The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI) is the pharmacy regulator in Ireland and is responsible for regulating pharmacists and pharmacies in the public interest. Several of the PSI’s functions under the Pharmacy Act 2007 relate to education, including promoting and ensuring the highest standards in education and training for the qualification to practise as a pharmacist, and make sure that relevant experience is gained in the course of that pharmacy education and training.
In 2010 the PSI commissioned a review of the five year programme of education and training for the pharmacist qualification in Ireland. One of the recommendations included the introduction of an integrated 5-year Masters level programme of education and training for pharmacists in line with international best practice, to replace the previous 4 year Bachelor plus 1 year in-service practical training programme.
A National Forum was established to advise and assist the Council of the PSI in its oversight of the development and ongoing delivery of the new fully integrated programme of pharmacy education, training and assessment. The National Forum for Pharmacy Education and Accreditation Interim Report of November 2013 noted that it was an essential component of the integrated degree that the student remain a student for the full five years of study. Under the previous model, students became employees during their final year.
Since September 2015, students commencing their pharmacy education undertake a PSI-accredited five-year fully integrated Master’s degree programme in pharmacy, with the first cohort awarded this MPharm degree graduating in 2020. This programme is operated by the schools of pharmacy in three universities in Ireland (Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork and Royal College of Surgeons Ireland).
This newer pharmacy programme provides for both the academic and practical experience that is required by students to qualify to practise as a pharmacist in Ireland. Students qualify after 5 years with a Masters in Pharmacy and are eligible to apply for registration as a pharmacist with the PSI.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (Education and Training) (Integrated Course) Rules 2014 (S.I. No. 377 of 2014) is the legislation which underpins the new 5 year MPharm educational programme. It includes the programme recognition and accreditation requirements, and details about the in-service training placements for students.
Part of the PSI’s accreditation process involves visits to the universities operating the MPharm programme, which includes meeting with representative students at each School of Pharmacy. The accreditation teams assess the programme of training and education various standards, including one related to students and the supports available to students.
The PSI has stated that it will continue to engage with the academic institutions that deliver the MPharm programme and their role is to ensure the quality of the MPharm programme and high standards in education and training for the qualification to practise as a pharmacist.