An exploration of pharmacists' learning in practice

Gifford, Alison Jane (2008) An exploration of pharmacists' learning in practice. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Informal learning is a major factor influencing the professional development and practices of health professionals (Eraut, 1994). This thesis is an in-depth exploration of how this process occurs in pharmacy and involves a detailed study of practising pharmacists. The learning approach of these individuals is explored in relation to the variety of working situations in which they practise and the prevailing climate in relation to professional learning and development within the National Health Service (NHS). This study therefore adds to an understanding of the way in which informal learning shapes the practice of pharmacists and as such it has considerable implications for both future policy and practice.

In the past there has been very little detailed research investigation into informal learning in pharmacy, although studies by Wilson, Schlapp & Davidson (2003) and Swallow et al (2006) have demonstrated the importance of this aspect of professional development. This study addresses that deficit, utilising semi structured interviews and focus groups to explore in some depth the nature of pharmacists’ informal learning and their perceptions of the effectiveness of current CPD practices in supporting such learning.

The study reveals that pharmacists use a range of informal learning methods to develop in their careers post-qualification, including experiential learning and reflective practice. Many also continue to take further formal courses and qualifications. Practitioners perceive knowledge to be of particularly high value, and place less emphasis and value on the learning of skills, attitudes and behaviours, despite their comprising a vital part of practice.

The role of helpful others (Eraut et al., 2004) plays a critical part in the professional learning and development of many pharmacists. They appear to value this support highly and in some cases rely on it due to the isolated nature of their practice situation.

Paradoxically, whilst pharmacists acknowledge the need to provide evidence of their ongoing professional development, they often do not complete CPD records in practice. One of the main criticisms offered, in relation to the CPD system, was the perceived limitations of the RPSGB Plan & Record forms, and this was also used as a justification for not completing their records. Greater flexibility in the system was seen as vital for the full benefits and strengths of the CPD system to be realised.

The change management process through which the RPSGB introduced CPD is critically examined and the literature on educational change processes utilised, to suggest ways in which the implementation process of CPD may have created the resistance evident in the pharmacists’ narratives.

This thesis raises questions about the value that pharmacists and the pharmacy profession place on various types of learning. The importance of informal learning in the development of pharmacists is emphasised. The thesis also explores the apparent need for pharmacists to have access to appropriate helpful others and the need to ensure that the method used to record CPD is flexible and fit for purpose.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Anderson, C.
Murphy, R.J.L.
Subjects: R Medicine > RS Pharmacy and materia medica
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Pharmacy
Item ID: 13683
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2013 11:17
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2017 12:03

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