Commenting on the research, the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (BPSA) said student choice could also be influenced by the results of pre-registration exams, where hospital interns consistently outperform their peers in the community.
Rhys Llewellyn, spokesperson for the BPSA, said: “A lot of big universities have strong links with hospitals. I think there needs to be stronger communication between the community pharmacy sector, emphasizing its merits, and university students.
He added that graduates were more drawn to hospital-based training programs because they expose trainees to a more diverse group of patients, compared to community pharmacy where trainees are more likely to see the same type of patients.
Pharmacy graduates also want to spend their pre-enrollment year working in different industries in order to have a wide range of experiences, he said. This option is already available in Scotland and is being introduced in Wales.
Helga Mangion, Policy Officer at the National Pharmacy Association, commented: “Like all areas of pharmacy, community pharmacy also faces a recruitment challenge, although it is geographically variable.
“Some areas have a harder time recruiting than others, for example rural Northern Ireland, Scotland and Cornwall.
“A career in community pharmacy can be extremely rewarding because of the relationships built over the years with patients, families and entire communities. It is part of the story that young people entering pharmacies need to know more.