Lifelong learning for pharmacists – An exploratory study to devise a framework that supports planning, delivery and evaluation of learning events

Micallef, Ricarda (2020) Lifelong learning for pharmacists – An exploratory study to devise a framework that supports planning, delivery and evaluation of learning events. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


The pharmacist workforce has many emerging roles and there is an increasing global population who require access to medication and pharmacy services due to the increase in older population and prevalence of long-term conditions. Pharmacists in Great Britain (GB) and globally, along with other healthcare professionals need to complete mandatory learning, in the form of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) or Continuing Education (CE). However, even where mandatory requirements are not in place, lifelong learning is an essential part of the life of a professional, and participation in lifelong learning compliments mandatory requirements. Lifelong learning achieved through participation at learning events does not always have quality assurance, as there are multiple providers, and does not always support application of learning into practice. Currently, there is also limited evaluation of change of practice after participation at events. The aim of this research was to develop and validate a framework to support the organisation and delivery of lifelong learning events to support consistency of experience, regardless of provider. It is clear from a systematic review that there is no clear or standardised lifelong learning structure for pharmacists globally, with no clear consistent format. Although an increasing amount of technology is being used for learning, face-to-face is still preferred. Interactive learning supports achievement of learning outcomes, and topic and the opportunity to apply knowledge were noted as considerations for planning learning events. Pharmacists and their teams in South London were the main target audience, using convenience sampling to evaluate face-to-face learning events attended as part of Pharmacy Education South London (PESL) and to get experiences from end users. This was followed up through surveys and interviews to determine preferences for learning and motivators and barriers for participation in learning. Using a local sample population allowed easy access to participants and collection of data. With the knowledge that the structure of lifelong learning events differ globally and the fact that pharmacists need to work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals, the current reality and preferences for lifelong learning of other healthcare professionals in GB and pharmacists globally were investigated. The main findings identified that motivators and enablers for engaging in lifelong learning include regularly planned events, with an engaging topic, which is applicable to practice and has a national or local relevance. Timing and length of event were found to be important for increasing participation with advertising being needed, to increase awareness. For application of learning into practice, participants wanted tools such as a copy of the slides or a handout, case studies and follow up assessments. From interviews with other healthcare professionals in GB, it was identified that different tools are used in learning events but case studies and evaluation forms are commonplace. All professions, including pharmacists, were positive about a blended approach to learning, to enable the best fit learning modality for a topic. Personal preferences did affect participation in various activities with face-to-face learning being the most common globally. Across all stakeholders, online learning was deemed to provide flexibility and overcome barriers such as distance and time constraints, whereas face-to-face has the benefit of participants being able to share ideas and network. The findings from all previous chapters were translated to create the PRACTICE framework, consisting of 51 statements to support the planning, delivery and evaluation of a learning event. The framework was validated using a four stage process. This included face validation to ensure the viability of the concept, content validity to check relevancy of each statement, a think aloud process to ensure clarity of each statement and finally a pilot of a face-to-face event delivered in accordance with the framework to ensure usability in practice using pharmacists as the target audience. The validation included input from end users and experts involved in organisation of training, to ensure their views were taken into account. Whilst the PRACTICE framework was not validated using an online event, it was designed with end users in mind, ensuring engagement, application of knowledge and evaluation. Critique of the statements reveals that they are applicable to face-to-face or online learning events. The framework was also designed to be flexible and applicable to the wider population, in whatever setting. Limitations include the majority of the work using the sample population from South London and their experience of lifelong learning provision. Future work will include further dissemination and usage of the framework to support lifelong learning of pharmacists and other healthcare professionals in GB and globally.

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