Linking education and practice, preparing pharmacy students for placements and professional practice. Facilitating the journey from student to pharmacist and instilling an ethos of Continuing Professional Development are key intertwined functions of this blog.

The development of the MPharm, a five year integrated Masters degree programme, where incremental work placements form an integral part of each consecutive year resulted in the need for digital support to enhance students’ progression to professional practitioners.

This new model requires pharmacy students to participate in placements for the duration of 1-2 days in first year, 2 weeks in second year, 2 months (optional) in third year, 4 months in fourth year and 8 months in their final year. The placement in second, third, fourth and fifth year are organised by APPEL (Affiliation for Pharmacy Practice Experiential Learning, It is stipulated that the 8-month placement in the final year must be in a patient facing environment (hospital of community pharmacy), outside of this the students and pharmacy tutors/preceptors liaise with APPEL to coordinate suitable placements. In an effort to introduce students to the many career options available to them as pharmacists and to encourage diversity of placement choices the following short clip was created, to provide examples of career options for pharmacists


It is important to note, that prior to commencement of the MPharm, Irish students entered formal placements to qualify as pharmacists in their internship year, that is, after four full years of University education. Now, students must acquire this experience, and the confidence and ability required for it, incrementally from year one. The onus is on us therefore, not alone to ensure that our students are prepared for placement but also, to ensure that tutor pharmacists in practice are ready for less experienced, potentially less capable and less confident students. It is our goal to facilitate this integrated process and we believe ultimately it is a strategy that will enhance our students interpersonal, inter-professional and practical skills along with their ability to contextualise, apply and see the relevance of their ‘in-class’ learning.

The year 1 placement is organised by the students themselves and given the short duration of the placement, the student carries out their placement in a community pharmacy. To facilitate the students learning on the placement, they receive a placement manual, on PebblePad, which can be printed as a PDF, see ( However, the placement manual contains 35 pages, hence to help students prepare prior to their placement, a Videoscribe clip outlining the learning outcomes was created. It is envisaged that this summary drawing on both the students visual and auditory senses will result in enhanced engagement with and retention of information. The recording is concise and will be a useful summary for both students and placement tutors/preceptors, in particular making it clear in a short time to busy professionals what the student must achieve on the placement. This clip outlining the first year pharmacy learning outcomes can be found at the following link


Feedback from the first year placement indicated that the majority of students were able to fulfill the learning outcomes of the placement and derived great value form the exposure to real-life practice. However, they indicated that on occasion in a busy or indeed very quiet pharmacy that learning aids would be invaluable. We therefore created the following digital resources to augment the experiential learning on the placement and believe they form the basis of a library of digital resources that can serve as references for students and tutors/preceptors alike to reference in preparation for, during or post placements.

  1. The Pharmacy Layout –
  2. The Pharmacy Team –
  3. Communication –
  4. Communication Self-Assessment Interactive
  5. Safe Prescribing

The IIoP (Irish Institute of Pharmacy, created a bespoke e-portfolio and five point CPD cycle for practicing Pharmacists to use to reflect on and document their continuous learning. This continuous learning is to ensure that all pharmacists attain and retain a high level of proficiency in relation to their knowledge, skills and attitudes against 178 behaviours outlined in the Core Competency Framework (CCF, mandated by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI, in 2013.  With the new demands on Pharmacists to engage with, document and record CPD, we want to ensure that we prepare our student for what will be expected of them as professionals in the workplace.  Our aim is to reassure our students that we have planned an excellent, modern, inclusive, forward thinking, integrated, practical education that will prepare them for professional practice.

In a presentation to all staff and students in the School of Pharmacy, UCC, in April 2016, Dr Bradley began her speech with the big question ‘are you ready, are you ready right now to be a pharmacist, do you have the emotional supports, the business plan the right relationships in place to see you through when pressure comes on and doubt sets in…..are you ready’. This profound introduction set the scene for an emotive and motivating presentation, where she outlined the value of Pharmacy and the opportunities it gave to our students. Dr Bradley ended the night with some advice for the students and pharmacists ‘take care of yourself, mentally, physically and emotionally’, she said ‘perfection is needed but only in dispensing’. A powerful motivating clip played by Dr Bradley to instill passion in our students can be found here.

We endeavor to facilitate the building of strong bridges with the professionals and ensure they are aware of the value we place on the experiential learning gained by our students under their supervision and guidance. An IPN (Irish Pharmacy News) report on the Linking Education and Practice Event, held in UCC in May 2016 can be found here.

All of this work in in alignment with inspiring mission statement and promise to ‘Educate pharmacists to the highest ethical and professional standards…’ in the Schools of Pharmacy, UCC & TCD