Updated guidance by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) on managing fitness to practise concerns in pharmacy education and training.

What is fitness to practise for a pharmacy student?

The GPhC defines a student’s fitness to practise as:

A student or trainee’s fitness to practise is called into question when their conduct or health raises a serious or persistent cause for concern about their ability or suitability to continue on a course or complete their training. This includes, but is not limited to, the possibility that they could put students, trainees, health and care professionals, patients and members of the public at risk, and the need to maintain trust in the profession.

How do the standards for pharmacy professionals apply to students?

The standards for pharmacy professionals explain the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours that are required from all pharmacists and pharmacy technicians describing how safe and effective care is delivered.

The GPhC’s standards for pharmacy professional’s states the following in relation to students and trainees: 

The standards for pharmacy professionals are relevant to all pharmacy students and trainees while they are on their journey towards registration and practice. The standards explain the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours that will be expected of students and trainees if they apply to join the register. They should be interpreted in the context of education and training and used as a tool to prepare students and trainees for registration as a pharmacy professional. Pharmacy students and trainees should consider the standards as they move closer to registration and professional practice, and should read them alongside other relevant documents that are provided by initial education and training providers.

The standards should be used as a tool to prepare for registration and qualification and should be read alongside other relevant documents that are provided by their education and training provider. It will help aspiring professionals understand what demonstrates good fitness to practise and, as a consequence, what is needed to demonstrate professionalism.

In the context of training and education, standards for pharmacy professionals must teach students:

  • Learning to demonstrate the standards in an educational context is part of their progress towards registering and practising as a pharmacy professional
  • Students and trainees have access to patients, information and medical products that is generally reserved for registrants. Demonstrating the standards is also part of ensuring the safety of training.

Fitness to practise proceedings for students

Pharmacy students could be subject to fitness to practise proceeding prior to initial registration with the GPhC.  Fitness to practise proceedings for students are aimed “to identify and address or refer concerns about students and trainees.”  In the most serious cases, the GPhC must be informed prior to initial registration and this could affect your registration with the General Pharmaceutical Council.

It is important to note however that the GPhC does not have any legal jurisdiction to participate in student and trainee fitness to practise cases and is not a fitness to practise adjudicator or an appeal body for students and trainees in any education setting.

While the guidance is aimed at education and training providers, students and trainees may also find it useful as it can help them understand how educators deal with concerns about professionalism and fitness to practise issues.

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