Inappropriate information on the application form may cost you a place at university.Faheem Ahmed, award-winning pharmacist
Competition. That is exactly what your up against. That is because these days everyone wants to become a prescribing pharmacist. Consequently because of the demand it is also difficult to be accepted on a course.
Moreover, the majority of pharmacists should be prescribers by 2025 according to plans outlined by Health Education England. Rejected. Declined. Unsuccessful. These are terms that you maybe familiar with if your struggling to be accepted on a prescribing course – it took me three years to finally get on a course. In hindsight, my unsuccessful application was not all my fault. But there were certain aspects of my application that could have been improved. Continue reading and I’ll explain.
The application form
Before you consider applying to university you must ensure; (1) you meet the General Pharmaceutical Criteria; and (2) have access to a designated prescribing practitioner. I shall discuss these in more depth in future articles.
Most applications forms are divided in the following sections; (1) personal, professional and academic qualifications; (2) personal statement; (3) suitability to apply for the course.
Lets explore each section in depth.
Your background & qualifications
This section isn’t to difficult. However, some universities require a brief description of your current role- and this is where you may slip up. I’d recommend you focus on the patient facing aspects of your role and how you engage as part of a multidisciplinary ie. (1) explain how you assist patients with their minor ailment such as diagnosing and treating their conditions or referral to an appropriate clinician; and (2) mention the services you currently offer to patients such as vaccinations, blood pressure testing , aesthetic treatments etc.
Remember, the university want to establish more than just your general experience as a pharmacist. Although it is recommend you provide an overview of your current role (eg. managing staff, responsible for the pharmacy, recruiting staff etc) – but do not forget to explain how you manage and diagnose disease of your patients. This is because the university expect upon gaining your qualification it will be used within a patient facing role.
This section can vary depending on the university you apply to. The following question are commonly asked; (1) why do you want to undertake the course? – talk about your personal development and career progression but, also how the role of the pharmacist is evolving and thus gaining the qualification is in line with the agenda of the NHS ; (2) how do you plan to use your prescribing qualification? Your response will vary depending on your place of work e.g. within a community pharmacy you may consider offering more advanced services like a minor illness clinic, aesthetics clinic, prescribing for patients referred by the doctor. In contrast, within general practice you could use your prescribing qualification to diagnose, manage and treat disease – thus, relieving pressures on the GP.
Meeting the criteria
The GPHC criteria to undertake the qualification can be found on their website. An area universities seem to be requiring evidence for is; demonstrating you have clinical or therapeutic experience in which to develop your prescribing practice.
Before we discuss how to address the above requirement, you must understand the following; the independent prescribing course is not designed to teach you clinical skills. Moreover, it is designed for students who have experience in assessing, diagnosing and treating patients.
At this point you may be wondering how to demonstrate this. Well evidence could include; (1) evidence of training in your defined scope of practice; (2) a diploma in pharmacy practice or equivalent within your scope; (3) evidence of training in history taking and physical examination skills; (4) attendance of continued education events linked to your scope; (5) submission of CPD or re-validation records linked to your intended scope; lastly (6) you may be required to attend an interview with a member of the admission team.
If your still unsure at this point to demonstrate the above criteria, then try answering the following questions; (1) What is your scope of practice?- I have written extensively on this topic in other articles. To summerise ensure your scope of practice is well defined. For example the following cope of practice would be too broad; treating hypertension. Instead the following would be more appropriate; hypertension stages 1 & 2 in 30-60 year old with no signs of end organ damage. (2) What experience do you have in your intended scope of practice?- taking the example of hypertension- you could mention the following; undertaking blood pressure checks, assistance with treatment choices and recommendations to the doctor and offering health and lifestyle advice to patients.
Fairly straight forward. However it may not be applicable to all applicants- please do check with the university. Here your place of work – usually the line manager- would need to; (1) provide a written reference in support of your application- the exact wording to be used is usually provided by the application and (2) verify your suitability to undertake the course- again this is a deceleration.
Speak with the course providers. Do not assume. In the past I have found them to be extremely helpful and it will save you time in the log run.
Although I have tried to summarize the key points I would recommend the following; (1) apply to a range of course providers- this will increase your chances of getting accepted; and (2) do not give up- that is not a solution.