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.
The PSI has advised that under the new programme structure, the entire structure, content and curriculum has integration taking place on a number of levels: within the curriculum through the revisiting of the theory and knowledge base as the student advances through the programme; and within the practice placement experiences. These practice placements are designed to be workplace based learning experiences overseen by the academic institutions during which pharmacy students have the opportunity to contextualise their academic learning in a real practice setting.
The PSI have further advised that their accreditation process involves visits to the universities (UCC, TCD & RCSI) 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 institutions meanwhile deliver the programmes of education and training over the 5 years of the MPharm degree, including student enrolment, academic coursework, sourcing and governance of placements.
I understand the PSI and the Schools have engaged over the matter and my officials have requested to be kept informed of developments.