Can a student undertake a placement in a Training Establishment or under the supervision of a Trainer, if they are a connected relative?

As per SI No. 377/2014, students cannot undertake a placement in a Training Establishment or under the supervision of a Trainer “if he or she has a connection with either the training establishment or the tutor pharmacist concerned”.

A connected relative includes spouse or partner, parent, brother, sister, child, spouse of a child, grandparent, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, brother-in-law, sister-in-law and parent-in-law.

Why is there a new programme for educating pharmacy students?

A major review of the five year pharmacist qualification was commissioned by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland, called the PEARs (Pharmacy Education and Accreditation Reviews) project.  This review recommended the introduction of a five year fully integrated pharmacy programme to replace the previous 4+1 model (four year degree followed by one-year in-service practical training). In 2015, SI 377 of 2014 came into effect, legislating for this change. The new programme provides students with experience of patient-facing situations and real-life pharmacy practice at several stages before they attain their qualification. This early practical experience helps students to contextualise their theoretical studies and will provide them with the skills to meet the demands of the ever-changing face of pharmacy in healthcare.

What can a student do when the pharmacy team are busy?

There will be times during the student’s placement when the pharmacy/pharmacy department becomes busy, and the pharmacy team are not immediately available to answer student questions or direct the student’s activities.  Students could take advantage of these times to complete their learning activities/workbook. Some students may complete their compulsory learning activities early in their placement and may be eager to avail of additional supervised learning opportunities.

APPEL suggests setting an agreed list of learning opportunities at the student’s induction, to encourage and enable the student to direct themselves in their learning at busy times, and for the student to make the most of the valuable experience they can gain in your pharmacy/pharmacy department.  Please note, students with no previous experience in a pharmacy environment may find it more difficult to identify self-directed learning opportunities.

The following are suggested learning activities the student could undertake.  These activities have been derived from feedback from previous 2nd year students, Supervisors and Practice Educators. Please note all these activities are suggestions only and students should be appropriately supervised at all times in the pharmacy.

  • Look at the types of medication stored in the pharmacy fridge. How does the pharmacist ensure that the fridge is maintained at an appropriate temperature?
  • Find out what is meant by the term ‘unlicensed medicine’. Where in the pharmacy are these medicines stored and how are they ordered?
  • Look at five of the Pharmacy-only (P) medicines sold in the pharmacy. For each medicine consider what information you would gather from a patient who wants to buy one of these medicines and what counselling you would provide in each case?
  • Find out what pharmacy services are provided by the pharmacy.
  • How does the pharmacy dispose of medicines returned by its patients?
  • Does the pharmacy provide any services to local nursing homes or residential care units? Find out how the pharmacy helps with medication management (e.g. blister packs, venalinks, weekly dispensing).
  • Find the PSI’s pharmacist duty log. What is the purpose of the duty log and what information is recorded therein?

Interprofessional activities:

On previous placements some students identified opportunities to observe interprofessional activities as a highlight of their placements. We understand that these opportunities may not occur frequently, however we would welcome any opportunity provided to students to accompany the pharmacist to a meeting/service delivery that involves interacting with other healthcare professionals. Examples could include; visiting a nursing home, attending a hospital multidisciplinary meeting or lecture.

How do we manage patient/customer and colleague expectations?

The student can be introduced to patients/customers and colleagues as a pharmacy student on placement.  The student will also wear a badge provided by their School of Pharmacy, that identifies them as a pharmacy student.   Feedback from previous 2nd year students indicated that students felt they greatly benefited from the opportunity to improve their communication skills with patients in a “real-life” environment.  Students are encouraged to interact with patients, and to reflect on these interactions in the context of their own professional development, under the supervision of their pharmacist.  Students are also reminded before they go on placement, to be mindful not to treat the patients they meet as “case studies”, but to be respectful, courteous, and empathetic at all times.

How can my experience of supervising a 2nd-year student become part of my own CPD?

In 2019, 84% of our Supervisors agreed that supervising a student contributed to their CPD. APPEL has developed some sample CPD cycles, based on some feedback that pharmacists shared regarding their experiences of supervising students.  These cycles are intended to illustrate how pharmacists can incorporate their experience of supervising students into their own professional learning journeys. These sample CPD cycles are available in the Resources section of this website.

What are the placement hours?

For UCC and Trinity students, placement hours will mirror the student’s academic hours i.e. Monday-Friday, 9.30am – 5pm. For RCSI students, placement is scheduled on Tuesday afternoons from 2-5pm.

What do I do if the student is unwell or absent?

If the student is unwell during their placement, please excuse them from attendance and/or help them get medical care, as appropriate. If a student fails to attend their placement or calls in sick, please inform APPEL as soon as possible. Students will also have been advised to contact both their Training Establishment and their Practice Educator if they are going to be absent from their placement.